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The Pace That Thrills

The Pace That Thrills(1952)

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When Los Angeles reporter Eve Drake observes top motorcyclist "Dusty" Dick L. Weston executing what she considers to be dirty tricks during a race, she is shocked and disgusted. Eve, who has been assigned to write a story about motorcycling, refrains from denouncing the womanizing Dusty as she presents him with his trophy, but slaps him when he tries to kiss her. Eve's subsequent damning column about motorcycling distresses J. C. Barton, the head of the financially troubled Barton Motorcycle Company, for which Dusty works as salesman. Dusty, who like many others, feels that his racing tactics are within the bounds of acceptable sportsmanship, denounces Eve, but Barton cautions him against further antagonizing her. That night, at the home of motorcycle mechanic Rocket Anderson, where Dusty rents a room, Dusty and his best friend, Chris Rhodes, a motorcycle designer at Barton's, discuss Eve. When Dusty rejects Chris's suggestion to try to "soften her up," Chris, who finds Eve attractive, decides to do the job himself. To that end, Chris invites Eve to ride on the back of his motorcycle and takes her to Crater Camp, where motorcycle enthusiasts practice trick riding and race one another. Eve is impressed by the skill and energy of the participants and admits to Chris that she may have misjudged the sport. Chris then convinces Dusty to be interviewed by Eve, and after he hears her say that she was wrong, he tells her about growing up in an orphanage with Chris. Later, on the way back to town, Chris and Dusty start racing each other and are spotted by two motorcycle officers. As the officers give chase, Chris, who is riding with Eve, and Dusty, with admirer Opal, careen off the highway and land in a muddy ditch. Although Eve laughs about the incident, a critical story appears in the next day's paper, infuriating Barton. Assuming that the cocky Dusty instigated the race, Barton fires him and insists that Chris ride his new hydraulic motorcycle in the upcoming touring trophy race, even though Dusty is the better cyclist. When Chris protests, Dusty pretends to be angry at him to keep him from being fired as well. Dusty then declares that he will beat Chris in the trophy race. Later, at Rocket's house, Dusty finds Eve waiting and accepts her apologies about the news story. Finally admitting her attraction, Eve agrees to go out with Dusty after the race. During the race, which Barton watches anxiously with a prospective investor, Chris has a comfortable lead over Dusty until his bike's gears suddenly jam, causing him to fall. As Chris attempts to get back on his bike, Dusty deliberately knocks him down, breaking his leg, and goes on to win. Eve angrily condemns Dusty, and another disapproving racer picks a fight with him in a restaurant. Barton, meanwhile, informs Chris and Rocket that because of the hydraulic bike's failure, he lost his chance at a loan and must close down the factory. After Dusty apologizes to Chris, who understands Dusty's "win at any cost" attitude, Eve offers Chris her savings so that he can perfect his hydraulic bike on his own. Dusty prepares to leave town, but before going, hears about Eve's sacrifice and asks Rocket to give Chris additional money that he will send back from the road. Dusty then joins the carnival circuit as a trick rider and, with Rocket acting as his front, helps Chris pay for his new design. As work on the bike progresses, Chris and Eve grow close, although Eve still has feelings for Dusty. When Dusty finally returns to town, Chris, who found out about his friend's generosity from Rocket, admits that he is in love with Eve, but knows she does not as yet return his affection. Stunned, Dusty declares that he is leaving town again after the next trophy race, in which he has agreed to ride Chris's renovated bike. Dusty then has a talk with Eve, trying to convince her that Chris is the man for her. After Eve declares her love, however, Dusty also confesses, and the two kiss. Just before the race, Dusty informs Chris that he and Eve are engaged, prompting Chris to slug his friend and enter the race himself. Dusty enters on another bike, and the men battle each other for several laps. As they near the finish, Chris, whose leg is not completely healed, falls in front of Dusty. Abandoning his usual tactics, Dusty falls next to Chris, who remounts and wins the race. Overjoyed by his bike's success, Chris congratulates Dusty and Eve on their engagement.