Friday Favorites 10/22/2010

Last week, my wife and I went to see the the new Disney Studios movie, Secretariat.   As a movie, it is exactly what I’ve come to expect of Disney sports movies – feel-good inspiration built around an underdog who triumphs in the end.   Think Remember the Titans with rich people and expensive horses.    Of course, it would be hard to make an underdog of Secretariat, so we have his owner, Penny Chenery (played nicely by Diana Lane), who inherits her father’s financially troubled horse farm but is determined to save it by racing its one quality horse.   As an underdog story, that doesn’t work quite as well as an African-American coach leading the first integrated High school football team to a championship in suburban Virginia in Remember the Titans. It’s a bit hard to get too think underdog when we’re talking about multi-millionaires, multi-million dollar farms and multi-million dollar horse but it provides a comfortable vehicle for the story of an amazing horse.  For my taste, the communication between Penny Chenery and Secretariat was a bit overplayed  … they’d gaze into each other’s eyes like lovers and we were supposed to believe that Secretariat got the message – You’ve got to win this race, Big Red, or Mommy’s going to lose the farm.   Still, the movie worked … it was exciting, even if I knew who’d win the races, mainly due to beautifully choreographed race scenes, and the details of the story behind the horse were interesting.   And the horse (uncredited) that played Secretariat was indeed big and red and beautiful.  I’d add that John Malkovich was terrific as the eccentric trainer.

The race scenes, particularly of the Belmont Stakes when Secretariat demolished his rival, Sham, by some 31 lengths, reminded me of how taken everyone was with the horse back in 1973.   It was a time when the war in Vietnam, abortion rights, a controversial president and the hippie movement were dividing the nation, yet it seemed as if the entire country was watching as Secretariat was loaded into the starting gate on June 9, 1973.   My wife and I had moved to California and I remember clearly watching the race at our house in Yorba Linda on our 24-inch console TV.   As somewhat of a sports junkie, I’ve probably watched a million sporting events and few stand out in my memory like that race, even though I’m not a horseracing fan.   The minute or so when Secretariat pulled away from Sham coming out of the back stretch was one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever seen.  Last week, when I got home from the movie, I Googled Secretariat Beats Sham in the Belmont Stakes and there it was, on YouTube.   I’ve included here for your viewing pleasure.   I’d recommend the movie but be sure to watch the real thing, too.

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4 Comments on “Friday Favorites 10/22/2010”

  1. territerri Says:

    Disney can almost always be counted on for a feel-good movie. I’m sure I’ll see this one… as soon as it comes out on DVD. I don’t do movie theaters.

    • oldereyes Says:

      It’s funny, as much of a pain as I am about movies, I’m a sucker for Disney’s sports movies, even though they’re inclined to sweeten the story a bit too much. I guess even a curmudgeon needs a little sugar.

  2. granny1947 Says:

    Good Morning Bud…doubt I will watch the movie…unless it comes on TV…never go to the movies…but thanks for the write up.
    Cold and miserable here today…doubt I will get to the beach!

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