Under My Skin


1h 26m 1950

Brief Synopsis

When jockey Dan Butler wins a steeplechase race he had agreed to throw, he is roughed up and threatened by the racketeer he disappointed, Louis Bork. Dan and his young son Joe travel through Europe, Dan hoping to win enough to pay off Bork and get Joe safely back to America.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Big Fall
Release Date
Mar 1950
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Mar 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Italy; France
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "My Old Man" by Ernest Hemingway (Paris, 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,733ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

Dan Butler, an American jockey who is working in Merano, Italy, because he threw too many races in the U.S., is paid to lose a race by gangster Louis Bork. Dan unavoidably wins the race and prepares to leave Merano for Paris before Bork and his thugs, Rico and Max, catch up with him. He sends his young son Joe on to the station to wait for him before fighting with and escaping from Bork. Dan and Joe arrive in Paris and go to visit an old friend, only to be told by the friend's former girl friend, Paule Manet, that he was killed because of crooked gambling debts in which Dan got him involved. Paule, who blames Dan for her lover's death, is the owner of a café where she also performs as a singer. While Dan looks for trunks he had shipped to the café's address, Joe falls asleep at a café table. Paule takes Joe to her apartment where he tells her that his mother is dead but his aunt and uncle are living in Michigan. The next day, at a race track, Dan meets an old friend, English jockey George Gardner, and looks for work with a trainer, Drake. Later, as Paule gives Joe French lessons at the café, Dan spots Bork and his henchmen. Bork threatens to kill Dan unless he comes up with the the advance money he paid him for the Italian job within a week. After Paule refuses to become involved in Dan's problems, Dan learns that a race in which George is riding the favorite has been fixed and bets on the other horse. Joe is saddened by his father's wager, even though he wins a lot of money, and tells him that he is a crook. Dan slaps Joe and later decides to send him to his aunt in Michigan, putting him on a boat train. Sometime later, Dan buys a rambunctious horse from Drake and prepares to train him for racing. Soon after, Paule shows up at the stables with Joe, who did not leave, and Dan is happy to see him. When Joe notices that the horse, Gilford, is a natural jumper, he tells his father to try him as a steeplechaser. Dan and Gilford win a number of races, and Bork, whom Dan has been repaying in installments, announces that with the new horse, everyone can make a lot of money. Although he knows that Gilford could easily win an upcoming major race, Bork tells Dan that he must lose. Dan refuses to throw the race, however, and is beaten by Bork and his thugs. Bork then tells Dan that if he throws the race, he will be a free man but if he refuses, he will be a dead man. Paule, who has fallen in love with Dan, suspects that he is going to cooperate with Bork and tells him it will alienate Joe. Later, however, Paule changes her mind and tells Dan to lose so he can be free but Dan, who returns Paule's love, wants to win for Joe. After George warns Dan that Bork will probably have a jockey in the same race to make sure that he cooperates, Dan gives him a letter so that he can collect the purse money in the event that something happens to him. In the race, Dan is jostled by Bork's rider, Maurice, but recovers. George, riding interference for Dan, is eliminated from the race by Maurice. Dan is on his own but goes on to take Maurice out of the race. With Paule and Joe cheering him on, Dan wins the race but is thrown off when a riderless horse collides with Gilford. After Dan dies from injuries sustained in the fall, George tells Joe that his father rode the greatest race he ever saw and won it honestly. Their faith restored, Paule and Joe walk off together.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Big Fall
Release Date
Mar 1950
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Mar 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Italy; France
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "My Old Man" by Ernest Hemingway (Paris, 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,733ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was The Big Fall. According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, although the Ernest Hemingway short story, "My Old Man," was in the public domain in the U.S., the studio paid $50,000 in January 1949 to acquire world rights. As part of the contract, Hemingway stipulated that the horse names, "Kzar" and "Kircubbin," which were also names of then-famous French racing sires, could not be used in the film. In the summer of 1949, long shots of horse races and establishing shots using doubles for the principal actors were filmed at several race tracks in Italy and France according to a June 1950 American Cinematographer article. Studio shooting began on September 12, 1949, but on 25 Sep, after a game of tennis, John Garfield suffered myocardial muscle strain, an early manifestation of the heart condition which would eventually cause his death, at age 39, on May 21, 1952. Director Jean Negulesco shot around Garfield for two or three days, but production was shut down for three weeks so that Garfield could get the complete rest ordered by his physician.
       French actress Micheline Presle, who had been signed to a two-picture contract by Twentieth Century-Fox in August 1948 at $40,000 per film, was renamed Prelle for Under My Skin as well as for the second film she made for the studio, American Guerrilla in the Philippines (see entry above). When the film was released in Spain, a new credit card was shot eliminating Hemingway's name, due to his well-known and long-standing anti-fascist views. Some cast lists include actors Alphonse Martell, Jean Del Val, Guy de Vestel, Albert Pollet and Maurice Brierre in minor supporting roles, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. In 1979, producer Robert Halmi made a television version of Hemingway's story, starring Warren Oates, Eileen Brennan and Kristy McNichol.