The Old Man And The Sea

  • 1958
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Years before A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, the original fish story. This was a near-impossible film to make, but Warner Bros. and Sturges tackled the job sensibly and, with Tracy in bravura form, it came off surprisingly well. Tracy plays a semi-literate Cuban fisherman whose pedantic efforts to practice his trade only cause snickers of derision from his community....read more

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Years before A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, the original fish story. This was a near-impossible film to make, but Warner Bros. and Sturges tackled the job sensibly and, with Tracy in bravura form, it came off surprisingly well. Tracy plays a semi-literate Cuban fisherman whose pedantic efforts to

practice his trade only cause snickers of derision from his community. Regarded as a fool, he only receives respect from the small boy (Pazos) who brings him coffee every morning. Most of the film is Tracy alone onscreen, as he goes head to head with a gigantic marlin, which, if landed, would be

the catch of a lifetime. The struggle and its outcome form a story of irony, achievement and sadness, a battle of man vs. both the elements and his own pride.

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is an allegorical tale providing Tracy with a worthy one-man show, and his work has a powerful impact laced with humor and an overwhelming sense of stoic heroism. (Unlike his Portuguese fisherman in CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, however, Tracy here does not attempt any kind of

accent, which does stand out a bit in his scenes with the rest of the cast.) Sturges's direction, given the confining nature of the settings, is masterful, and the cinematography headed by Howe and pieced together by many others is sometimes stunning. (The contribution of much of the footage by

many sources, however, has a tendency to present alternating and inconsistent color patterns from scene to scene.)

Attempts to film on location encountered problems; landing an actual marlin proved impossible; and Hayward fired original director Fred Zinneman over, among other things, disagreements about the script. Eventually, much of the film was shot (using a rubber fish) in a huge water tank at Warner

Bros! Although Tracy would state that "This is for the birds" during the painfully protracted shoot, his disillusionment doesn't affect his performance, and he received kudos from most of the critics. One exception was Hemingway, who grouched that the film looked like the work of "a rich, fat

actor."

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Years before A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, the original fish story. This was a near-impossible film to make, but Warner Bros. and Sturges tackled the job sensibly and, with Tracy in bravura form, it came off surprisingly well. Tracy plays a semi-literate Cuban… (more)

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