Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Horse Trainers Talking Horseracing Movies

Horseracing Trainers at Clockers Corner
Left to right: Mel Stute, Henry Moreno, Barry Abrams, George Vogel, Jack Woods.

The topics of discussion among the Thoroughbred trainers at Santa Anita are not always serious. Sometimes a break is needed from talk about the condition of the track, the availability of races to fit their horses, or the latest horse injury. Today broke cool and foggy, distinctly different from yesterday's clear, warm morning. And as several of Santa Anita's finest trainers huddled around their coffee cups, talk turned to their favorite horseracing movies.

Mel Stute insisted that Boots Malone was the best racing movie. Barry Abrams replied that Let it Ride was even better. As others chimed in, I made a quick list, which I offer for your consideration. If you have others, please leave a comment to add it to the list. Happy movie watching!

Boots Malone (1952)
Starring William Holden, Henry Morgan.
Boots Malone is jockey's agent and a wheeler-dealer who went from living at the Ritz to living in a room at the stables when his star jockey was killed in an accident. After almost 3 years, he hasn't found a replacement for him. Then he manages to buy a horse that's a bit of a sleeper and decides to train an eager young man, who turns out to be a runaway from a rich family, as a jockey. When gangsters urge Boots to throw the race, he faces a major dilemma.

Wall of Noise (1963)
Starring Ty Hardin, Suzanne Pleshette.
This movie has sex, gambling, big wins and losses, and exciting racing scenes, plus a cameo appearance by legendary sportswriter Jim Murray.

Casey's Shadow (1978)
Starring Walter Matthau.
Casey is a young boy in a family that trains racehorses. His best friend, a foal named Casey's Shadow, looks to be a loser, but turns out to be a champion.

Let it Ride (1989)
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr.
An average kind of guy with a slight gambling problem goes to the track and, mystically, it seems as though he can't lose, no matter how he bets. Naturally, he has an incredible day.

Sporting Blood (1931)
Starring Clark Gable.
Story of a horse who passes through various owners before racing to victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Down the Stretch (1936)
Starring Mickey Rooney.
A boy is adopted by a family that breeds horses. After becoming a jockey, he rides his horse to victory in the English Derby.

National Velvet (1944)
Mickey Rooney and An 11 year old Elizabeth Taylor head the cast as a jaded former jockey and a young girl who together prepare a wild but gifted horse for the world's finest Steeplechase. Grand national betting and the sport of horseracing in general received a huge boost in the wake of this beautiful movie, which won 2 Oscars.

And, of course, my favorite...
A Day at the Races (1937)
Starring the Marx Brothers.
A typical Marx Bros. musical comedy, but with a racetrack setting.


Anonymous said...

How about Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) about a $2 million race track robbery.

zraces said...

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley was made into a beautiful movie that winds up with the Stallion running against the best horses in the world. Again, Mickey Rooney, Kelly Reno, Terri Garr. Made in "79.

Anonymous said...

This was a great movie too!

Phar Lap (1983) Tom Burlinson

Anonymous said...

Seabiscuit (2003) was my favorite. Great blog Mary, keep it up!

coeurdefer said...

I've got to go with "National Velvet" (c'mon..female jock?, toughest race-the Grand National/Aintree?), with runnerups: "Home in Indiana" and "Kentucky". All three are a bit corny, old Hollywood and the last 2 have Walter Brennan featured. And any movie about horses that features Mr. Brennan is the best in my favorites book.

Anonymous said...

Favorite movie far and away - CHAMPIONS (1984)w/William Hurt - true story about jockey Bob Champion coming back from cancer and his mount - Aldaniti -coming back from a terrible injury to win the Grand National - Aldaniti stars as himself - fabulous riding scenes and real clips of the Grand National - will reduce you to cheers and tears - absolutely wonderful movie - original hard to find but worth the hunt-

Anonymous said...

Kentucky (1938)

Anonymous said...

The Longshot with Tim Conway is by far a top 3 racing movie.

coeurdefer said...

Forgot to add that Mr. Brennan received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for "Kentucky". So many good movies mentioned...they are all good. Can't watch "Pharlap" anymore...great movie, but so hard to watch when you know how it ends. The last "Seabiscuit" is fantastic;the one with Shirley Temple is fun, but really weak.

Unknown said...

How can you leave off "Seabiscuit"? I tear up at the end every time I watch it.

Anonymous said...

And while it doesn't fall squarely into racing movies per se, the English production of the D.H. Lawrence short story The Rocking Horse Winner is not only a fine example of storytelling on film but gives wonderful scenes of British racing racing in the late '40s.

Anonymous said...

Here's a shameless plug for our film THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY. Larry Jones called it "the best horse racing movie ever"!

Keep up the good work.

John Hennegan

Anonymous said...

What about Salty O' Rourke ? 1943

Lon McCallister as the jockey.

Anonymous said...

"Glory" 1956 (Swaps-Nashua).
"Kentucky" 1938 (Lawrin).

Anonymous said...

If John Hennegan can plug his film, can I plug LOST IN THE FOG? It's about one of your favorites, Harry Aleo. Available now via the website - www.lostinthefogthemovie.com

Great blog, by the way Mary.

John Corey

Mary Forney's Blog said...

Most definitely, John! I have a DVD of your film, and it's absolutely wonderful!! Haven't watched it lately, but I will, especially since yesterday (Dec. 7) was Harry's birthday... should have watched it then. I sure miss Harry, but I'll always have your film to remind me of how special he, and his beautiful Lost in the Fog, were. Thanks. Mary

Paisley Dave said...

You gotta love "Let It Ride" for the best day a 2 dollar bettor ever had. But I will give the Hennegan brothers kudos for "The First Saturday in May" for a "real" race track story.

Anonymous said...

Need to find out if I can Netflix a movie titled "Champions" about the Grand National steeplechase & Bob Champion's fight with cancer. Saw it many years ago. It was shot over three years of the actual Grand National. real actual footage from the race shot in (high speed at times) 35mm film. Must find it.

Nora said...

I'll go with Seabiscuit.

Dreamer was a cute movie and I like the horse racing part of The Champ. I also agree with anonymous about Phar Lap. What a war horse he was!

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that the best racing movie I have seen is the little known "Murphy's Stroke" (1979), with a young Pierce Brosnan starring as an Irish horse trainer who, with his wealthy Irish mates, set about organising a "sting" on English racing. Then followed by Letitride, Phar Lap and Sea Biscuit.

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