25 June 2007 | ROCKY-19
George plays the horses
A struggling bookie calls in his last chance, an IOU for half-interest in a 2-year-old thoroughbred. The other half, of course, is owned by the title character, who fights his overly ambitious plans for the colt while quickly falling for his disarming ways. The only real reason to watch "The Lady's From Kentucky" is George Raft. He had about three screen personas in his career, most famously the soft-talking gangster, but this peppy part is the real Raft. He's completely in his element among the gambling joints and horse players. His blithe comfort makes this frivolous romantic comedy an easy watch. Unfortunately, Raft (and the horses) upstage everyone else, at least the white folks. Ellen Drew leaves little impression at all (except amateur emoting in a couple of scenes). Hugh Herbert becomes tiresome, and ZaSu Pitts is instantly and constantly annoying. The horses show far more engaging personalities. In fact, Raft's relationship with the colt is more endearing than the forced romance. There's more humor in personality than in the set-up comedy of the movie, and that can be chalked up to Raft -- whether giving blood for money, crawling under a house after a piglet or cozying up submissively to an old groom. There is little in common here with the running of a real horse farm, but that's business, and business does not fit Hollywood plots. Director Alexander Hall shoots all of the horse scenes well, and the races get brief, zippy coverage. But guaranteed you'll get sick of hearing "Camp Town Races" in almost every scene.