| Run Time: 102 min. | b/w
Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Myrna Loy, Warner Baxter, Walter Connolly, Helen Vinson
Genres: Comedy | Drama
Another Runyonesque racetrack comedy, breezily directed by Frank Capra in his positive, wisecracking, all-American style. A wonderful cast puts this one over, including Bill!
Toronto Film Society is back in the theatre! However, we’re still pleased to continue to bring you films straight to your home! Beginning Season 73 until now we have...
In his memoirs Frank Capra gave very short shrift to Broadway Bill. In fact he only mentions it when he starts to talk about the remake of this film Riding High. The remake was in 1950 and Broadway Bill was done immediately after It Happened One Night.
In just a couple of paragraphs he mentions that he did a film called Broadway Bill sandwiched between It Happened One Night and Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. He was dissatisfied with it because the leading man, Warner Baxter, was afraid of horses and it showed. Capra then said he resolved to do the film over again with an actor who loved horses. Of course he got Bing Crosby and second to golf Crosby did love horses and horse racing. It was a perfect fit.
I didn't notice anything too terribly wrong with Baxter's performance away from the horse playing the title role. Baxter's a footloose sort of guy who's married to the daughter of millionaire Walter Connolly, Helen Vinson. Baxter's heart is at the racetrack, he loves the life and the people there. Vinson's younger sister Myrna Loy understands him though and it does take Baxter a while to figure out he married the wrong sister.
Frank Capra filled out his cast with many of the regulars who appeared in his more well known classics and they all look like they were born and bred at the racetrack. In this and in Riding High, my favorite is Raymond Walburn, the larcenous and lovable old 'Colonel' Pettigrew ready to make the ultimate sacrifice and marry 'Vinegar Puss' Margaret Hamilton.
Broadway Bill is not up there with Capra's more populistic films nor is it as good as Riding High, but it still is a wonderful heartwarming story of a horse who showed us in the higher species, the meaning of courage and heart.
Dan Brooks is tired of his dull life as the manager of a paper box manufacturing company, given to by his father in law, J.L. Higgins, a man obsessed with acquiring as many businesses and properties as he can. The only thing Dan seems to enjoy is racing his horse, Broadway Bill. When Higgins forces Dan to choose between his work or the horse, Dan continues the movie by choosing the latter, which causes his wife, Margaret, to stay behind and be disowned by the family. Dan, along with his stablehand Whitey, plans to race Broadway Bill in the $25,000 sweepstakes (and show Higgins that he wasn’t wasting his time working on Broadway Bill), but needs to come across $500 for the entry fee. Dan, Whitey, Margaret’s sister Alice (who really has a crush on Dan) and one of Dan’s old friend’s from his racetrack days, Col. Pettigrew, come up with every trick they know to get the money, while still dealing with a gambling syndicate trying to clean up on a rival horse by driving up the odds, Broadway Bill suffering from a cold, and Dan locked up for failing to pay the stable & feed bill. Very good film, but lacks the magic Capra had with his other films (It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, etc.) Baxter is good as Dan, but just doesn’t seem right for the hopeful characteristics needed. Loy is a delight as Alice/Princess, Connelly repeats the same role he played in It Happened One Night, & Muse, Walburn, & Overman lend fine support as Whitey, the Colonel, and Happy respectively. Good script, using nice humorous touches, and a touching ending. Rating, 8.
"Broadway Bill" is one of Frank Capra’s lesser known gems. Made in 1934 and starring Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy, it is the story of a man who is willing to walk away from a life of wealth to follow his dream. In many ways it is the typical Capra film.
Adapted from a story by Mark Hellinger, "Broadway Bill" has all of the feel and characters one might expect from a Damon Runyon tale.
Baxter as the owner of Broadway Bill and Loy as his sister-in-law, who is also in love with him are first rate. As are Walter Connolly, Clarence Muse, and especially Raymond Walburn, who walks off with the best role.
Dated and a little sappy, but full of good cheer from start to finish.
"Broadway Bill" is a good bet.
8 out of 10
Extremely heart-warming depression era movie by director Frank Capra about a big-hearted race-horse who ran his heart out to the point that it burst leaving those who believed and loved him, in the audience as well as those in the movie, in tears: Broadway Bill.
Marrying into money Dan Brooks, Warren Baxter, just couldn't take being big business tycoon J.L Higgins' son-in-law anymore and left him as well as his wife Margaret, Helen Vinson, to go back to his life on the racetrack with his horse Broadway Bill and his horses groom Whitey, Clarence Muse. Dan got Broadway Bill into a number of low purse money races at the local Imperial Racetrack to get the horse, if he won them, into the big race at the track The Imperial Derby against Kentucky Derby favorite Gallant Lady.
With that wonderful Frank Capra spirit the movie is about the little man standing up to the powerful establishment and with both his hopes and dreams prevail against the establishments money and power in the end. Warren Baxter and Myrna Loy were both wonderful as Broadway Bill's owner trainer and Dan's sister-in-law Alice who, unlike her older sister Margaret, saw the good that Dan had inside of him. A goodness that was reflected on Dan's caring and feeling for the horse and for the people who, unlike Alice's father, had to live day by day with no hope for the future but for their next meal and a place with a roof over their heads to sleep overnight.
Everything was stacked against Broadway Bill in the movie but like the champ that he was he overcame all of them and ended the film with a heart-stopping as well as heart-breaking finish on the racetrack. Re-made 16 years later in 1950 with Bing Crosby in the movie "Riding High" which even has a number of scenes from the movie " Broadway Bill" inserted into it but the original is still by far the best of the two and the one to watch.
Noble and uplifting with Frank Capra using the betting at the racetrack to make a point about the conditions in the country at that time, 1934. With most of those betting on Broadway Bill being down on their luck and looking for the gallant and courageous equine to give them back the hopes and dreams that they lost because of the Great depression that hit America as well as the world after the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929. Tremendous final race sequence with a both heart-lifting as well as heart-breaking stretch run that will leave you totally speechless as well as reaching for your handkerchief.
Incredibly up-lifting ending that only Frank Capra could have dreamed up with Dan's hopes and dreams as well as Broadway Bill's courage and determination making even Dan's father-in-law the greedy and unfeeling J.L Higgins finally see the light in that being a kind and giving human being was worth more that all the wealth that he had."Broadway Bill" has everything going for it: a great story with great acting and directing and last but not least a great star Broadway Bill.