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David Palmer, a young chemist, returns to his father's Indiana farm, to marry a local school teacher, Ruth Treadwell. David meets again his father's horse-trainer, Ben Lathrop, whose daughter, Cissy, has left high school to help her father. Palmer marries and becomes wealthy through an invention, and is able to indulge his socially-ambitious wife. His father dies and Palmer returns to Indiana, where his interest in harness-racing is rekindled, as is his interest in Cissy Lathrop. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
What Man O' War was to flat thoroughbred racing Dan Patch was to the sport of harness racing. During the Teddy Roosevelt era in our history this horse was a much a sports hero as Christy Mathewson or John L. Sullivan. He retired undefeated and as the film shows many of his races were simply against the clock as he tried to beat his own pacing speed records which stood for many years.
But the film The Great Dan Patch is about his original owners who bred and trained him and the trouble that one of them had with the women in his life. Dennis O'Keefe who was raised on an Indiana farm by father Henry Hull and aunt Charlotte Greenwood had a love of horses, but also a love of science. He patented some chemistry formulas and became wealthy. However two women are in love with O'Keefe. Gail Russell who is the daughter of Dan Patch's original trainer John Hoyt and Ruth Warrick who is the town school teacher.
O'Keefe's life would have been real simple had he married Russell who shares his interest in horses. But Warrick marries a man who will allow her to live and circulate in high society. She's got an interesting part, it's almost like O'Keefe married the grandmother of Harriet Craig.
If you're expecting a Secretariat like movie with the emphasis on the horse, this will not be the film for you. The Great Dan Patch just keeps on winning harness races as the humans around him make great big mistakes in their personal lives.
It's a decent film, but I would like to have seen more of the horse.
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