Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Walter Connolly, Helen Vinson, Douglass Dumbrille, Raymond Walburn, Lynne Overman, Clarence Muse, Margaret Hamilton, Parul Harvey, Claude Gillingwater, Charles Lane, Ward Bond
Written by: Robert Riskin, from a story by Mark Hellinger
Directed by: Frank Capra
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 102
Date: 11/30/1934
IMDB

Broadway Bill (1934)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Horse Case Scenario

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In 1934, Frank Capra earned a huge box office take and Oscar gold with It Happened One Night. The same year, he released a second film that remains largely uncelebrated and perhaps almost forgotten, Broadway Bill. Of course, it's not nearly as savvy or witty as It Happened One Night, but it's a delightful time-passer, presented in that crisp Capra manner.

Warner Baxter plays a horse trainer who has been working in a corporate office (as the head of a paper box company) to please his wealthy wife. On a whim, he decides to quit and pursue his dream with his prized horse Broadway Bill. He enters a big race and faces all kinds of opposition, from his chronic lack of money to Bill's sentimental attachment to a rooster. And of course, the Capra melodrama seeps in when Bill gets caught in a rainstorm and becomes too sick to run. The always-delightful Myrna Loy plays Baxter's sister-in-law with a hopeless crush on the dreaming horseman.

Capra lays on these story elements with the utmost skill, bending our emotions at will. He gets us to thrill over a race whose outcome is only obvious and gets us to cry over a funeral. Broadway Bill lacks the total focus and dedication of Capra's greatest hits, but it's very much worth a rent.

Paramount has also released the pointless 1950 remake, Riding High, also directed by Capra. BingCrosby takes over the role of the horse trainer and the film nowincludes a couple of musical numbers, but otherwise it's almost exactlythe same, shot-for-shot. It even steals bits of footage from theoriginal film. Oliver Hardy appears in a small role, minus his sidekickStan Laurel.

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