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Horse trainer Shawn O'Hara and his lovely niece, Margaret, come to America to escape the memory of an accident involving Margaret's brother, Danny. Working with thoroughbreds in Kentucky, Shawn takes a liking to a yearling named Seabiscuit, and fights to convince the horse's owner that the tiny horse with big knees will become a top-notch racehorse. Meanwhile, Margaret begins a tentative relationship with jockey Ted Knowles, but is haunted by her brother's death in a steeplechase spill. Written by
Seabiscuit's pre-Charles S. Howard silks are shown as green and white. Before Howard bought him Wheatley Stables owned Seabiscuit. Their silks were golden yellow with purple sleeves and cap. See more »
[voice over narration]
Here in Kentucky is the Blue Grass Country where champions are born. Black, beige and chestnut. Glorious creatures. Born to run and keep on running.
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"The Story of Seabiscuit", which was shown recently on TCM, is a film that is pleasant to sit through, but inferior to the much better "Seabiscuit" that came out on 2003, based on the magnificent book by Laura Hillenbrand and directed by Gary Ross. This 1949 movie was perhaps a vehicle for an adult Shirley Temple. As directed by David Butler, the film has some good moments.
The best thing in the movie is the irresistible Barry Fitzgerald. As Shawn O'Hara, he comes to America to work with horses at the Milford Farms. He arrives with his niece, Margaret. Shawn knows a lot about horses and he spots Seabiscuit right away. His love for the horse puts him at odds with George, the head trainer. Since Seabiscuit doesn't show anything at the beginning and Shawn's health seems to deteriorate, Shawn and Margaret decide to go on to California to work with the Howards, a couple that appreciate Shawn's advice.
Among the recommendations Shawn tells the Howards, is to buy Seabiscuit from Mr. Milford for the sum of six thousand dollars. After Shawn resumes training the horse, and with the help of Ted Knowles, the jockey, Seabiscuit begins to respond and win. Seabiscuit was a legend in the sport.
The story is conventional, but totally watchable by the presence of Barry Fitzgerald. He steals every scene in which he appears. Shirley Temple is not believable with her Irish accent, but she is a sweet figure in the story. Lon McCallister, playing Ted, is fine. Rosemarie DeCamp is an elegant figure who doesn't get much to do.
The film doesn't attempt to be anything but a semi documentary about Seabiscuit and its trainer and the relationship between them. Horse race fans will have a good time with the film thanks to Mr. Fitzgerald's contribution.
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