The Homestretch


1h 36m 1947

Brief Synopsis

A film that qualifies as a Travelogue Documentary in that it contains footage of world-famous race tracks such as England's Ascot, Palermo in South America, and Churchill Downs, Jamaica, Aqueduct, Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Belmont, Hialeah, Arlington and Saratoga in the United States, and since it begins in London in 1938, the Coronation of the King. Jock Wallace (Cornel Wilde), an easy-going and rootless horse lover, is taken to task by Leslie Hale (Maureen O'Hara), who thinks he has swindled her Aunt Helen (Ethel Griffies) on the purchase of a horse. He finds out that she is engaged to Bill Van Dyke (Glenn Langan), a young diplomat, and follows her to London , entering the horse he acquired from Aunt Helen in the famed Ascot Gold Cup. Jock and Leslie fall in love and are married on a boat to South America. In Buenos Aires, Leslie is jealous of Kitty Brant (Helen Walker), an old flame of Jock's. Leslie wants Jock to settle down on his Maryland farm to raise and sell race horses, but he has too much gypsy in his blood and wants to follow the race-track circuit. They separate and he gives Leslie the horse that brought them together, and he hits the road. Leslie and old-time trainer "Doc" Ellbourne (James Gleason) then proceed to win race after race with the horse. Jock, contrite and converted, returns to his old homestead and begins training another horse. Will his horse beat her horse?

Film Details

Release Date
May 1947
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1947
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,961ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

Jock Wallace, scion of a well-known Maryland horse breeding family, and socialite Kitty Brant are longtime rivals at the horse racing tracks, but enjoy a close, bantering relationship. When the owner of racehorse "Abby R," which has recently won a major race at Santa Anita, dies suddenly, Jock and Kitty compete to buy the horse. In Boston, Jock sees the late owner's sister-in-law and pays $500 for the horse. Later, however, her niece Leslie Hale, accuses Jock of not paying enough and demands another $500. She is amazed when he tells her that the horse is actually worth about $30,000. Jock invites Leslie to see Abby R win the Kentucky Derby, but she informs him that she will be in London, where she is to marry U.S. State Department employee Bill Van Dyke III. Very interested in Leslie, Jock decides to enter Abby R to run at Ascot in England. The Coronation of King George VI is taking place in London, and when Bill has to leave suddenly to attend to embassy business in Madrid, Jock offers to escort Leslie to a dinner and a ball. The next day, she accompanies Jock to watch Abby R in practice runs and meets Jock's trainer, Doc Kilborne. Soon she is a regular attendee at the horse's workouts and is falling in love with Jock, who asks her to go with him to Argentina, where he plans to race Abby R after Ascot. Bill returns, however, and now compelled to choose between them, Leslie elects to continue with Bill. During the big race, Abby R has trouble with a leg and loses. Jock and Doc are about to leave on an Argentina-bound ship when Leslie shows up with a present for Jock--"Valiant," a colt he has admired. Having decided to marry Jock, Leslie sails with him to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the trio is welcomed at a party attended by several of Jock's horse racing friends, including Kitty, with whom Jock immediately begins competing to buy some local horses. Meanwhile, Doc treats Abby R's leg and soon has the horse running better than ever. When Leslie, who has discovered that Jock has been borrowing money from Kitty to support their lavish lifestyle, becomes pregnant, she begs Jock to take her back to his home in Maryland. Jock tells her that if Abby R wins the Gran Premio race, they will be able to return and also have enough money to repair the property. However, after Abby R wins, Jock goes back on his word and does not plan to return immediately to the U.S. Meantime, he and Kitty are still seeing each other, and after finding them together one evening, Leslie drives off in a rage and crashes into a tree. She loses the baby and decides to divorce Jock, accusing him of never having wanted the baby. She has sent for Bill and together they fly back to the U.S. Back in Boston, Doc visits Leslie and asks her what he should do with Valiant, as Jock has signed the horse back to her. As a form of revenge, Leslie decides to race Valiant in the Kentucky Derby against Relampago, a horse Kitty has bought in Argentina, and she and Doc try out Valiant at Hialeah, where Relampago is also running. Relampago is virtually uncontrollable and throws his jockey for the third time. Valiant wins and also triumphs against Relampago in races at Saratoga, Belmont, Jamaica and Hollywood Park. Meanwhile, Jock has returned to the U.S. and is working at Hollywood Park where, after another disastrous showing, Kitty gives him Relampago. After Jock discovers that the horse is only happy and malleable when spoken to in Spanish, he enters Relampago in the Kentucky Derby in direct competition with Valiant. Doc tells Leslie that Jock has staked everything, including his farm, on winning, and when the race ends with a neck-and-neck finish between Valiant and Relampago, Leslie finds herself cheering on Relampago, to Bill's dismay. Valiant wins, but back in Maryland, Jock discovers that Doc has returned with both Relampago and Valiant as well as Leslie, who has finally decided to spend the rest of her life with Jock.

Film Details

Release Date
May 1947
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1947
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,961ft (10 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection and Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, The Homestretch was originally planned as a remake of the studio's 1936 release To Mary-With Love (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4669). In early November 1944, writer Eleanore Griffin submitted an outline for the film which transposed the arena of the story from the business world to show business. At a story conference later that same month, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck proposed switching the arena to horse racing. In April 1945, credited scenarist Wanda Tuchock submitted a story line for The Homestretch, which closely resembled the final script. Tuchock's story bore little resemblance to To Mary-With Love although two character names, "Jock Wallace" and "Kitty Brant," were retained. When the studio submitted the final screenplay to Richard Sherman, the author of the original story of To Mary-With Love, he agreed that the works were not similar and declined credit on The Homestretch.
       In October 1945, a Hollywood Reporter news item indicated that Fred MacMurray would probably star in the picture and an early May 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Linda Darnell would be the female lead. According to studio production files, racing footage was shot at Hollywood Park throughout May 1946. According to a studio press release, the original budget was set at $2,400,000 but, as production progressed, the shooting schedule was expanded to incorporate added love scenes between Wilde and O'Hara. These added scenes increased the budget by $175,000. The release also states that of the eighty-five days of shooting, thirty-five were spent at nearby locations, including the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia; Hollywood Park; "Ric-Su-Dar"-Darryl F. Zanuck's ranch on Havenhurst Blvd. in Encino; the Riviera Country Club; and Busch Gardens in Pasadena, where the studio built a race track and stables. As indicated in production files, a few color stock shots from foreign race tracks, as well as color footage of the Coronation of King George VI in Great Britain, were incorporated into the film. A radio version of The Homestretch was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on May 17, 1948 and starred Cornel Wilde and Maureen O'Hara.