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  • Left insolvent in America by the death of his grandfather, a young English lad learns that THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY. Now it's time for his new buddies, an irrepressible girl & an excitable jockey, to help him make his race horse a winner.

    This little film, with a horse race plot both contrived & convoluted, is mere entertainment fluff. Its real significance is that it was the first movie to co-star Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland. Rooney is hyper-energetic & Garland exhibits her wide-eyed exuberance; together they hint at much better films to come in the future. Ronald Sinclair receives equal billing with them, and he does a good job with his role, but up against the Dynamic Duo he never really stood a chance. His celebrity would prove to be rather transitory.

    Forrester Harvey does fine in a small performance as a jolly horse trainer. Wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith lends a touch of class to his role as an English gentleman. But it is the inimitable Sophie Tucker who steals the film as Garland's mother, a big sharp-tongued woman you wouldn't want to trifle with. For some unfathomable reason, the script gives her no chance to sing. Unbelievable! At the very least, a Tucker/Garland duet could have made the film truly memorable.

    Movie mavens will recognize Lionel Belmore as a butler & Elisha Cook, Jr. as a jockey, both unbilled.

    A `pookah', by the way, is an Irish ghost horse.
  • The first film to feature Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland came up short in the music department as there was only one song written for the film Got A Brand New Pair Of Shoes and it was Judy's. I've a feeling that a lot might have been left on the cutting room floor because Sophie Tucker was also in this film as Judy's grandmother and she sung not a note.

    Thoroughbreds Don't Cry features Mickey as a jockey famous for his daring come from behind wins in the stretch and Judy the granddaughter of Sophie Tucker who runs a jockey's boardinghouse where Mickey resides. Into their lives comes C. Aubrey Smith and his young grandson Ronald Sinclair who are titled, but cash poor with only one asset, a prize winning stakes horse called The Pooka. Yes, I do believe it is named for that spirit who manifested himself as a six foot white rabbit in Harvey.

    Mickey's the best there is at his profession, but he's fatally compromised because of a no-good gambler of a father in Charles D. Brown who pretends he's on death's door. That's to extort a pledge from Mickey to throw the race The Pooka is running in. Mickey does it and finds out he's been framed. He's put everybody in a jackpot because of this and there is one death that results from it.

    Ronald Sinclair substitutes nicely for Freddie Bartholomew who this role was originally intended. But the chemistry with Mickey and Judy was readily apparent and MGM would team them several more times until Words And Music in 1948 which was Mickey's last film for MGM.

    But I like more singing and dancing when I see Mickey and Judy and I think more was originally intended. Just the mere fact that Sophie Tucker was in the film leads me to believe she must have had a number that ended up on the cutting room floor. Perhaps one day we'll see a director's cut.

    The racing sequences at Santa Anita were handled well, the track was only a few years old at the time and the movie land crowd were frequent visitors and owners of race horses out there. I've seen newsreel footage of Mickey Rooney enjoying the sport of kings there when he was not on a shooting schedule.

    Thoroughbreds Don't Cry is a good start for a most auspicious star team, but a whole lot better was to come.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mickey Rooney was already a seasoned performer when he starred in this film about a young English friend and his horse. Rooney plays an egotistical jockey with all the cockiness and fireball energy of a young James Cagney. Ronald Sinclair, the child actor who later worked behind the scenes, is the young English chap. However, the irrepressible Rooney easily outshines the young Sinclair. The film also features a young girl by the name of Judy Garland. Judy repeats a similar role she had in The Broadway Melody of 1938 as the young charge of boardinghouse mama, Sophie Tucker. The blustery Tucker, who surprisingly does not sing in the film, easily steals every scene she is in. It's always good to see old stalwart C. Aubrey Smith add an air of dignity to the proceedings. Mickey and Judy are foes as well as friends in their debut film together. Judy sings a little, but the film is not a musical. It's almost as if MGM was giving the juvenile star movie format a trial run here. It's pretty much a predictable, formulaic movie, but, as is frequently the case with movies from the 30's, 40's, and 50's, the stars make it entertaining by their sheer presence and energy. **1/2 of 4 stars.
  • Young English boy (Ronald Sinclair) wants a jockey (Mickey Rooney) to ride his horse in an upcoming race. But the jockey's an arrogant jerk who doesn't want anything to do with the kid. Enter cutie Judy Garland, the niece of Rooney's landlady. She befriends Sinclair and gets Rooney to agree to ride his horse. Things are complicated when Mickey's crooked dad asks him to throw the race.

    A rather pedestrian plot sparked some by the delightful Judy and energetic Mickey. This was the very first movie Mickey and Judy Garland did together. Nice support from C. Aubrey Smith and Sophie Tucker, who sadly does not sing. A watchable flick but nothing special.
  • When Mickey Rooney died last month, I got a jones to watch some of his movies so when I went to the library, and this was among the films there, I had to get it especially since I knew this was the first one he made with Judy Garland. He plays a jockey and Ms. Garland plays the niece of the owner of the boardinghouse for jockeys. But the main character is played by Ronald Sinclair, another teen who's from England (actually Sinclair was from New Zealand), who has a horse he wants to enter into the America's Cup race. I'll stop there and just say it was quite fascinating watching Rooney and Garland bicker and also helping Sinclair in his troubles. Ms. Garland had one song she performed a few times in the movie. Her character dreams of stardom which, of course, is what happened to Judy in real life. Legendary singer Sophie Tucker plays her aunt but she doesn't have a number for some reason. All in all, Thoroughbreds Don't Cry was quite an entertaining programmer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A year after playing a jockey over at Warner Brothers in "Down the Stretch", his home studio of MGM cast him in a similar role where he shamelessly overacts. The story actually focuses on a young British boy (Ronald Sinclair) who wants Rooney to ride his horse in an upcoming race, and top-bills Judy Garland as a "Little Miss Fix It" who is at first a thorn in their side but ends up being their biggest champion. Rooney is manipulated by his con-man father into throwing a race which, like in "Down the Stretch", gets him banished as a jockey. Sinclair takes over as jockey on his own horse after his beloved grandfather (the always lovable C. Aubrey Smith) passes away and leaves only the horse to him. Of course, in typical MGM fashion, everything is resolved in the nick of time.

    People will mainly watch this to see the 15 year old Judy Garland who was rising as a young radio star who had made a couple of films and was yet two years away from film immortality as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz". Judy, of course, has more talent in her little finger than MGM had stars, so she is deserving of being the legend she is today. She especially shines while singing, and her song, "Gotta Pair of New Shoes", is right for her talents, although it appears in the film four times. The best performance of it is when she interrupts Mickey massaging the wounded Sinclair. It is comical to watch Rooney continuously pull down Sinclair's pants every time Judy tries to get into the room. This is an unintentional bit of humor that censors probably didn't catch, as is another scene with Rooney and Sinclair riding the same horse. Judy also is amusing in a scene where she "emotes" for her new pal, Sinclair.

    As for the wonderful Sophie Tucker, it's great to see her in one of her few screen roles, and she works well with Judy. She has many funny lines, but her character is never fully developed. Her retort to an usher in a private box at the race track is priceless. The first half of the film is comical, while the second half is strictly dramatic. The scene where Judy searches through a crowded city for Rooney just seems absurd, but it's obvious that when Judy has her mind made up, she will accomplish what she has set out to do. Her fans will adore this movie to see her develop her screen style, but as a typical MGM programmer, it is simply passable. Rooney did better acting in "Down the Stretch", but Sinclair is very good. As a screen team, Mickey and Judy really didn't pick up steam until their follow-up picture, "Love Finds Andy Hardy", so this must count as their weakest teaming.
  • Judy Garland's first film with Mickey Rooney concerns Ronald Sinclair and his grandfather C. Aubrey Smith who came from England to have their horse, Pooka, run for the American Cup. Mickey is a jockey, who is considered one of the best and who knows it. They try to get him to ride their horse into victory, because they need the money badly. Judy Garland and her aunt Sophie Tucker board the jockeys in a boarding house. What may seem as uninteresting is really brought to life naturally by good acting by all considered, especially Mickey Rooney and Sophie Tucker. And, Judy Garland of course is on hand to sing with gusto. This may seem to be a relatively unimportant little film, but I was pleasantly surprised to see just how entertaining and funny this film is. One gag has Mickey trying to apply ointment to Ronald's leg, after Mickey had been teaching Ronald how to ride a horse. And while Mickey is rubbing his legs, Judy bursts into song and is interrupting them. Ronald pulls up his pants, when Judy tries to enter the room, while Mickey keep pulling them off him. Why do I mention this part? It's funny and surprisingly risqué for a 1937 film. So sit back and enjoy a forgotten film of Mickey and Judy's that may be somewhat predictable, but is still a enjoyable ride to the finishing line.
  • Mickey Rooney truly shines in this film. Outshining top billed Judy Garland. If you are a fan of Mickey and Judy you will love this movie. And of course, if you love horses you will be thrilled. Mickey Rooney playes a tough Jockey who can really win those races. That is until his father pretends to be sicks and tricks Mickey into throwing a race. His father will make you angry throughout the entire film. Mickey Rooney will break your heart and Judy will bring joy as she sings Got A Pair Of New Shoes. Mickey Rooney, in my opinion, is probably the most talented actor to ever live. This is a very enjoyable film to watch and is highly recommended. Catch it on TCM the next time it's aired. You'll love it!
  • In a role obviously intended for an absent Freddie Bartholomew, British teenager Ronald Sinclair (as Roger Calverton) arrives in the United States with his grandfather's potentially prize-winning horse "Pookah". At the race-track, young Sinclair admires brash jockey Mickey Rooney (as Timmie Donovan) and wants him to ride "The Pookah" to victory. Sinclair meets perky Judy Garland (as Cricket West) at Mr. Rooney's boarding house, which is run by her assertive aunt Sophie Tucker...

    Rooney is typically commanding and Sinclair is a good stand-in for Bartholomew. Accurately predicting she will be a successful singer and actress, Ms. Garland shines in support. Of the other jockeys, tough Frankie Darro (as "Dink" Reid) stands out; he will try to beat Sinclair in the climactic big race. The ending suggests the three leads, plus Ms. Tucker and funny Forrester Harvey (as Wilkins) were on their way to a potential series. The title "Goin' to Town" would have fit nicely...

    The most interesting scene has Rooney ardently massaging Sinclair's upper thighs while Garland, outside the bedroom, sings about "Goin' to Town". If director Alfred E. Green asked Rooney to try and avoid Sinclair's buttocks, the advice was ignored. Also, Rooney repeatedly pulls down Sinclair's pants and throws him on his bed. This comes after an unintentionally sexual scene with Rooney teaching Sinclair how to ride a horse. Today, this sort of horseplay is interpreted differently.

    ****** Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (11/25/37) Alfred E. Green ~ Ronald Sinclair, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker
  • kidboots8 April 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    I don't suppose MGM thought this was going to be such a memorable movie. Mickey Rooney was not yet a top star - he was still stealing movies from other stars, ie "Little Lord Fautleroy", "Captain's Courageous", "A Mid Summer Night's Dream". Judy Garland had her voice but MGM still didn't know what to do with her (she was still "Just an In-Between"). The other young actor in the cast was Ronald Sinclair, a Freddie Bartholomew clone (Bartholomew, I suspect was at one of his court appearances and Sinclair was substituted).

    But when Mickey and Judy came together something special happened. The confrontation, when Mickey has decked the snotty little English kid and Judy dares him to sock her as well and then gives him a piece of her mind.

    Roger and his grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith) arrive in America to race their horse "The Pookha" in the cup. At the track they see Timmy Donovan (Mickey Rooney) - "the best jockey on the track - but a swellhead" - and convince him to ride their horse.

    In the meantime Timmy's father has sent for him, claiming to be dying, and to get him to throw a race so they can collect $5,000 and buy an iron lung. Timmy does throw the race and discovers his father is not sick and is up to his old crooked tricks.

    He gets another chance to ride the horse in the big cup but because he has been found out over throwing the race, he is barred from the track. Roger then rides "The Pookha" to victory.

    Sophie Tucker is wonderful with her glib come-backs and one-liners - she plays Aunt Edie.

    Frankie Darro (who seemed to spend his time in films playing jockeys and fighters) plays "Dink" the crooked jockey. Elisha Cook Jnr, also has a role (uncredited) as a jockey, "Boots" MacGuire, sitting around the boarding house dinner table.

    Henry Kolker, a great film "heavy" plays "Doc" Godfrey.

    Judy is just wonderful as Cricket West - her first big role. She is such a natural, very bubbly and full of fun and also gets to sing a very catchy tune "Gotta Pair of New Shoes" that really shows off her beautiful voice.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (There are Spoilers) Even though the movie "Thoroghbreds Don't Cry" is the first of many films pairing Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland as the most popular and admired teenagers on the silver screen in the late 1930's and 40's. The film instead comes across as being an early buddy-buddy like film about two at first combative then best of friends teenage boys horse-racing jockey Timmie Donovan, Mickey Rooney, and British blue-blood and all around nice kid Roger Calverton, Ronald Sinclair. Judy Garland is more or less overlooked by the two boys and almost everyone else in the cast in the small role as the sweet singing and piano playing Cricket West.

    The movie itself is a somewhat run of the mill story about a brash young man jockey Timmie Donovan who after he gets into a fight with the very proper and refined Roger Calverton, over his table manors, soon get's to become Rogers best friend. Timmie agrees to ride Roger's prized racehorse The Pookah in the biggest and richest race in California the California Cup. With young Roger's grandfather Sir. Peter Calverton, C. Aubrey Smith, and co-owner of The Pookah going along it's decided by Timmie that the horse needs a tune-up race before the Cup. It's than decided to run him in Ridgemore Handicap which The Pookah is expected to be an odds-on favorite.

    With both Timmie and The Pookah razor sharp for the Ridgemore the young jockey is summoned to his fathers Click, Charles D. Brown, bedside where he's told by the old man that he's dying from a very serious heart condition. Click gives the concerned Timmie this whole line of horse-sh*t about needing something like $5,000.00 so that he can have an iron-lung that would save his life. Click as well as his doctor "Doc" Godfrey, Henry Koker, tell Timmie that the only way he can get that kind of money is if he'll throw the race that he's to ride The Pookah in.

    Timmie who's as honest as the day, that's June 22 the beginning of summer, is long at first refuses to give into his dad's desperate plea but being the tender on the inside and tough on the outside guy that he is finally agrees to throw the race just to save his poor and sick father's life. It turns out that there's nothing at all wrong with the old man but that he and his gang of crooked gamblers, including "Doc", are planning to bet heavily against The Pookah and make a killing at the expense of Timmie's career as a professional horse-racing jockey.

    Not letting The Pookah, who has a terrific closing kick, run in the Ridgemore Timmie loses the race and just after the horse crosses the finish-line finishing out of the money Old Man Calverton,shocked by the Pookah's loss, collapses in his private box of a heart-attack. At the hospital Timmie is told by the head nurse that the old guy didn't make it. Timmie get's so depressed over what he did that he becomes a homeless hobo sleeping on a bench in the park and asking for handouts so he can get himself a bite to eat.

    The ending is a bit unpredictable since you would think that Timmie in an effort to vindicate himself would ride The Pookah to victory in the California Cup. Instead Timmie is drummed out of his profession as a jockey by admitting to the race track official's, after his lousy and two-timing dad tipped them off, that he threw the previous race that he rode The Pookah in. Timmie in a round about way still does the right thing by getting, or stealing, the $1,000.00 entrance fee from his cheating dad to have The Pookah run in the big race. Since his friend Roger was not only broke but about to sell the horse to non-other then "Doc" who together with Timmie's sleazy father were planning to run the horse into the ground. Making as much money that they can off him until they finally, when The Pookah is an old and broken down nag, sell him to the glue factory.

    With him being suspended and not able to ride The Pookah Timmie has Roger take the mount and with him giving his friend instructions on what to do in the race, while hiding in a tree overlooking the race-track, Rogers and The Pookah end up winning it in a heart stopping stretch run ending to the movie. 15 year-old Judy Garland who even though had a secondary role in the movie did receive top billing together with stars Mickey Rooney and Ronald Siclair and also sang the movie's title song "Gotta A Pair of New Shoes".
  • Poor Freddie Bartholomew. Yes, he was given some wonderful, indelible roles during his youth, but he was prevented from getting more parts when he was in his prime because his aunt had contract disputes with the studio. He was supposed to be in Thoroughbreds Don't Cry with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, but because of one of the disputes, he was replaced by Ronald Sinclair. Little Ronald did an excellent job, and he gave so fine a Freddie Bartholomew impersonation, that if you close your eyes, you can almost pretend the original choice did make it in the movie!

    This really isn't that great a movie, though, so perhaps Freddie didn't miss out too much. Poor Ronald didn't take his place in audiences' hearts, even though there was nothing wrong with his looks or talent, and he only made a few more movies after this one before turning to the backstage side of Hollywood. The plot of the movie is an obvious follow-up to The Devil Is a Sissy, where a young British boy comes to America and tries to fit in and learn American slang and customs. Ronald comes to this country with his grandfather, C. Aubrey Smith-who would have once again been reunited with Freddie after Little Lord Fauntleroy-and his family's racehorse. Mickey Rooney is a hothead jockey they both woo into riding their horse in the next race, and Judy Garland is a nondescript girl with very little character development who spends far more time than is funny making fun of Ronald's accent and way of talking. Unless you really love Mickey and Judy, you might want to pick out a different horseracing movie. It doesn't stand the test of time very well, and the storyline is pretty thin and predictable.
  • The casting in this film is rather unusual. While Freddie Bartholomew was apparently supposed to be in the movie, he was either in a contract dispute or in seclusion until his voice changed (according to Judy Garland)...and the studio tried to find a Bartholomew-like actor to take his place. That is why Ronald Sinclair (a New Zealander) was chosen to appear in this film...one of only a small number of films in which he acted. Interestingly, Sinclair has quite a few Hollywood credits--most of them as an Editor!

    "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry" is monumental because it is the first pairing of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. They'd go on to make many more films together...and this being the first might explain why Rooney does NOT play a typical sort of part for a Garland-Rooney film. Instead of the usual likable guy, he's a fat-head jockey--one that definitely needs to be taken down a peg or two. As for Garland, she 's a nice girl who likes to find excuses to sing...and so her role is very typical of their later films.

    When the movie begins, Sir Peter Calverton is preparing to take his prize horse, the Pookah, to America for some big race. No, this IS a horse and it's NOT invisible...despite the name for the creature being the same as Harvey in the famous Jimmy Stewart film! His grandson, Roger (Sinclair) accompanies him and eventually makes friends with Timmie (Rooney) and Cricket (Garland). But alas, things do NOT go swimmingly--and I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the plot. Suffice to say that Timmie and Cricket need to work together to help poor Roger and his horse.

    Overall, this is a very entertaining film--one that would probably appeal more to kids but still have appeal to all ages. It has all the typical MGM polish and the story well worth seeing. I particularly liked that there wasn't that much singing and no dancing...unlike many of the other Garland- Rooney films. I know some folks like the singing and dancing, but to me it often got in the way of the story...and that's why the story here is stronger than I expected.

    By the way, there is a hospital scene where Timmie talks to the receptionist. This lady is none other than Marie Blake ('Blossom Rock' from "The Addams Family")....who also played the hospital receptionist in the Dr. Kildaire films (also from MGM).
  • A rum affair. Always noted as Judy's first teaming with Mickey Rooney, but her love interest is Ronald Sinclair, and the plot is more interested in the boys', ahem, friendship. I am bored by constant readings of old movies as coded gay, but you can't ignore the scenes when the boy owner and his jockey move together on horseback, or a protracted episode of Timmie massaging Roger's legs and trying to keep Cricket out of the room. As a jockey Timmie specialises in 'coming from behind'.

    Another mystery concerns casting. MGM's first thought was to reunite their British boy wonder, Freddie Bartholomew, with C. Aubrey Smith, reprising the grandfather-grandson relationship of 'Little Lord Fauntleroy'. Barthlomew reportedly dropped out due to a contract fight; yet he stars in the trailer introducing Sinclair, falsely, as an old pal. Judy wrote that he had been dropped when his voice broke.

    Sinclair was a New Zealander and not quite as veddy veddy British as most kids from over the water in pre-war Hollywood. Though obliged to wear short pants in most scenes, he does okay in the puppy-love passages with Judy, but soon faded as an actor, transforming into the editor of Roger Corman's horror films.

    Rooney, already in the Jolson class for self-confidence, breezes through the plot's twists (one of them, involving his crooked dad, is ingenious) and displays his gift for emoting without seeming soppy. The great C. Aubrey is only in the first half but scores in contriving to make Timmie hitch a ride on The Pookah. Did Cricket get her unusual monicker as a play on the ball game Smith and the English Colony brought to California?

    Judy's role is undercooked: her showbiz ambitions remain unfulfilled and her main task is to feed Sophie Tucker, repeating their double act in 'Broadway Melody of 1938'. Again Tucker is cast as a den mother: she does some sleuthing but no singing. Judy's only song, delivered while barred from the massage, is 'Got a Pair of New Shoes'. This was later picked up by Eleanor Powell, star of 'BM38', for her cabaret tap dancing; also Smith and Tucker reappeared in Powell's last vehicle, 'Sensations of 1945'.

    A poignant note: uncredited as one of the track stewards is Francis X. Bushman, the rival of Ramon Novarro in 'Ben Hur', MGM's biggest silent picture. From chariot race to horse race in 12 years: a long way down.

    In nine subsequent movies Garland and Rooney would cement their status as America's prototypical teenagers- but not yet in this jolly little programmer.
  • Not quite up to snuff with Judy's upcoming films, but she's still very good actress as a young girl living in a boarding house with horse jockeys. The main character in this film is actually Ronald Sinclair's as an English boy who has sailed ship to America with his family and his horse, Pooka. Ronald first sees Mickey at the race tracks and immediately admires him for his excellent racing abilities. He then goes over to the boarding house where Mickey and the other jockies and Judy stay. At first, Mickey and the other jockies really don't like him, ridicule him, and Mickey punches him in the eye. He only ends up trying to straighten out his attitude towards Ronald, with Judy's persuance, due to Ronald's grandfather giving Mickey his prized horse stick. They start to become friends. Ronald really wants Mickey to ride Pooka in his next race. I won't say any more so not to spoil the plot. But there is tragedy in this film, some quirky moments, Judy starts to fall for Ronald. One scene with Judy talking to a negro stable worker may be taken as her talking to him in a rude and racist way, but he is also rude and unhelpful to her right from the start. But she still shouldn't have called him "boy". There is one very embarrassing scene, actually two. A very suggestive vision when Mickey and Ronald are riding the horse together, which I found quite disturbing and not funny. It just didn't fit in with the family style type of film this was. Judy showed some more of her brilliance in this film with her singing "Got a pair of new shoes". That I liked because Judy's great in all of her films with her wonderful acting and singing from the late 1930s all the way through to 1950.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland don't especially dance here at all, and Judy only belts out one or 2 songs in this sort of entertaining 1937 film.

    As Judy's aunt here, Sophie Tucker, is way out of her league. This is the type of part that went to the usually reliable Jesse Ralph of the period. Tucker is somewhat subdued and in the racing scene, she is so nonchalant, she looks like she needs a chair to converse with the other women in front of her apartment building.

    The premise here is a good one. C. Aubrey Smith and his grandson come to America to race their horse. They meet up with Mickey Rooney, a tough-minded jockey, who lives in the boarding house for jockeys run by Tucker and "niece" Judy Garland. Through chicanery, Rooney's crooked father gets him to throw a race. To make matters worse, Aubrey is felled by a fatal coronary while viewing the race.

    Rooney agrees to race the horse again at a bigger race, but his father gets him thrown out for throwing the previous race. The grandson steps in to race the horse and we're all happy about as the characters sing along in a trailer at film's end.

    This is rather bland fanfare with a good story line.