AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Pride of the Blue Grass
Alternate Title: Gantry the Great
Director: William McGann (Dir)
Release Date:   7 Oct 1939
Premiere Information:   Louisville, KY premiere: 20 Sep 1939
Production Date:   began 14 Feb 1939
Duration (in mins):   65
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Edith Fellows (Midge Griner)  
    James McCallion (Danny Lowman)  
    Gantry The Blind Horse    
    Granville Bates (Col. Bob Griner)  
    Aldrich Bowker (Judge)  
    Arthur Loft (Dave Miller)  
    DeWolf Hopper (Joe)  
    Frankie Burke (Willie Hobson)  
    Fred Tozere (1st stranger)  
    Edgar Edwards (2nd stranger)  
    John Butler (Mack Lowman)  
    Sam McDaniels (Domino Jones)  
    Bernice Pilot (Beverly)  
    Walter Fenner (Secretary to Board of Stewards)  
    Raymond Brown (Sheriff Adams)  
    Lawrence Grant (Lord Shropshire)  
    Reid Kilpatrick (Clem Baker, announcer)  
    Creighton Hale (English announcer)  
    Ernie Stanton (Roberts)  
    Cliff Saum (Bailiff)  
    Nat Carr (Clerk)  
    William Worthington (First steward)  
    Stuart Holmes (Second steward)  
    Eddie Graham (Third steward)  
    Howard Mitchell (Messenger)  
    William Gould (First detective)  
    Hal Craig (Second detective)  
    Earl Dwire (Dr. Holmes)  
    Billy McClain (Black groom)  
    Owen King (Reporter)  
    Garland Smith (Second reporter)  
    Olaf Hytten (Spectator)  
    Herbert Evans (Steward)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Steward)  
    Jack Richardson (Steward)  
    Crauford Kent (Chief steward)  
    Cyril Thornton    

Summary: A colt, son of Gantry the Great, a thoroughbred race horse, is born during a thunderstorm to horse trainer Mack Lowman and his son Danny. Lightning strikes the barn and sets it on fire, and although Danny successfully rescues the colt, Mack and the mare are killed. Because Mack, who had been accused of being a racetrack crook, ended his life in shame and debt, Danny hopes to grow into a prize-winning jockey with Gantry, Jr. To keep Gantry from being used to pay off Mack's debts, Danny gives him to his longtime friend, Midge Griner, whose father, Colonel Griner, runs a horse farm, and heads West. After Gantry has grown, the Griners' servant, Domino, reads that Danny, now a jockey, has been arrested for selling tips at the tracks. A Louisville judge is about to sentence Danny to reform school when Midge tells him that her father is willing to hire Danny. When the judge calls the colonel to confirm, Midge begs her father to give Danny a chance. Danny reveals that while he was on the West Coast, the horse owners found out he was Mack Lowman's son and refused to give him mounts. Later, at the Griner ranch, stablehand Dave Miller insults Danny, then whips Gantry in an attempt to train him, upsetting the horse. Although Danny immediately calms Gantry, he is deemed untrainable. Danny trains Gantry himself, and a week before the Harvard Stakes, Midge convinces the colonel to take a look at Gantry. On Griner's track, Gantry successfully wins an impromptu race against the colonel's Harvard Stakes entry, Silent Night, who pulls a tendon. The colonel then buys Gantry from Midge and Danny, promising to split the profits with them, and enters Gantry in the Harvard Stakes, with Danny as his jockey. Gantry wins and becomes Griner's only Kentucky Derby entry. During the next six months, Gantry's winnings keep the farm running. At Churchill Downs, Gantry nearly wins the Derby, but falters at the end. Danny is accused of throwing the race, but vows to exonerate himself one day. Danny then discovers that Gantry is blind, and that his blindness was probably caused by a blow that Miller gave him before quitting the farm. Although a veterinarian recommends destroying Gantry, Danny soon discovers that Gantry can run and jump as long as he is riding him. Domino helps Danny train Gantry for the steeplechase, while the colonel prepares to sell the farm and retire from racing. Domino, Danny and Gantry secretly take the boat to Liverpool, where Gantry is ruled eligible for the Grand National, which he must win to recoup the colonel's fortune. When Gantry wins, Danny pleads with the colonel during a radio broadcast to believe he never threw a race. Domino assures him that everything including the name of Mack Loman is "squared now." 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: William McGann (Dir)
  Harry Seymour (Dial dir)
  Russ Saunders (Asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Hal B. Wallis (Exec prod)
  Bryan Foy (Assoc prod)
Writer: Vincent Sherman (Orig scr)
Photography: Ted McCord (Photog)
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer (Art dir)
Film Editor: Frank Dewar (Film ed)
Costumes: Howard Shoup (Gowns)
Music: Howard Jackson (Mus)
Sound: Lincoln Lyons (Sd)
Production Misc: Bob Ross (Unit mgr)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 7/10/1939 dd/mm/yyyy LP9154

PCA NO: 5225
Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Horse race
 
Subjects (Major): Blindness
  False accusations
  Horseracing
  Horses
  Jockeys
  Reputation
 
Subjects (Minor): Arson
  False accusations
  Family honor
  Fathers and sons
  Fires
  Fixed horse races
  Horse owners
  Judges
  Kentucky Derby
  Lightning
  Louisville (KY)
  Ostracism
  Servants
  Stableboys

Note: The working titles of this film were Steeplechase and Gantry the Great . The opening credits dedicate the film to "Gantry, thoroughbred race horse. His sight was destroyed--but, like a true champion, his spirit and courage could not and would not be extinguished." According to a news item in HR , Bonita Granville replaced Jane Bryan in the lead when Bryan's previous commitments prevented her from appearing, however neither actress appeared in the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   2 Nov 39   p. 3.
Film Daily   12 Oct 39   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Feb 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Feb 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Feb 39   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Sep 39   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Nov 39   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   6 Nov 39   p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald   11 Nov 39   p. 42.
Variety   18 Oct 39   p. 14.

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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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