Monday, April 5, 2010

GLORY and Regret

Every now and then I'll flick through the channels and happen upon some sort of little cinematic gem, most often on Turner Classic Movies. This morning while having my initial cup of coffee (yeah, it takes a whole coffee village some mornings to make things happen) I made the fortuitous decision to check TCM's schedule for the day. To my great surprise TCM was showing a horse related movie that I not only had never seen, I'd never even heard of it. That doesn't happen too often, so I refilled my cup and sat down to watch Glory, from 1956.

Let me say straight off that this is not great cinema we're talking about was a comeback vehicle for then grown up nineteen-year-old Margaret O'Brien. Also in the cast were two great character actors, Charlotte Greenwood and Walter Brennan.

You know the basic story...there's a talented horse who is owned by a small breeder and at some point during the story said small breeder will have to sell (or run in a claiming race) the freakishly talented yearling or two year old before the horse has a chance to change all their lives by winning the Derby. There's also the requisite romance between the charming Margaret O'Brien and the son of a wealthy breeder down the road. Class differences ensue and boy and girl travel the rocky road to love and equine happiness. In the end, it is a rag-tag syndicate made up of farriers, grooms, and hot walkers who come up with the $1200 entry fee that enables Glory's, well, run to glory. (A small musical interlude to showcase Ms. O'Brien's vocal abilities is also included as is a wonderful scene with a mean girl who Ms. O'Brien dismisses with a riding crop!)

So many things were fun about this film, though. First, it's about a filly (named Glory, obviously) and the long and winding road to winning the 1955 Kentucky Derby. There are references to the amazing Regret as well as other historic horses and the filming was done on location at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and Calumet Farms so there were bucolic long shots of horses running in the fields. Walter Brennan reprises the role he played so often with Gary Cooper in films...a little shady, a little down and out, but with odd wisdom that emanates from his big and generous heart. And then there's Charlotte Greenwood, who is a riot. In addition to being the owner/breeder of Glory, she's a dyed-in-the-wool Brooklyn Dodgers fan who listens to the games, reads their box scores in the papers and calls them "dem lovely bums." She dreams of leaving horses and Kentucky bluegrass behind for her beloved Brooklyn and a place near Ebbets Field. (Ya gotta love Hollywood.) Finally, there's the actual 1955 Kentucky Derby film. The filmmakers used footage of Swaps (with Willie Shoemaker up) vs Nashua (Eddie Arcaro up) as the race between Glory and a rival colt.

Needless to say, I enjoyed every hokey minute and I'd likely even buy the DVD or VHS tape of it to add to my equine film library, but it doesn't seem to be available on home video. So here's a little taste of the film...
Original 1956 trailer for Glory.

And because it's just too much fun to look back at great's a nice little look back at the amazing Regret.

1 comment:

Sid Fernando said...

Is there a movie with horses in it that also didn't include Walter Brennan from that era? He was the type of character actor that later inspired Western-based character actors such as Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, to name two