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Broadway Bill

(1934 b 102')

En: 5 Ed: 4

A man leaves his rich father-in-law to enter his spirited racehorse in the derby with the help of his wife's sister.

J. L. Higgins (Walter Connolly) calls a board meeting at his dinner table with his four daughters and three son-in-laws; but Dan Brooks (Warner Baxter) refuses to give up his race horse to concentrate on the paper box business, resigning and leaving Higginsville. His wife Margaret (Helen Vinson) declines to join him. Dan enters his horse Broadway Bill in the derby and tries to raise needed money. He gets some from the shoes of his black horse trainer Whitey (Clarence Muse); but his friend Col. Pettigrew (Raymond Wallburn) is equally broke. They make the waiter spill the food to escape from a fancy restaurant and get hamburgers. Dan's truck sells for $35 to enter Broadway Bill in a race; but the horse runs off before it starts. Margaret shows her sister Alice (Myrna Loy) Dan's letter, and Alice rushes to Dan's rescue with the rooster that comforts the horse and with cash. Pop asks for money for the horse's feed but is put off by the colonel and Happy pretending they have invested in the horse. Rain leaks into the barn, and Broadway Bill gets sick. Margaret asks her father to keep Dan's job open. The colonel and Happy get $25 selling a tip, but the colonel loses it by betting on the phony tip. Whitey gets beat up for using crooked dice; but Alice gives him money secretly.

Pop takes the horse for non-payment of feed, and the resisting Dan is arrested. Alice visits him in jail, and Broadway Bill is listed as 100-1. When a rich man is persuaded to bet $2 on him, rumors spread so fast that the odds go down to 6-1. This pleases Eddie Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille), as odds on Sun-up go from 4-1 to 20-1. When Morgan learns that Broadway Bill scratched, he gives Dan money and a jockey. He also has fixed the jockey of the favorite Gallant Lady, though that jockey gets suspended. Dan tells his jockey not to hold back Broadway Bill; but after being in the lead, he does. However, Broadway Bill passes the other horses and wins; but then he throws the jockey and dies of a heart attack. The horse is eulogized for his courage. Alice says good-bye to Dan, and Dan tells Higgins he is not going back. Higgins sells his businesses back to their founders. Dan breaks windows and demands "Princess" Alice. She goes out to him, and he shows her his new horses. Higgins even runs after them.

Horse racing is portrayed as much more fun and exciting than business. The values found in most of this hysteria leave much to be desired. The poor horse was coaxed into racing while sick and died in the effort. This may have some escapist entertainment value, but most of the lessons are backwards.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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