An English Professor tries to deal with his wife leaving him, the arrival of his editor who has been waiting for his book for seven years, and the various problems that his friends and associates involve him in.
It's the Depression, and everyone needs to hold onto a dream to get them through the bad times. Car maker Charles Howard is no different, he who is trying to rebuild his life after the tragic death of his only child and the resulting end of his first marriage. With second wife Marcela at his side, Charles wants to get into horse racing and ends up with a team of underdogs who are also chasing their own dream. The first is trainer Tom Smith, who has a natural instinct to spot the capabilities of horses. The second is the horse Tom chooses for Charles, Seabiscuit, an unconventional choice as despite his pedigreed lineage, Seabiscuit is small at fifteen and a half hands tall with a slight limp. But Tom can see something in Seabiscuit's nature to make him a winner, if only Seabiscuit can be retrained from his inbred losing ways. And third is the jockey they decide to hire, Johnny "Red" Pollard, so nicknamed because of his hair color. Like Tom, Red has always shown a natural way with ...Written by
Jockey Red Pollard is shown to keep his weight down by starving to 115 pounds. This was because Seabiscuit, when young and already small, had to run in what are called handicap races. The "handicap" is an added weight that is assigned to each horse according to its past races and its predicted ability to run against horses who weigh more or less than it does. Many jockeys will starve themselves so that their horse will carry as little weight as possible - their own weight plus the lead weights which are laid into the saddle of the running horses. Red Pollard, at 5'7", raced against professionals who were 5'3" - but many jockeys will do almost anything if they love racing enough and are daring enough to risk their bodies. See more »
When Smith sees Seabiscuit for the first time, he says that the horse walked with a limp (Seabiscuit had mildly crippled knees in real life). The horse is not walking with a limp at all. See more »
Though I enjoyed this film, I have to agree that it doesn't quite make it - it feels a bit too much like a documentary with some rather familiar melodramatic moments thrown in. Having just read the book and watched the movie back-to-back, I especially noticed where they over-simplified the story (I know - it can't be helped when transferring a story from page to screen), where they changed the facts, and where they over-simplified the *message*, too. I know it's nit-picking, but I just want to mention the following points:
1) Red Pollard's parents did NOT in any way abandon him, despite losing their money. *He* was the one who wanted to try to make his way in the world. It was the family friend who was supposed to be looking out for him who abandoned him.
2) Charles Howard's son was 16, not 12, when he died in a car accident going fishing, and *not* because his father pressured him in any way.
3) As I understand it, Red Pollard never told anyone except his wife that he was blind in his right eye, and Charles Howard and Tom Smith both went to their graves without realizing that their former jockey could only see out of one eye.
4)The movie turns Tom Smith into a kind of clichéd "horse whisperer", which was true, but it left out his very marked ornery side - the mind games he was always playing with reporters, the fact that he cared more about horses than people, to the point of not even noticing when one of his underlings was very sick.
5) The movie does not show the extent of Red Pollard's injuries - he had not one but three serious riding accidents before winning the Santa Anita (including the one where he lost his sight). Yes, his leg was shattered, but that was only part of it. He paid for his success with his health, and suffered chronic pain for the rest of his life from the injuries he sustained. Of course, that doesn't play very well in a "You can do anything if only you believe and work hard" kind of movie, but IMO, sometimes the price of achieving a particular dream *is* too high.
6) The movie also mostly leaves out the "class struggle" that Laura Hillenbrand depicts so clearly in her book. One of the reasons Pollard suffered so much was because nobody (especially the horse-owners) cared about the safety or welfare of the jockeys (Howard being an honourable exception). This might have been harder to show on film, but I think it would have made a more complex and more interesting movie.
7) Just my opinion, but I didn't much like the actress who played Marcella Howard. MH seems to have been a unique and interesting person, and this actress seems rather generic to me. Plus, I gather that MH was Mexican or at least Hispanic. I don't know whether she did or not, but I pictured her speaking with a slight Mexican accent.
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