“Never have I had such a strong fish – or one that acted so strangely.”
An aging Cuban fisherman (Spencer Tracy) attempts to score the biggest fish of his life on a lengthy trip at sea.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- At Sea
- Character Studies
- John Sturges Films
- Spencer Tracy Films
According to TCM’s article, this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 Pulitzer Prize-winning novella — “two years in development and two years in production” — was an expensive challenge to bring to the screen. Indeed, one wonders about the wisdom in attempting to turn a one-character allegory into a cinematic tale — and this skepticism is borne out in the movie, which relies far too heavily on voice-over narration (by Tracy himself), displays inconsistent footage of Tracy’s lengthy battle with a huge marlin (scenes done in a sound stage are pretty obvious), and features a fairly wooden performance from the only other talking character in the film (Felipe Pazos as “The Boy”). With that said, Oscar-nominated Tracy is fine in the central role, and James Wong Howe’s color cinematography is often luminous — so at least it’s a beautiful and (mostly) well-acted venture.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Spencer Tracy as the Old Man
- Beautiful on-location cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for diehard Hemingway or Tracy fans. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.