Gus, the trusty family retainer, has hopes of riding his boss' horse, Big Boy, to victory at the Kentucky Derby.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Gus
...
Annabel
Louise Closser Hale ...
Mother
...
Jack
Eddie Phillips ...
Coley Reed
Lew Harvey ...
Doc Wilbur
Franklin Batie ...
Jim
...
Joe
Tom Wilson ...
Tucker
Colin Campbell ...
Steve Leslie
...
Bagby
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Storyline

Gus, the trusty family retainer, has hopes of riding his boss' horse, Big Boy, to victory at the Kentucky Derby.

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Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

11 September 1930 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first of two Jolson Broadway vehicles to be filmed; the other was Wonder Bar (1934). See more »

Soundtracks

What Will I Do Without You?
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph A. Burke
Lyrics by Al Dubin
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Al Jolson Gets Off Track
7 May 2011 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Descended from slaves, horse trainer Al Jolson (as Gus) wants to ride "Big Boy" all the way to the Kentucky Derby, and help his master's family regain their fortune. Criminal forces conspire to get Mr. Jolson off his high horse, although he is the only one who has a chance to win. Jolson is exceptionally close to his horse, claiming he has, "Greta Garbo's eyes and Clara Bow's legs." Not coincidently, both actresses were ahead of Jolson in Quigley Publications' "Money-Making Stars" for 1930 list. Jolson's #7 position was nothing to scoff at, but fewer people were seeing him in "Big Boy" than in still exhibited hits like "The Singing Fool" (1928).

One of the reasons for this film's relative failure may be the original Broadway show's altered and lackluster soundtrack. Jolson was the first in a Crosby/Sinatra/Presley continuum of pop recording artists. But now his usual string of million selling #1 hits was no longer in evidence. The attempt to make "Tomorrow Is Another Day" a hit was unsuccessful. Bing Crosby was taking over.

None of the veteran character actors make much of an impression alongside Jolson. Helping more are John Harron (as Joe Warren), who romances pretty Claudia Dell (as Annabel Bedford) while helping her brother Lloyd Hughes (as Jack) and Jolson expose the criminal element. At the end of this film, Jolson is asked to sing "Sonny Boy" but declines - and there is nothing here even remotely approaching the quality of that song. "Big Boy" was also notable in that Jolson plays in "blackface" until appearing as himself in the end. He actually looked better with the darker skin, and sang with dignity, but his white lips are too pronounced in this picture.

*** Big Boy (9/11/30) Alan Crosland ~ Al Jolson, Claudia Dell, John Harron, Lloyd Hughes


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