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Olivia de Havilland,
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C. Aubrey Smith
The Smart Set is the only film I know based on polo. It's not a sport that attracts popular attention, the care and feeding of the animals needed to play polo puts it far beyond the means of the average working person to participate. It's not like bowling.
Not too many people today could tell you who the name polo players are, me included. But in the Golden Age of Sports that the Roaring Twenties was categorized as the Babe Ruth or Jack Dempsey of polo was one Thomas Hitchcock, Jr. who was one colorful character himself. From the horsey set on Long Island, Tommy Hitchcock was among other things a member of the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, joining as a teen. He was killed in a plane crash in 1941 piloting a test plane for the RAF before America got into that war. Between wars he played a mean game of polo and was quite the society party animal.
And it's his character that William Haines's character of Tommy Van Buren is based. Most of the clichés involving sports films are present here, it's just that they're new for polo. It's a triangle with Haines and fellow polo player Jack Holt in love with Alice Day, a débutante from Long Island. Of course it all ends in the big championship polo match between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Guess who comes in and saves the day? One guess per reader.
Haines is cocky and brash, Holt is strong and silent, and Day is sweet and demure. That about sums up their characters. Oh, and Haines plays a mean game of footsie at parties. The stars pretty much fit into the stereotyped characters they normally played. Haines even has a horse he loves like a western cowboy normally does, a crack pinto polo pony called Pronto.
It's not a bad film and most typical of the parts on the silent and early sound films that William Haines did. But I can't believe that polo would have too wide an audience today.
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