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Salty O'Rourke (1945)

Salty owes money to Doc Baxter; he and his pal Smitty have one month to pay up. They get a race horse and a disbarred jockey, Johnny Cates, who must fake his identity to race. Johnny and ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (story)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Doc Baxter
Mrs. Brooks
Rex Williams ...
Hotel Proprietor
Racing Secretary
Denis Brown ...


Salty owes money to Doc Baxter; he and his pal Smitty have one month to pay up. They get a race horse and a disbarred jockey, Johnny Cates, who must fake his identity to race. Johnny and Salty both fall in love with Barbara Brooks and, to get even, Johnny considers throwing the horserace. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

character name in title | See All (1) »


He's the King of the Gamblers!




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Release Date:

30 July 1945 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Deuda saldada  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 26, 1945 with Alan Ladd and William Demarest reprising their film roles. See more »


Johnny Cates: I got all the education I need. And I ain't gonna over do it.
Salty O'Rourke: Okay, wise guy. What's the capital of New York?
Johnny Cates: Saratoga.
Johnny Cates: There, you see; any ten year old knows it's Albany.
Johnny Cates: Then they changed it!
See more »


Referenced in Flags of our Fathers (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Salt Of The Earth
4 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

Paramount celebrated Alan Ladd's return from military service by giving him this racetrack story which got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Ladd plays the title character of Salty O'Rourke who is a racetrack character of sorts and a guy who is no better than he ought to be.

In fact he's got himself in a real jackpot with bookie Bruce Cabot. Ladd's former partner ran up a really big debt and skipped out and Ladd is holding the bag. He negotiates a deal with Cabot for a month's extension.

What he comes up with is a complicated scheme to obtain a spirited, but unrideable race horse and then to get a talented jockey who's been banned for gambling. Ladd and trainer William Demarest buy the horse and then go to Mexico to get jockey Stanley Clements who is leading a dissolute life south of the border.

Ladd and Demarest use the name of Stan's younger brother who is still a juvenile. But because of that the law requires he attend the school run at the racetrack. Clements balks at first, in fact he balks at just about everything. But one look at schoolteacher Gail Russell and he changes his mind. In fact Ladd takes an interest as well and therein lies the problem.

In a role where someone like Tyrone Power who specialized in playing hero/heels like Salty O'Rourke could have been the best casting, Alan Ladd does pretty well by the part. Standing out in the film though is Stanley Clements who was playing a character not too different from what he was in real life. Clements was the wild child and later wilder adult if tales are true. Spring Byington is also in the cast playing Russell's vapid and clueless mother.

Director Raoul Walsh got some racetrack atmospherics in the film and no doubt use of nearby Santa Anita or Hollywood Park was made to the limit. Salty O'Rourke proved that Alan Ladd still had box office appeal and was a good film to return from military service with.

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