Seabiscuit: the greatest horse racing movie of all time is coming to Disney+

Tobey Maguire plays jockey Red Pollard in Seabiscuit.

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Tobey Maguire plays jockey Red Pollard in Seabiscuit.

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Seabiscuit (M, 140mins) Directed by Gary Ross ****½

Shortly after Phar Lap stole hearts and wallets in Australasia, a little bay colt with gnarled knees took America by storm.

Seabiscuit, born in 1933, made almost half a million dollars for its owner, Charles S. Howard, between 1935 and 1940. Its rise coincided with the start of racing radio broadcasts and a population desperate for everything way to escape the effects of the Great Depression.

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Despite her not exactly catchy nickname (not a patch on Hoof Hearted or Miss Thunderstood), Seabiscuit (maritime foodies will pick up on her name when they learn her dad was Hard Tack) gained more columns in pre-Second-Second America. World War Hitler, Mussolini, or Roosevelt.

Using archival footage, the story of Seabiscuit was first filmed in 1949 as The Story of Seabiscuit. Despite the added benefit of using her son Sea Sovereign for the close-ups, the film had little to do with the story and more to do with giving teenage girl Shirley Temple a romantic role. and dramatic.

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Seabiscuit is now available to stream on Disney+.

In 2003, writer-director Gary Ross aimed to right Hollywood’s past wrongs and bring to life the true story of the 1938 Horse of the Year. Using Laura Hillenbrand’s 1999 book Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Ross focuses on the three men who shared the glory that was “the greatest four-legged sensation since Hope and Crosby”.

There’s charismatic owner Howard (Jeff Bridges), outspoken trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) and Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), the oversized jockey who tells stories with the clash of red hair. Each of the trios is linked not only by the lame, hissing little horse with the talent to sleep and eat, but also by triumph, tragedy and tumult.

Seabiscuit is not without its flaws. It falls into the pitfalls of hokey dialogue and mandatory slow-motion camera work, but overcomes those hurdles with a mix of Ross’ inventiveness and a solid cast.

Part history lesson, part boy adventure, Seabiscuit is a superb sports drama, reminiscent of Chariots of Fire or Eight Men Out.

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Part history lesson, part boy adventure, Seabiscuit is a superb sports drama, reminiscent of Chariots of Fire or Eight Men Out.

Along with using black-and-white stills from the era and fake Movietone reels, Ross infuses his film with a vast palette of vibrant colors (he is, after all, the man who gave us Pleasantville) . The film is lovingly crafted and has an easy charm, without ever overdoing the card of sentimentality this subject matter could have easily brought. Randy “Toy Story” Newman’s subtle but expansive score is also made good use of, but Ross isn’t afraid to turn it off either to ensure the images have their full impact.

Part history lesson, part boy adventure, Seabiscuit is a superb sports drama, reminiscent of Chariots of Fire or Eight Men Out.

As Maguire expands his repertoire and Cooper adds to his cannon of loose cannons (and William H. Macy blatantly steals scenes), it’s Bridges who deserves the applause. Evoking memories of his terrific turn in Tucker: A Man and his Dream in 1988, Bridges delivers a powerful performance.

Seabiscuit is now available to stream on Disney+.

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