#109 Captains Courageous (1937)

One genre that I have noticed so far that hasn’t been shown on this list yet is coming-of-age films or any movies where kids play the main roles…until today! Sometimes it takes going overboard (literally) to start growing up. In Victor Fleming’s Captains Courageous, a spoiled little boy goes overboard on a luxurious boat with his dad and ends up under the wing of a friendly Portuguese sailor’s boat.

When we first meet the character of Harvey, we see him as a spoiled, pampered brat who feels the need to buy everyone off in order to get anything he wants. When he falls overboard after tagging along with his wealthy father on a business trip, he falls overboard and is rescued by another ship. The crew on this ship are not able to return him back until they’re done with their job- forcing him to stay on the boat with them for three months. None of them give in to his demands to buy them off for an earlier return. Harvey learns things the hard way on this ship and no one will pamper him- especially Portuguese sailor Manuel. Harvey learns what it means to grow up as he is taught how to be a fisherman and the ways of life in the sea as he bonds with Manuel in song and laughter. The bond between these two makes you want to cry! Despite the fact that Harvey has a good father, Manuel tells it to him like it is and isn’t afraid of him. Harvey needed someone in his life like that to force him to work hard.

Freddie Bartholomew, who played Harvey, really impressed me! He was one of the richest child stars of the 1930s next to Shirley Temple. I loved how he demonstrated the character development of Harvey; showing him initially as a refined snob into a child who is still trying to make sense of his life. Believe it or not, Spencer Tracy, who plays Manuel, were very adamant about being in this film because of having to spend two hours curling his hair (such as Joan Crawford called him “Harpo.” People can be so cruel!) and for attempting a Portuguese accent. He met Portuguese sailors to better help him prepare for the role. Tracy did not have faith in himself the entire time playing the role. It was until he won the Academy Award for Best Actor that year that he changed his mind about his performance. Way to go, Spencer Tracy! This will teach any actors who don’t feel confident in themselves not to be their own critic. Do you feel that way about yourselves sometimes? Although one criticism I do have is that there was no point in Mickey Rooney’s character being in the film. He’s Mickey Rooney after all and he’s barely in the film!


I’m sorry but I have to talk about this scene because it basically broke my heart! What about you? It was hard seeing Manuel drown to leave a heartbroken Harvey. Especially when Manuel completely changed Harvey and helped him turn into the child he grows up to be in the short time they knew each other. The lessons he taught Harvey, he will never forget. The chopping of the ropes reminded me of a clock. That as they were saying their goodbyes, the clock was ticking and then stopped. I couldn’t stop crying after! 

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This is a great story to see of a coming-of-age drama of a child learning that being a man is not about abusing their power but to work hard and be honest and decent.

Unfortunately, I could not find the film online but you could rent it on Amazon for $3.99. Here is a trailer for the Rudyard Kipling adaptation and please comment your reactions:


#108 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

At last! My favorite Disney animated film is next on this list! I get so many flashback memories of seeing this film when I was little and singing the songs. ♪Some day my prince will come! Some day…♪ Ummm…anyways….Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is about a princess who hides out with seven dwarves to escape her jealous wicked step-mother. 

Introducing not only Walt Disney’s first feature film but the first feature film ever! The mastery behind the film such as the colors, the cute animals, the charming characters, the special effects! There’s nothing to hate about this film! I even like the detail put into the body/facial gestures in order to make it all look more real. It helps that actors acted out the scenes first and then the sequences were traced over the live action sequences- all a method called rotoscope. So we see Snow White who looks like you could eat her up with a spoon because of how sweet she is. She lives with her wicked stepmother who she needs to make a break for it considering she is on her hate list after being told by a magic mirror that she is more beautiful than her. Snow White meets seven dwarves who decide to take her in. I love how each dwarf has their own individual personalities, making them all the more memorable. Who is your favorite dwarf? Dopey will always be my favorite.

I love the scene where he constantly wants more kisses goodbye from Snow White when they’re about to leave! How cute! This whole movie is just full of cute such as the furry animals that Snow White meets along her journey to find shelter. Walt Disney was always an expert in putting human-like qualities in his animals to make us love them all the more. I remember when I was little how I would attempt to put a bird on my finger the way Snow White does. Yeah, Disney films can kinda be misleading so don’t be fooled:) This is a film that inspired young girls everywhere that one day, your prince will come and that you’ll hopefully be lucky enough to have friends like the seven dwarfs. 

The reason why Walt Disney decided to take his chance making the first animated feature film was because while his animated short films were successful, they did not help so much with bringing in the dough for the company. Cartoons back then were just considered a fun little sketch to see in theaters before the movie started. There were a lot of challenges that him and his company were not afraid to tackle such as using a bigger field size and new drawing boards. This was also the first time that a multi-plane camera was used in order for the images to be manipulated on each cel at different speeds. Can you guess how many animators were used in the making of this film? 750! Remember, there were no computers back then. It all had to be drawn by hand. Do any of you miss animation that’s like this? After three years, Snow White was released and loved by all with Walt Disney winning an Honorary Award at the Academy Awards.

The most epic scene for me was the forest scene where Snow White gets terrified at all of the animals in the dark forest. When this scene was first shown, little kids would wet their pants at each showing! Were you scared when you first saw the scene? Even at Radio City Music Hall, they had to change the music so kids wouldn’t get frightened. I love how that scene showed a well-constructed montage of the trees branches grabbing at her as if they were large hands followed by the constant flashing of the animals’ eyes. Reminds me a lot of The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is trying to escape from the winged monkeys. This scene shows that not everything is what it seems. The animals saw in Snow White what we all saw- a delicate, precious teenager who just wants to feel safe. If only we all had tiny critters who would help us with our household chores! 

If you haven’t seen this film already, get right on it! I unfortunately couldn’t find a copy online but you can buy it for $19.99 on Amazon. Please comment what you think and watch this trailer for the Walt Disney masterpiece: 

#107 Song at Midnight (1937)

I’m sure you remember Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera, right? Disfigured man who lives in a theatre, falls for an opera singer that sings there and ruins any chances of her happiness to ensure that they are together? Well, this is kinda sorta a remake/adaptation of that film. Ma-Xu Weibang’s Song at Midnight is when a disfigured revolutionary living at an old theatre seeks the help of an actor to reunite him with his girlfriend.

So the main character Song Dangping was a revolutionary tragic hero whose enemies, jealous of the love he had for Miss Li, doused him in nitric acid, leaving him disfigured. He did not want his girlfriend to see him so he pretended that he died but still sings out the window to her every night to improve her mental state (how romantic! If only all men today could do this to please a woman!). There are definitely similarities between this and The Phantom of the Opera where a disfigured man is trying to reach out to the woman he loves in an ancient theatre where he seeks safe shelter but the shallow public sees him as nothing more than a monster. Maybe at first when you’re seeing this film, you’re think “You idiot! Who cares if you’re disfigured? Be with the woman you love!” But remember the time setting that this film took place in. Not everyone can look past appearances. Plus, once you see the way he looks, I’m sure you would run too at first glance! That’s what makes the story all the more sad!

This film is considered the first Chinese horror film. Well, in today’s standards it would not be considered horror. There are no serial killers out to get you, no monsters, no torture devices, and no jump scares to give you nightmares. But the horror elements come into the scene differently than we’re used to such as when Song slowly takes off the bandages and walks to the mirror to reveal his new face, looking completely unrecognizable with his face looking like it’s barely there. The makeup looks fantastic as if the acid really did disintegrate his face! Also, even the scene when Miss Li is told that Song died and her psychological reaction as the room spins around her and blood spews out of her mouth is just as horrific as well. This was a sad story in which we feel this love story between Song and Miss Li and the whole time we are just rooting for a reunion! Song at Midnight was remade twice in both Shanghai and in Hong Kong. The Chinese took all of these familiar elements and made it their own story by putting in a political subplot of the dire consequences of rebelling against the government. This is just one out of the many films that defined Chinese cinema.

Watch this tragic story unfold below and please feel free to comment: