Old Man and the Sea, The (1958)

Old Man and the Sea, The (1958)

“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
  • Fishermen
  • 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

Must See?
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.


One thought on “Old Man and the Sea, The (1958)

Leave a Reply