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After expatriate American jockey Danny Arnold double-crosses ruthless gambler Louis Bork, he flees Italy with his adoring son Joe, who isn't aware of his father's lies and corruption. While in France he begins a relationship with a beautiful French nightclub singer and buys a problematic racehorse that no one seems to be able to train. After Joe suggests that the horse has a future as a jumper, Danny converts him to the steeplechase and turns him into a consistent winner. When Bork shows up and tells him he must lose the big race or die, Danny must weigh his life against his son's faith that he has become a man of honor. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Back during the era when there was a Production Code, folks who were wicked HAD to be punished and the leading men had to be nice guys. That's just the way it was. However, over the years, this code began to ease just a bit--and in the case of "Under My Skin" it seems to have eased a lot, as the leading character, Dan (John Garfield) is with barely a single redeeming quality through much of the movie.
The film begins with Dan and his young son running away from bookies in Italy. It seems that he double-crossed one of them (Luther Adler) and now he and the kid are hiding out in France. Always looking for an angle, Dan is looking for that one score to make it big...but at heart he's just a cheap hustler. His son, on the other hand, doesn't yet realize the sort of guy his dad is...but you know sooner or later he will.
For once, Dan has a chance to do the right thing. He's gotten a horse who is a winner and he can take this horse to the top...if it wasn't for the bookie. This scum has finally caught up with Dan and threatens to kill him if he doesn't throw his next race. What's Dan to do-- take it safe or work, finally, for some self-respect?
Despite being a very downbeat film, this is a very good movie. It's quite unique and the acting is excellent. My only gripes are technical. Although I really liked this film, I was NOT impressed by having Garfield play a jockey. Sure, he's not exactly tall but he's way too tall and bulky to be believable. It's a shame, as he was otherwise excellent in the film. Additionally, some of the scenes are sloppy--such as the opening scene where the guy running is pretty obviously NOT Garfield and the horse race scenes where Garfield is clearly NOT riding a real horse but is acting against a rear- projected bit of footage (in a few, however, such as the BIG race near the end, it's done MUCH better). For these reasons, I couldn't score the film a bit higher--but it still is well worth seeing. Just don't expect a feel good film!!
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