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TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Spencer Tracy [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Boys Town
Spencer Tracy won his second Oscar for his portrayal of Father Edward J. Flanagan--then promptly turned the statuette over to the real Father Flanagan out of gratitude. The priest's philosophy that no boy will grow up bad if given a chance in life culminates in his formation of Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. Unable to raise funds through "proper" channels, Flanagan finds that his staunchest supporters are the workaday folks who have faith in him; none is stauncher than Jewish pawnbroker Henry Hull, who digs deep into his pockets to help Flanagan realize his dream. The story of the struggle to get Boys Town on its feet paralleled with the regeneration of punkish Mickey Rooney, the younger brother of criminal Edward Norris. At first a wise-guy rebel, Rooney rises to a position of authority, responsibility and respect in Boys Town's self-maintained government. Boys Town, by the way, is the source of the classic line "He ain't heavy--he's my brother." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Captains Courageous
A boy learns life-changing lessons about the importance of friendship and the dignity of labor in this adventure saga based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. Young Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is the working definition of a spoiled brat; the only child of a wealthy widowed businessman, Harvey has everything he needs, but never stops asking for more, convinced he can get anything if he yells, pouts, or throws the right tantrum. Even other boys his age are disgusted with his antics, and when he accompanies his father on an ocean cruise, he finds he has no friends to play with. After wolfing down six ice-cream sodas, Harvey gets sick to his stomach and while vomiting over the side of the ship, he falls into the drink. He is rescued by Manuel (Spencer Tracy), a Portuguese old salt who drags him on board a Gloucester fishing boat where he's a deck hand and doryman. Harvey shows no gratitude to Manuel for saving his life and demands to be taken home immediately; Manuel and the crew, not the least bit sympathetic, inform him that once they've filled the ship's hold with fresh catch, they'll return to shore, and not a moment sooner. Over the next few weeks, Harvey grows from a self-centered pantywaist into a young man who appreciates the value of a hard day's work, and in Manuel he finds the strength, guidance, and good sense that he never got from his father. Spencer Tracy earned an Academy Award for his performance in Captains Courageous and even sings a bit; the story was parodied years later (with a few rather drastic changes) in the Chris Elliott vehicle Cabin Boy. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Bad Day at Black Rock
This powerfully tense, fast-paced suspense drama also yields a grim social message about racial prejudice. Spencer Tracy is John J. MacReedy, a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock one hot summer day in 1945, the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for both a hotel room and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but his inquiries are greeted at first with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with escalating violence. MacReedy soon realizes that he will not be allowed to leave Black Rock; town boss Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who had Komoko killed because of his hatred of the Japanese, has also marked MacReedy for death. MacReedy must battle town thugs, a treacherous local woman (Anne Francis), and finally Smith himself to stay alive. The entire cast is flawless, especially Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin as the mean-spirited town bullies, and the relentlessly paced action never eclipses the film's sobering themes. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman headline this screen version of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale, directed by Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz legend Victor Fleming. Tracy stars as Dr. Jekyll, a scientist who downs an experimental elixir that transforms him into a monstrous alter-ego, Mr. Hyde. Lana Turner co-stars as Jekyll's fiancée, and Bergman as Eva, the woman who captures his heart. A film steeped in heavy Freudian symbolism, this production also tries something unusual by relying largely on Tracy's shift in facial mannerisms (in lieu of heavy make-up) to convey the personality change. As a result, the movie manages to place a much stronger emphasis on emotions than on the terror of physical mutation. Neither critics nor audiences bought it: the film fell prey to critical castigation when it hit movie screens in mid-August 1941, with many indicating that they vastly prefer the 1931 Rouben Mamoulian/Fredric March version. Still, this one has its defenders. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Spencer Tracy
    Spencer Tracy - Father Flanagan
  • Mickey Rooney
    Mickey Rooney - Whitey Marsh
  • Henry Hull
    Henry Hull - Dave Morris
  • Leslie Fenton
    Leslie Fenton - Dan Farrow
  • Addison Richards
    Addison Richards - The Judge
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