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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting It Right

- Glad to see that ESPN has finally lived up to its promises and provided some meaningful promotion for the Breeders' Cup, and horse racing in general. On Monday evening, they showed Let It Ride on ESPN Classic. That movie is, I believe, the only instance in which the racetrack experience has ever been captured with any sort of justice on film. It could do more to promote the game than all of the shrill talking heads like Tessitore and Schrupp combined about a hundred times over. There it is, in roughly 90 minutes, what we all - many of us anyway - love about this game. The ups, the downs, the highbrow, the degenerates, handicapping, inside info, hunch bets, the competitive and wary camaraderie, the characters and...oh, the characters!.....the women [Greenberg: She has very long legs. Vicki: Thanks. They go from my ass all the way to the floor], that always-present edge of sleaze, the madness, the mayhem, the eternal optimism that never, ever dies.

In the effort to attract new fans, Let It Ride could be useful as a screening process. Anyone who watches it and has no desire whatsoever to learn more about the track is hereby dismissed. Go back to your slots, your NASCAR, your poker, your American Idle (don't write, misspelling intentional), we don't want you and we're not going to waste yours or our time. If you don't want to gamble and have some fun, this sport is not for you. The film, and the sport it celebrates, all revolves around the betting, the action, the quest for a big score at the windows. I mean, the horses are beautiful and majestic, the races are, at times, exciting, and the settings are, at times, beautiful. But without the action, what is there, really? Do any of you really want to spend a day at the races in Dubai? Can you imagine the UAE version of Let It Ride? Jay Trotter is a migrant worker who has a very good day when he gets a day off and Looney gives him a ride to the track on a camel. And Vicki's legs (nor any other body part) are even in sight!

21 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved Let It Ride from the opening credits to the close. A good friend of mine however, despite liking the film, thought Richard Dreyfus was badly miscast in his role. What do you think??

Anonymous said...

another gambling film i love is altman's california split. only one trip to the track i think but great.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Split
cheers, chris

dc said...

I love Lord Byron.

Anonymous said...

you might find this weird but i enjoy just watching races like a normal sport and not gambling on them. i gamble but only on horses i have an edge with. i do love let it ride though!

alan said...

>>A good friend of mine however, despite liking the film, thought Richard Dreyfus was badly miscast in his role. What do you think??

I suppose it was an interesting casting choice. But after so many years and so many viewings, Richard Dreyfuss IS Jay Trotter, and I couldn't imagine it any other way!

Anonymous said...

I saw the film for the 10th time and still love it. The best scene was at or near the end when Dreyfuss (as Trotter who won close to half a million dollars on his lucky streak) eschews his newly found rich friends in the club house and goes back to his grandstand bar bettors with his pick for the next race and after all of them are roused in support for his luck, he wants to let it all ride on his next pick, thinking everyone will join him and they slowly peel away from him and go back to handicapping using their losing methods. That is typical for the day in and day out bettor. Great film . See it with someone you love.

Anonymous said...

This is a horrible film. That said, I do love it. Not sure it really translates for non gambling degenerates.

"Hey- Trotter. It's the cheese. Who do you like in the 5th?"

Anonymous said...

If you want a movie for gambling but no fun...Owning Mahowny.
RG

Anonymous said...

Dreyfus and DeVito in "Tin Men", Pimilco never looked so good.

Glimmerglass said...

Sadly I missed the memo citing it was going to be on ESPN-Classic. I had to make due with watching "The Killing" last week on the Fox Movie Channel. Poor old Red Lightning in the 7th race ...

El Angelo said...

Am I having a good day, or what?

Best line in the movie by a mile.

SaratogaSpa said...

Dammit ! missed it, will have to set the DVR to try to find it if it runs again!

Anonymous said...

The last two blogs are what keep me coming back.

All, thx for the gambling movie tips.

alan said...

Another memorable gambling movie, though not about racing and not the least bit funny (and rather intense) is The Gambler (1974), with James Caan.

Glimmerglass said...

I'd suggest to any one to seek out William Holden's 1952 performance in Boots Malone for a good flick about the backside of racing life. Boots being a jockey's agent who has bottomed out, but has one more chance.

Turner Network Classic aired it this summer and has had it in rotation a few times.

The black and white film does get into wagering briefly from the perspective of the grooms who know when the fix is in. The workout footage alone is better then any 'horse movie' made in the last 20 years, save for Seabiscuit.

forego is my witness said...

I'm also like anon. 2:29. Yes, I do bet sometimes, but only on what I feel are "sure things." (Please don't ask how that works out for me!) I go to watch the horses run, see them in the paddock, (hopefully) enjoy the grounds, drinks some beers, and observe the people all around me. I'm a horrible handicapper, and learned long ago it's better to spend my money on beer -- at least I know going in I'm gonna piss it all away anyway!

Anonymous said...

So go to TCM.com and request horse racing movies.
RG

Anonymous said...

Let It Ride sounds like a winner to me- I wanna see it. Alas,Richard Dreyfus is not my idea of the leading man in a racetrack reality TV show; Harvey Pack, call your office. Will someone post an alert the next time they see it scheduled on ESPN or TCN? Dittos, Forego, I don't need wagering action for 9, 10, or 11 races, it's just nice to be at Saratoga, or Belmont, check out some Vicki's as well as some 4 legged fillies, it's the whole package that makes it simply irresistable.
/S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember "My Old Man" ? Not a great movie-about a down and out father and his daughter bringing a race horse to Saratoga. Shot at the Saratoga Race Course.

Anonymous said...

a great movie.

Glimmerglass said...

Anon 5:32 - "My Old Man" actually was a story written by Ernest Hemingway, but adapted for the 1979 made for tv movie. Never seen it but I have to pause when I see the daughter is actress Kristy McNichol.

NYT's review My Old Man