Loretta Young, Richard Greene and Walter Brennan star in "Kentucky," a 1938 film about a longstanding dispute between two families, horses and the Kentucky Derby. Well directed by David Butler, the film was made in beautiful color.
The film begins during the Civil War, when young Peter watches as the Yankees take the thoroughbred horses from the Goodwin farm and kill his father when he tries to stop them. He never forgets that the Yankee Dillon family is responsible and 75 years later (as Walter Brennan) still hasn't forgiven them. Now in his 80s, he lives with his son, his wife and daughter on the farm where they train and breed thoroughbreds. The farm is in trouble, and when his son can't get a loan from the bank (presided over by his Dillon contemporary), he dies, leaving Sally (Young) his heir. Everything is sold off except for one horse, which is ruined for racing one night when Sally has to ride in the rain to get a doctor for her mother - the road is blocked by a tree so she can't drive. However, due to a bet Dillon and Goodwin made, Dillon has written a note offering any two-year old on his farm to Goodwin. Sally claims the horse for her father, a horse chosen by Uncle Peter. The younger Dillon (Greene), angry with his family, gives Sally a false name and offers to train the horse for her. The two fall in love.
Were it not for World War II, Richard Greene today might be on the list of stars of the classic era. He was getting the star buildup by 20th Century Fox and would have been a rival for Tyrone Power, but when war broke out in England, he returned to serve his country, losing all his career momentum. With his wavy black hair, widow's peak and dazzling smile, the handsome Greene resembles Robert Taylor in this film and is a good pairing with the beautiful Loretta Young. The great performance comes from Walter Brennan. Someone posted that he was 38 playing a man in his 60s. No, he wasn't. The film clearly states that it's 75 years since the Civil War, making Uncle Peter, who was about 10 when the soldiers arrived, nearer to 85. Brennan pulls it off. He won an Oscar for his performance. The film boasts some exciting racing scenes as well as a good story.
Brennan gives a great performance, and the romantic stars are attractive, but the true stars of "Kentucky" are the most magnificent horses you've ever seen. Although the trivia section of IMDb doesn't state it, those horses must have come from some thoroughbred farm. It's not only horses, but beautiful foals and colts. If you like horses, this movie is a no-miss. The animals are jaw-dropping, even better looking than Richard Greene and Loretta Young.
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