If any racetrack picture ever had a chance to beat the no-femme-draw bugaboo, Broadway Bill is the picture. It has a story, a tiptop cast – and Frank Capra’s direction.
Capra has a fine pair of leads in Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy, and then he has a yarn [by Broadway newspaperman Mark Hellinger] in which the tempo appears to have been especially suited to his directorial talents. The rest was up to Capra, and the rest is very much okay.
The training routine, the betting machinery, the track atmosphere, the gimmicks, the muscle boys, the game’s intrigue – all these things have been truly captured and charmingly presented this time.
The troubles and jams of Dan Brooks (Baxter) as hopeful owner of a stout-hearted horse, Broadway Bill, supply the action. Brooks is broke, with the entry fee unpaid and the big race a few days off. The horse gets sick, then recovers. The horse is attached for the feed bill. Brooks is jailed for fighting the sheriff. He’s released just in time. The jockey is fixed by gamblers. Etcetera.
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Behind the alternately humorous and sad racetrack stuff, there is an underlying romance that ties the incidentals together. The fascinating attachment of Brooks for his sister-in-law (Loy) develops after Brooks has rebelled against and walked out on his refrigeratress-wife and dominating father-in-law (Walter Connolly). Raymond Walburn is aces in the finely drawn role of a con man who touts so well he believes it himself.