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Valued thoroughbred mare Southern Queen slips and falls in a mud puddle, breaking her leg. Before she is destroyed, she gives birth to Tommy Boy, who becomes the favorite of his owner, horse breeder Jim Rellence. Ultimately a reluctant Rellence is forced to sell the one-year old to a prominent sportsman, and Tommy enters the world of high stakes racing. He goes through a variety of owners, all of whom have their own selfish agenda for the horse. Ultimately he ends up with Ruby, the mistress of a murdered racketeer, who wants Tommy to fulfill his true potential as a stakes horse and enters him in the Kentucky Derby. Written by
This is the first movie I have seen about horses that understands horses. It also understands, better than most, the ties that grow between the people that work with horses and their charges. The stable hands and breeder roles are developed. Indeed, the stable hands are all black and (for the time) are shown with a range of emotions, humanity, and (shockingly) as having families.
Furthermore the horses are represented as having community among themselves, communicating among themselves, and even caring about the fates of other horses. Add to this the remarkable and touching scenes between the stable hands (notably John Larkin and Eugene Jackson)and the horses throughout the film. The breeder is also notably tender hearted.
The starring roles and plot are well handled. Gable appears late in the film, but commands attention. The female lead is played with backbone and heart. The plot moves swiftly, but not at the expense of creating empathy with the situations at hand. I look forward to exploring further films directed by Charles Brabin.
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