Seabiscuit [2003]

Although it blithely rewrites the history of a legendary race horse, The Story of Seabiscuit is still an appealing example of Technicolor entertainment from Hollywood's studio system. It wasn't unusual for contract players (in this case Shirley Temple, Barry Fitzgerald, and Lon McAllister) to play fictional characters in fact-based stories, since factual fidelity was often considered a secondary priority. That's why this blandly charming drama makes no mention of the legendary Seabiscuit's actual trainer Tom Smith or jockey Red Pollard, who were duly recognized in 2003's Seabiscuit, based on Laura Hillenbrand's historically accurate 2001 bestseller. McAllister plays a loose rendition of Pollard (including his accidental chest injury), wooing a race-phobic nurse (Temple) while "the Biscuit" is trained for championship by luck-of-the-Irish Fitzgerald. A bit quaint by modern standards, but ironically, this is the only movie that features the real Seabiscuit in action, since vintage race footage is included in the black-and-white newsreel interludes. Plus, a bonus featurette from 1946 offers a still-valid primer on the backstage details of horseracing. --Jeff Shannon

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