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USA 1958
Directed by
John Sturges
86 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Old Man And The Sea

Despite his always dignified presence, Spencer Tracy, the paradigmatic 1950s white collar (sub)urbanite, is miscast as a Cuban fisherman in this version of Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 Pulitzer Prize winning novella about a lonely old fisherman trying to get back home with the catch of a lifetime.  With the subject matter not having a lot of dramatic potential why anyone thought it a good idea to turn it into a film is a mystery.  Indeed Tracy’s presence could not save the film which bombed at the box office.

Sturges, who took over from Fred Zinnemann, was best known for his action-oriented films but despite filming at sea he is unable to do anything with the essentially reflective material (ironically, the film went over-budget in trying to do so). It wasn’t helped by the fact that a studio prop fish had to be used and the visuals shift from location shooting to back-projected studio tank are jarring. On the upside, the cinematography by James Wong Howe and Floyd Crosby is excellent whilst Dimitri Tiomkin's score won an Oscar.




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