Francis Goes to the Races


1h 28m 1951

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1951
Premiere Information
World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 4 Jul 1951; New York opening: 24 Jul 1951
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Arcadia--Santa Anita Racetrack, California, United States; French's Ranch, California, United States; Los Angeles--Hollywood Park Racetrack, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by David Stern.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

After bumbler Peter Sterling is fired for insisting that his pal, a mule named Francis, can talk, he and Francis set out to look for new employment. Along the way, Francis, who is eager to shake Pete, decides to stay with Sir Gallant, a racehorse who happens to be a distant relative. Pete, however, refuses to leave his "best friend" and follows Francis and the horse to Sir Gallant's stable, which is owned by Colonel Travers and his granddaughter Frances. There, Francis informs Pete that the Travers' sick horse Betsy Sue merely has a splinter in her neck, and when Pete offers this diagnosis to Frances and it proves correct, she is duly impressed. Francis claims to want Pete to leave him alone, but when Pete finally agrees to do so, the mule softens and informs him which horse has decided to win the next day's race, so Pete can bet on it and leave town with some money. At the racetrack the next day, Pete relays Francis' tip to the Traverses, and although they scoff, the bet pays off. The track investigators question Pete about who gave him the inside information, but consider him insane when he names a mule as his informant. Travers, meanwhile, believes that Pete must have an innate understanding of horses and hires him to help Sir Gallant, who is his star horse, win the big race, and save the Travers stable from bankruptcy. The next day, however, mobster "Square Deal" Mallory calls in a loan from Travers and takes away all of his horses, including Sir Gallant. Although Travers, discouraged, decides to quit the business, Frances urges Pete to buy back the horse with her savings of $25,000. When Pete visits Mallory, the wily gambler instead tricks him into buying an almost worthless horse, Sir Gallant's sister, Oakwood Gal. The Traverses are crushed and ask the police to trail Pete, assuming he is in league with Mallory. Francis tips off Pete to all of the next day's races so that he can make enough money to pay back the Traverses, but everyone who sees him win, including the police and Mallory, are now convinced he has an illegal informant. When Pete brings his winnings to the Traverses, however, they gain renewed faith in him and ask him to help train Oakwood Gal to win the big race. Soon after, Mallory forces Pete to place bets for him, but will not let him near Francis. Pete quickly loses both his money and the mobster's, but is saved from Mallory's wrath when he claims that Francis can talk, and Mallory assumes he is crazy. That night, Francis gets drunk by drinking the stablehand's liquor out of a pail, and when the Traverses rush into the stables to find out who is singing so loudly, they finally hear Francis speak. They then ask him to diagnose the sluggish Oakwood Gal, and after Francis counsels her on her "inferiority complex," she becomes a champion-level runner. Mallory soon learns of this, however, and sends his goons to cut her tendon, and when Francis calls the police on the mobsters, they shoot him. He recovers just before the big race, and has time to whisper to Sir Gallant that he should let his little sister win. Sir Gallant stops just short of the finish line, allowing her to win, but the racetrack officials assume that Pete has fixed the race. At the inquiry, Frances brings in Francis, who insists on announcing to the officials that Pete has been telling the truth about his speaking ability, freeing Pete from suspicion. As Colonel Travers and Frances celebrate their newfound riches, Pete and Francis drive off together.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1951
Premiere Information
World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 4 Jul 1951; New York opening: 24 Jul 1951
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Arcadia--Santa Anita Racetrack, California, United States; French's Ranch, California, United States; Los Angeles--Hollywood Park Racetrack, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by David Stern.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Francis Goes to the Races begins with a short sequence in which "Pete's" boss faints upon hearing "Francis" talk and Pete says, "Here we go again," after which the opening credits roll. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, some scenes were shot on location at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita Racetrack in Southern California, and at French's Ranch in Hidden Valley, CA. A December 4, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Lucille Barkley to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Modern sources add the following information: Francis' real name was Molly, and she was trained for all the Francis films by Les Hilton, who went on to train the horse who played "Mr. Ed" in the 1960s television series of the same name. Francis Goes to The Races was the second entry in Universal's "Francis" series. For more information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry for Francis in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 .