Episode 46: Captain Delivers a Disco Punch

Back to talking about Victorian novels, because that is still a third of my reading lists. Finished up with Captains Courageous, a relatively short one by Rudyard kipling of Jungle Book fame. The book itself is fairly well known but they also made a film way back when with the protagonist Harvey being played by a young Mickey Rooney, if you don’t know who that is I don’t balme you. I actually saw the movie a few years ago and I got to admit that the film was better. No, seriously, that one had you know a dramatic plot.

Here’s the short version of how the book goes. Harvey, spoiled 15 year old rich kid, falls off the cruise ship he was on and gets picked up by a fishing boat called the “We’re Here”. Harv goes on to rant Paris Hilton styla as to how his daddy is rich and they should do what they say. In one of the few moments where I actually appreciated child abuse, Captain Disco Troop punches him in the face and almost breaks his nose. Harv then says he is sorry and is ultimately taken on as part of the crew to do odd jobs and months later when they return to shore he can be back with his family. His tag team partner in this bildungsroman of sorts is Dan, Disco’s son. There are a bunch of other people on the boat, let me put them in descending order of importance as I remember them. There’s Uncle Salters, brother of Disco, Penn (a guy who is nuts, almost becomes sane for a few minutes but gets depressed back into cuckoo town), Manuel (Portuguese dude who saved Harvey), the cook (mostly known by the N word, yes even in blog format I’m not gonna say it), plus other people who aren’t that important.

The book was divided in 5 installments. Part 1 Harvey changes from whiny bitch to somewhat competent kid on boat. Part 2: You learn about the rest of the crew. None of these subplots actually develop so not worth mentioning. Part 3: Encompasses 3 chapters. In one you meet another boat crew but they’re not nice. In another they meet a French crew, so much xenophobia, but they’re cool. In the last one they find a survivor to a crashed boat, they later find his son too, Penn is revealed to be a preacher who abandoned his family or something but prefers to stay crazy ish. Part 4 They get to the area where you get the big fish and every other crew is there fishing as well. Everything is going pretty good and they cut to Harv’s parents getting a telegram that he will be in Boston soon. The parents take private carriages and trains there from California in record time and they reunite. The weird part comes in that you have an entire installment was provided for an extended conclusion/clsosure. Imagine that if Return of the King from the LOTR movie trilogy had just as much time on endings but like two huge battles less. That’s what this part felt like. It kind of made sense within a fisherman thematic rather than a narrative one.  The standard fishing story is always about leaving shore, being out in the open sea, eventually returning, story over. Here we have the people that return, tend to their business, hug their loved ones, mourn those that didn’t come back, and get ready to leave again. There are some good moments when Harv’s parents meet the crew and the family reconnects. Everyone is proud of Harv and everything turns out ok but they take a real long time to spell it out. They even do the little flash forward to several years later to show that Dan and Harvey ended up successful. Oh and the cook is there too, he voluntarily became Harv’s servant because… that guy just makes no sense .

The movie, has no Dan and Manuel takes center stage as mentor figure to Harvey, who is a few years younger. Rest of the crew not nearly as important and barely show up. The transformation of Harvey from bratty kid to somewhat responsible adult takes longer, they face a lot of perils out at sea, the other crew does actual antagonist and near the end Manuel dies. The reaunion between father and son takes like two minutes tops.

So yeah, movie adaptation surprisingly better in my opinion.

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