Give Now


Nobody got shot, nothing exploded, there was no sexual activity, and just a limited amount of violence. And I was glad to see a film that didn’t feature those things for a change. Just some well-drawn characters, and the excitement of cheering on the underdog to victory. Repeatedly. The underdog this time was a horse, the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit.

Seabiscuit was a real horse, a longshot if there ever was one-a little too small to cut an imposing figure, and unmanageable to boot, he impressed neither the horse experts, nor the racing fans, until he met up with a trio of other longshots: Charles Howard who bought him, Tom Smith, who trained him, and Red Pollard, who rode him to victory. Mr. Howard (Jeff Bridges) was a millionaire auto executive who lost it all in the crash of ’29, but is convinced that this horse could be a winner. He sees it in the horse’s eyes. Tom Smith (played by Chris Cooper) was a fascinating loner, a former cowboy who had a special affinity for horses and a special ability to communicate with them. In rescuing a crippled horse from being euthanized, he says "You don’t throw a life away just ’cause he’s banged up a bit."

And then, there’s Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), abandoned as a youth by a family that could no longer afford to raise him, he’s knocked about for years as a jockey and sometime boxer. He seems unable to get along peaceably with his peers, and trainer Smith sees a similarity with him and the unruly horse named Seabiscuit.

In order to understand this horse, and these people, it’s necessary to have some understanding of the times in which they live, so the film has been framed with documentary footage, and narrated by the familiar voice of T.V. historian David McCullough. The problem, of course, is finding enough time to fit in all of the life stories, and the documentary, and still have time for us to get to know this horse a little bit. Hey, it is his story!!

Red Pollard, as it happens, is just the right jockey for Seabiscuit, and they complete the winning team. Then, things move along at a pretty rapid pace, and before you know it, Seabiscuit is the hero of the people-at least the people of the West and Mid-west. Time now for him to challenge that great horse of the east, War Admiral, and to be taken seriously by the unbelievers of Pimlico race track. But more tragedy lays ahead, and lots more learning by the handlers of this truly amazing steed.

The movie was a little less than expected for me, but still satisfying in most respects, and one that will appeal to people of many ages as a heartwarming story of three men and a horse who work together to achieve more than they ever dreamed of, and at a time in history when dashed dreams seemed to be the order of the day. Seabiscuit is now showing at the Showplace West in Bloomington, and reviewing the movies for WFIU, I’m Joe Bourne.

Peter Noble Kuchera

Originally from Columbus, Indiana, Peter moved to Bloomington in 1998. He completed four years of film study at the University of Minnesota and two years of film production in the Film Cities in St. Paul. He began reviewing movies for WFIU in 2003 and began producing on-air fundraising spots for WTIU in 2006. In 2008 he received a second place award for Best Radio Critic at the Los Angeles Press Club’s First Annual National Entertainment Journalism Awards in 2008. Peter passed away suddenly on June 8, 2009.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search Arts and Music

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Recent Movies Stories

Movies & Film Events RSS icon

More Events »Submit Your Event »

Arts & Music is on Twitter

Find Us on Facebook

This Week on Earth Eats

Perdue Farms Shifts How Its Chickens Live And Die

chickens on perches

One of the largest poultry companies in the country says it will change its slaughter methods and some of its poultry houses. Animal welfare groups cheer.

Read more »

Earth Eats is a podcast, radio program and blog of the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

More from Earth Eats »

This Week on Focus on Flowers

Vertical Accents

kniphofia flower and blue sky

There are many mounding plants, but they need to be interspersed in a garden with some vertical accents.

Read more »

Focus on Flowers is a weekly program about flower gardening hosted by master gardener Moya Andews.

More from Focus on Flowers »