The Winners Circle of Horse Movies

In honor of the Breeders Cup coming up this weekend, I thought I’d watch a few good movies about horse racing. I got together with our stores in Kentucky, which have horses on the brain most days, and together we got to work on this short list. Many of these films vary on technical merit and cinematic style, but they all have one thing in common – a good story. I sifted through a lot of horse movies. There are actually quite a few out there beyond Black Beauty. You’ve heard it straight from the horse’s mouth – here are the must-see winners.

WIN Seabiscuit (2003) takes place in the middle of the depression, when everyone is looking for some sort of hope– and many find it in the unlikely story of the horse named Seabiscuit. This is the true story of an undersized horse, a jockey who is too big and blind in one eye, and an owner recovering from the death of a child and a failed marriage: all underdogs that have faith in one another and defy the odds. Jeff Bridges gives a great performance as horse owner Charles Howard and Tobey Maguire is excellent  playing the hot-headed jockey Red Pollard. This one will bring tears to your eyes and have you cheering on the couch! Note: There’s also the original romance, The Story of Seabiscuit (1949).

National Velvet (1944), which was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and won two. This is one of MGM’s all time classic films and the film that made Elizabeth Taylor a star. Everyone probably knows the story already of Velvet Brown, the young girl who wins a horse in a town lottery. Enter Mi Taylor, played by Mickey Rooney. Mi is encouraged to train the horse for England’s Grand National Sweepstakes, and with a young Elizabeth Taylor riding, the rest is history.

SHOW Sort of changing horses mid-race, here is an obscure selection that I really enjoy – The Longshot (1986). This film stars Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, so you know what type of film this is. Four racetrack regulars borrow money from gangsters to bet on a sure winner– and lose. Now they need money to get money to pay off their debt. If you are a fan of going to the horse races, this is a must see, as there is so much truth to everything that happens. It will keep you laughing all the way to the ticket window.

Well, there are my WIN, PLACE and SHOW finishers for movies on horse racing movies. Many other films that feature horses include the recent Secretariat (2010), country music sensation Flicka (2006), the animated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) and the love story Something to Talk About (1995). Speaking of horse movies, be on the lookout for Steven Spielberg’s new film, War Horse (2011) which debutes in theaters on Christmas Day. Although it’s a horse of a different color, it looks to be very good. Do you have any favorite horse films?

Remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation,

– Jim

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