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Boots Malone is jockey's agent and a bit of a wheeler-dealer who went from living at the Ritz to living in a room at the stables when his star jockey was killed in an accident. After nearly three years, he has yet to find a replacement for him. Along with his cronies at the track, he manages to buy a horse that's a bit of a sleeper. Their hopes of cashing in big take a positive turn when Boots decides to train an eager young man, who turns out to be a runaway from a rich family, as a jockey. When gangsters tell Boots to throw the race in favor of another horse, he faces a major dilemma. Written by
I have lived and worked with thoroughbred racehorses for over thirty years and "thoroughly" enjoy re-watching and recommending "Boots Malone." It is an actual "Hollywood Classic" because it tells a story and tells it well. It is distressing to read the many poor synopses of the movie and the "I'm-a-cineaste-and-you'll-never-be" attitude of the reviewers. Boots is charging Tommy for "jockey" lessons after Tommy reveals that he has a lot of money. Boots is also considering "selling" Tommy back to his mother. This is the exact same character which he portrays in the also excellent Stalag 17 (scum of the earth with lots of class).
The film has everything you could possibly want to tell your friends about the racetrack. From organized gambling, win-mad owners, touts, corner-cutting sharpies (that's Boots), claiming races, auctions, the joke with the muck sack (Tommy falls in the pit), the Stewards review of the objection, and especially the scene in the Jock's Room where Tommy calls a rider "rail-shy." The man really is a jockey and beats the snot out of the kid.
Just a few things wrong, though, and it's almost like the mistakes were made deliberately. First, jockey agents are not permitted in the saddling paddock before a race. This is a rule. Second, the racetrack, Dellington, is on the East Coast, north of Baltimore according to the train destination board. Since the movie appears to have been made at Del Mar, there are palm trees in the background. Third, I've never been to an auction where there are drunken men in tuxedos and women in evening gowns. These things are strictly business. If you think you're smarter than the rest of the people there, you'd better be prepared to prove it.
Oh, and one more thing. Had I been a Steward, "White Cargo" would have been disqualified for interference. The objection was that Tommy hit the other horse with his whip, which he did not do because he is whipping with his left hand. But the horse is "getting out" badly precisely because the rider is whipping left-handed and pulling the horse to the right with the hand holding the reins. Watch for it when you go to the races, it is a frequent occurrence.
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