Thank God this is in TCM's library; it was just aired this past Father's Day weekend, and I watched it for the first time in twenty years. It still resonates as a father/son film, a buddy film, a coming-of-age film, and an adventure story. Even the film's moment of transition (roughly 24 minutes in) seems to be paying homage to 'other world' adventures like THE WIZARD OF OZ and ALICE IN WONDERLAND- except that Alice is a bratty little boy this time- easily the brattiest kid you'll ever meet in Freddie Bartholomew. Once Bartholomew begins his adventure with fisherman Spencer Tracy so does an amazing battle of wits, dialogue, great script, most of all, awesome performances. (Who would've thought the macho Victor Fleming would direct a story with such sensitivity and warmth amidst not only the leads but supporting castmembers Melvyn Douglas, Lionel Barrymore, and the up-and-coming Mickey Rooney?) Even though Tracy capped (and deserved) the Oscar, 12-year-old Bartholomew is a revelation as he learns about humility, honor, friendship, and growing up throughout the entire film. (A bewitching sequence shows Bartholomew play a prank which backfires on him and nearly costs him his friendship with Tracy.) The film could be accused of datedness, but it is a testimony to the basic Kipling story that it has been filmed three times, twice for television. (Can a Broadway musical be far off?) Full of wonderful black-and-white cinematography and ocean-fog special effects, it needs to come to DVD immediately. And I guarantee you'll cry like a baby with a smile on your face.