During the Civil War, two of the oldest families in Kentucy,the Dillons and the Goodwins, begin a long and bitter feud that has lasted into 1938. When Jack Dillon refuses to enter his father's banking business he,under an assumed name, gets a job as a trainer in Sally Goodwin's stables. A romance develops between them. When Sally's father dies, the entire estate---including the horses---has to be sold at auction to pay his debts. A note turns up left by Sally's father that according to a wager made between him and the elder Dillon, any one horse in the Dillon stable can be claimed by the Goodwins. Complications arise when Sally finds out that Jack is a Dillon.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night
Written by Stephen Foster
Played during the opening scene and occasionally throughout the picture See more »
KENTUCKY (David Butler, 1938) **1/2
This film had been shown on local Cable TV in the late 1990s, but I had missed out on its handful of broadcasts; in any case, the main reason that would have drawn me to it was the fact that amiable character actor Walter Brennan won the second of three Supporting Oscars (a record, also because all occurred within a five-year span!) for his performance here. In retrospect, while his contribution is easily the best thing about the movie, I would argue that Brennan's fellow nominees were perhaps more deserving of the accolade – since, for one thing, none would ever win eventually and they each involved more demanding roles! For the record, I have yet to catch Basil Rathbone in IF I WERE KING (as the French King Louis XI), but did get to see John Garfield in FOUR DAUGHTERS (his renowned debut), Gene Lockhart in ALGIERS (though Malta's own Joseph Calleia, in his personal favorite part, was no less impressive!) and Robert Morley in MARIE ANTOINETTE (as Louis XVI).
The film is nevertheless also notable for its gleaming Technicolor: that said, the thin narrative of a Southern Romeo and Juliet-type feud was hardly worthy of such exclusive attention, especially since its horse- racing backdrop had already been (more) successfully dealt with in monochrome in such classics as Frank Capra's Broadway BILL (1934) and the Marx Bros. vehicle A DAY AT THE RACES (1937)! Anyway, following a nicely atmospheric prologue set during the Civil War (the participation of Karen Morley and Douglass Dumbrille is restricted to this sequence), we fast-forward to contemporary times as their offsprings, Richard Greene and Loretta Young respectively, end up romancing each other without the latter knowing the former's true identity; he even trains their sole remaining horse (actually owed to them by Greene's banker father) after the patriarch blows away all their money on cotton whose price "nose-dived" soon after!
Brennan is the man's brother, a connoisseur of thoroughbreds but who is deemed an eccentric on account of his irascible behaviour – indeed, while Young had her eyes set on the champion stud in the Greene family stable, her uncle persuades the heroine to settle for the second-best – because he saw in its eyes what he calls "The Look Of Eagles", the title of the story which inspired the film! Incidentally, the scene where the stallion is chosen constitutes an undeniable highlight – the crooked groom hides the two horses from their enemies, but Eddie "Rochester" Anderson's singing the champion's praises are enthusiastically joined in by Brennan, egging him on into revealing its whereabouts! Despite the subject matter, only two contests are incorporated into the plot (and with the first being only heard on the radio in the ticket booth); both are won by the horse Brennan had faith in but its triumph at the all- important derby is too-briefly enjoyed by him, since he suffers a heart attack and expires at the racetrack. Unsurprisingly, 'uneducated' black servants abound throughout – notably a chicken thief expelled from one household and taken in by another. Finally, I guess I ought to point out that this was thrice remade – as DOWN ARGENTINE WAY (1940), HOME IN INDIANA (1944; also featuring Brennan) and APRIL LOVE (1957) – but, it goes without saying, I have no immediate interest in checking them out...
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