This is a cute movie. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, leading me to bump my rating up a star. This is one of those second-tier Hollywood productions that usually don't stand out, but I thought it was fun. The cast is really terrific and there's lots to like in this little-known comedy.
Wonderful character actors Reginald Owen, Sig Ruman, and Charles Halton are excellent as the three eccentric scientists. (Think BALL OF FIRE.) Add to that the delightful Edmund Gwenn as their colleague. With Gwenn's position at the university in jeopardy, the scientists pool their knowledge to formulate a system of predicting winning horses at the track to thereby raise the necessary funds.
The romance between Frances Gifford and James Craig has some cute moments, like when lovestruck Craig awkwardly tries to explain away his old friend "Stems".
"Stems", of course, is played by the very alluring Ava Gardner. This was an early credited role for Gardner, a year before THE KILLERS, and she's very good. Definitely a born star. Although she's the main romantic rival, Gardner does not play a "bad girl". In fact, she's rather likable and upright about the whole thing.
In addition to the great comedic performances by the scientists and the sultry screen presence of Ava Gardner, there's the bartender (Frank Orth) who always has just the drink for what ails you, the tough Irish horse trainer (J.M. Kerrigan), and Mr. Mason (Chester Clute), the befuddled little private detective ("Found him and lost him. But I'll find him again. And again and again."). And to top it all off there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it uncredited cameo by the great Buster Keaton as a pratfalling bell boy.
SHE WENT TO THE RACES might not be an important or essential Hollywood classic, but it's a fun movie that's worth catching on TCM once in a while.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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