AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Big Boy
Director: Alan Crosland (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Sep 1930
Duration (in mins):   68
Duration (in feet):   6,275
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Al Jolson (Gus)  
    Claudia Dell (Annabel)  
    Louise Closser Hale (Mrs. Bedford)  
    Lloyd Hughes (Jack)  
    Eddie Phillips (Coley Reed)  
    Lew Harvey (Doc Wilbur)  
    Franklin Batie (Jim)  
    John Harron (Joe)  
    Tom Wilson (Tucker)  
    Carl White (Song director)  
    Colin Campbell (Steve Leslie)  
    Noah Beery (Bagley)  
    The Monroe Singers    

Summary: Hoping to recoup the family fortune, the Bedfords stake their hopes on Big Boy, a horse trained for the Kentucky Derby by the ever-singing Gus, their faithful black jockey. Shortly before the race, Jack and Annabel return from eastern schools, bringing with them Coley Reid, his confidant Doc Wilbur, and Steve Leslie, an English jockey. Reid persuades Jack to urge Mrs. Bedford to entrust the race to Steve, but she declines, saying Gus has served the family for generations and telling them a story (incorporated in the film and providing the opportunity for the singing of Negro spirituals) of how Gus's grandfather saved Annabel's grandmother from kidnappers in 1870. Threatening Jack with a forged check, Reid forces him to have Gus break training rules, and the trainer is dismissed. Joe becomes suspicious and learns that Dolly, Reid's wife, is plotting against Annabel, of whom she is jealous, and that Steve plans to "throw" the race. Gus then appears, outsmarts the crooks, and wins the race. Jolson appears without blackface at the end of the film to sing "Tomorrow Is Another Day." 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Alan Crosland (Dir)
Writer: William K. Wells (Scr and dial)
  Perry Vekroff (Scr and dial)
  Rex Taylor (Scr and dial)
Photography: Hal Mohr (Dir of photog)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Sound: Hal Bumbaugh (Rec eng)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "What Will I Do Without You?" music by Joe Burke, lyrics by Al Subin; "Liza Lee" and "Tomorrow Is Another Day," by Bud Green and Sammy Stept; "Down South," music by William H. Myddleton, lyrics by Sigmund Spaeth; "The Handicap March," by Dave Reed, Jr. and George Rosey.
Composer: Sammy Stept
  Joe Burke
  Al Dubin
  Bud Green
  William H. Myddleton
  Dave Reed Jr.
  George Rosey
  Sigmund Spaeth
Source Text: Based on the play Big Boy by Harold Atteridge (New York, 7 Jan 1925).
Authors: Harold Atteridge

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 5/8/1930 dd/mm/yyyy LP1465

Physical Properties: Sd: Vitaphone

Genre: Comedy-drama
Subjects (Major): African Americans
  Forgers and forgery
  Horse trainers
  Kentucky Derby
  Motion pictures

Note: Al Jolson had starred in the original Broadway production of the play. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
EHW   20 Sep 1930   p. 40.
Film Daily   14 Sep 1930   p. 12.
New York Times   13 Sep 30   p. 9.
Variety   17 Sep 30   p. 21.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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