AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: David Butler (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Jan 1956
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Lexington, KY: 11 Jan 1956
Production Date:   6 Jul--early Aug 1955
Duration (in mins):   99
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Cast:   Margaret O'Brien (Clarabel Tilbee)  
    Walter Brennan (Ned Otis)  
    Charlotte Greenwood (Agnes Tilbee)  
    John Lupton (Chad Chadburn)  
    Byron Palmer (Hoppy Hollis)  
    Lisa Davis (Candy Trent)  
    Gus Schilling (Joe Page)  
    Hugh Sanders (Sobbing Sam Cooney)  
    Walter Baldwin (Doc Brock)  
    Harry Tyler (Beed Wickwire)  
    Leonid Kinskey (Vasily)  
    Paul E. Burns (Squeaky Bob)  
    Theron Jackson (Alexander)  
    Gene White (Willie, Glory's jockey)  
    Swaps (Glory, a horse)  
    Madge Blake (Chad's Aunt Martha)  
    Syd Saylor (Feed store bill collector)  
    William Schallert (English dinner guest)  
    Mauritz Hugo (Policeman)  

Summary: In Kentucky, Agnes Tilbee’s Fairwood Farms horse breeding operation has been reduced to a single trailer in which she lives with her teenaged granddaughter Clarabel. They have high hopes for their newest foal, but Agnes is disappointed to learn that the horse is a filly. Although a female horse has won the Kentucky Derby only once, Clarabel falls in love with the horse, which she names Glory, and plans to groom her to win the big race. Over the next months, Agnes and former trainer Ned Otis continue to feud over who is to blame for failing to enter a horse in a derby years earlier, while Clarabel boards Glory at the neighboring stable owned by Chad Chadburn. Chad, who is surprised at how lovely Clarabel has become, prefers her passion for horses to his wealthy society friends’s disdain for his love of the stables. Six weeks later, Agnes sets out on the annual race tour with Clarabel, trainer Joe Page, and groom Alexander. Before they leave, Chad’s girl friend, Candy Trent, scares the horses with her loud sports car, earning a scolding from Clarabel. At the first stop, they are joined by Ned, whom a rival owner, Grist, has hired to train his horse. Agnes dismisses him rudely, but when Ned overhears that she is having trouble paying her $50 feed bill, he presents Clarabel with a “birthday gift” of $50. Later, Clarabel learns that Agnes has put Glory up for auction in order to raise money for the farm and, horrified, races to put a stop to the sale. She interrupts the auction and is about to be thrown out when Chad and veterinarian Doc Brock come to her aid. As Chad breaks Glory with his own horses, Clarabel delights in the filly’s speed and agility. With Fairwood Farms in desperate financial straights, Clarabel eagerly enters Glory into races, but the horse is not ready and repeatedly loses. After Agnes informs Clarabel that they cannot keep Glory, Ned offers to buy her, which prompts Agnes to decide that Glory must be worthwhile. Soon after, Chad invites Clarabel for a drive, and when Agnes sees her put on her best dress, warns her that the newspapers have announced Chad’s engagement to Candy. During their ride, however, Chad assures her that the newspaper account is untrue. The next day, Chad invites Clarabel and Agnes to watch the race from his box seats, and shares their joy when Glory wins. Clarabel drops Glory off to get shod, but the horse soon disappears, and Agnes assumes that Ned has stolen her. She has merely wandered off, however, and soon shows up back at the farm with an injured foreleg. Months later, Glory is still lame, and Agnes can no longer afford to keep her. Certain that Glory is a champion, Clarabel enters her in the Kentucky Derby, despite the fact that she cannot raise the entrance fee. Chad invites them to dinner, where he reveals that he is going to visit Candy in California. When Candy returns to Kentucky, she flaunts a diamond ring and warns Clarabel to “run in her own class.” Clarabel finds solace in singing to Glory, and when singer Hoppy Hollis wanders in to check out his new horse, he is entranced by Clarabel’s pretty voice. He insists that she join him in his nightclub act, where they popularize the song “Glory,” the profits for which Clarabel donates to the stable. Hoppy soon falls in love with Clarabel and presses her to join him on tour, but she demurs. After Chad’s new trainer, Sobbing Sam Cooney, wins all of Agnes’ money in a poker game, she admits to Joe that she has no choice but to close the farm and move to Brooklyn. The next day, Clarabel hears that Agnes has sold Glory to Chad, and furiously confronts Chad for having bought the horse without telling her first. Chad is dumbfounded until he realizes that Sam bought Glory without his permission, and orders the trainer to “lose” the horse back to Agnes. Sam does so in another poker game, but before Agnes can inform Clarabel, the girl packs up to go on tour with Hoppy. Agnes finds her at the nightclub, and as soon as Clarabel hears that Glory is once again hers, she returns to the farm. Agnes decides to move to Brooklyn alone, after which Clarabel hires Ned to train Glory for the Derby. They are almost defeated by the lack of the entrance fee, but all their friends band together to come up with the money, and Glory enters the race. Before the race, Clarabel tells Hoppy that if Glory loses, she will sign his contract. At the last moment, Agnes returns from New York to cheer Glory on, and all are overjoyed when the horse breaks ahead of the pack. Glory wins the race, and in the excitement, Hoppy and Candy grow attracted to each other. In the winner’s circle, as Agnes and Ned make up, the announcer turns to Clarabel for a comment, but she is too busy kissing Chad to speak. 

Production Company: David Butler Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: David Butler (Dir)
  Phil Quinn (Asst dir)
Producer: David Butler (Prod)
Writer: Peter Milne (Scr)
  Gene Markey (From a story by)
Photography: Wilfrid Cline (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  John B. Mansbridge (Art dir)
Film Editor: Irene Morra (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
Costumes: Michael Woulfe (Ward des)
Music: Frank Perkins (Mus comp and cond)
Sound: Earl Wolcott (Sd)
  Terry Kellum (Sd)
  Walter Elliott (Sd eff)
Make Up: Jack Byron (Makeup artist)
  Gertrude Wheeler (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: Francis D'Agostino (Scr supv)
Stand In: Norma Zimmer (Singing voice double for Margaret O'Brien)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Glory," "Gettin' Nowhere Road" and "Kentucky (Means Paradise)," music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Ted Koehler.
Composer: M. K. Jerome
  Ted Koehler
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
David Butler Productions, Inc. 31/12/1955 dd/mm/yyyy LP6093

PCA NO: 17647
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound Recording
  col: Technicolor
  Widescreen/ratio: SuperScope
  Lenses/Prints: Print by Technicolor

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Horse race
  with songs
Subjects (Major): Class distinction
  Horse owners
  Kentucky Derby
Subjects (Minor): Farms
  Horse trainers
  Poker (Game)
  Romantic rivalry

Note: The film opens with voice-over narration describing the majesty of Kentucky's thoroughbred racehorses. Later, near the middle of the film, there is a montage during which the same narrator describes racehorse training. Arthur Hunnicutt was originally cast as "Ned Otis," but according to a 14 Jul 1955 DV news item, he quit the production after arguments with producer-director David Butler over "the way the role of a horse trainer should be interpreted." Modern sources state that Butler originally asked Debbie Reynolds to star in Glory , but she was unavailable. As noted in contemporary reviews, the Kentucky Derby race sequence used footage from the 1955 Derby. That race was won by a horse named Swaps, who played "Glory" in the film.
       As noted in contemporary sources, portions of the films were shot on location in Kentucky at Calumet Farms, which was owned by the wife of writer Gene Markey. HR news items add that other scenes were shot at the Rowland V. Ranch in San Fernando, CA. Although an Oct 1955 LAEx article stated that RKO planned to release the film for the Christmas season, it did not screen until Jan 1956. According to an 11 Nov 1955 HR news item, the 11 Jan 1956 world premiere in Lexington, KY, was sponsored by Calumet Farms and benefited the University of Kentucky Clinic for Spastic Children. HR news items add Sandra Rogers, Gary Marshall, Jimmy Karath and Arthur Little, Jr., to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Jeffrey Sayre and Yvonne Ginest to the cast. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   1 Oct 55   p. 591, 610-12.
Box Office   14 Jan 1956.   
Daily Variety   14 Jul 1955.   
Daily Variety   11 Jan 56   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Jan 56   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jun 1955   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jun 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jul 1955   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jul 1955   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jul 1955   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jul 1955   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jul 1955   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jul 1955   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jul 1955   p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Aug 1955   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Nov 1955   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jan 1956   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jan 56   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   16 Oct 1955.   
Los Angeles Times   31 Mar 1955.   
Los Angeles Times   3 Jun 1955.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   14 Jan 56   p. 737.
Variety   11 Jan 56   p. 6.

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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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