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A great American story from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross, Seabiscuit stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper. Based on the inspiring true story of three men - a jockey, a trainer and a businessman - and the undersized racehorse who took the entire nation on the ride of a lifetime. This breathtaking film achievement is "a must-see moviegoing experience" (Chicago Sun-Times) and "a flat-out great movie!" (Larry King Live, CNN)
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Also, David McCullough is a wonderful addition with his narration throughout the film.
Charles Howard moved west with 21 cents in his pocket as a bicycle salesman who became the richest man in California once he started selling the horseless carriage. The loss of his son in a truck accident and the subsequent separation from his wife change the man's life. He meets a drifter and plainsman who loves horses and understands them. He is Thomas Smith. Together they look for horses to buy, and Smith sees something in the eye of one of them and convinces Howard to pay the $8,000 price. Smith also notices a hot-tempered jockey who was abandoned by his family at an early age. He thinks he will be the perfect match for the horse that slept and ate too much--Red Pollard. The cantankerous two take an instant like to each other.
Pollard, Smith, and Seabiscuit are underdogs in the time of the Great Depression where underdogs were something to be cherished and cheered. The bowlegged, graceless horse begins to win race after race and captures the imagination of a nation. The horse that is too short starts to win with a jockey who believes in holding the horse back until it can see the eye of the horse next to it, and then lets him loose destroying the spirit of the competition. Howard decides to push for a match race between Seabcuit and the lord of the east, War Admiral, who at a sleek 18 hands, seems to be an easy winner. Radio announcer "Tick-Tock McLaughlin" played by William Macy plays up the match race and adds a humorous touch to the movie.
This double DVD series is a great buy. The first is the movie, and the second offers: Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral, the 1938 Match Race; Winners' Circle: The Heroes Behind the Legend; HBO First Look; The True Story of Seabiscuit. The photo book contains a few pictures from the movie and should be inconsequential in your consideration. In addition to the superb acting and story line, David McCullough provides an outstanding narration much as he did for the series, "Civil War." This gives the film the feel of a docu-drama.
This is a story about a horse and people who interacted in a way that gave purpose to each other. There's no handicap in watching this.
P. S. It would be nice if all the parts of real life ended as the movie. Howard owned several horses, but none ever achieved the stature of Seabiscuit. He would die in California in 1950. Thomas Smith became the top horse trainer in the country. Red Pollard suffered numerous injuries as a jockey, but one injury led him to fall in love with the nurse attending him. He married her and had two children. He was less fortunate financially as he ended up as a valet polishing boots of other jockeys. Seabiscuit was retired at the age of seven, and sired other horses. Its heart gave way at the young age of 14 and he is buried at an unknown location on the Howard ranch.
There was a time when Seabiscuit was America's most celebrated personality, getting even more pub than F.D.R. Seabiscuit lived and raced during the Great Depression, the course of his storied life running parallel with the ups and downs of that era. He was the son of Hard Tack, grandson of Man-O-War, and growing up he was abused and so became bitter and incorrigible. Standing barely 15 hands, the Biscuit was certainly never tapped to be a champion racehorse. His mean upbringing is mentioned, except that the film's first 44 minutes devote themselves to a leisurely introduction of the three damaged men who would shape the Biscuit's career, shape him into a legend. One after another, we meet the visionary entrepreneur (who is a bit of a huckster), the peculiar horse whisperer quietly mourning a vanishing way of life, and the half-blind, overeducated jockey who boxed and quoted Shakespeare.
The casting choices are spot-on. There's no bad egg in this bunch, from the principal actors - and how many crazy pounds did Tobey Maguire lose for the part? - down to ancillary characters like George "the Iceman" Woolf as played by real life jockey Gary Stevens (in his debut role) and the fun, fast-talking radio announcer Tick Tock McGlaughlin, marvelously brought to life by William H. Macy.
The races are rousing, pulse-pounding stuff, yeah. The story builds up to the historic match race with War Admiral and later the Santa Anita Hundred Grander, and I couldn't believe how intense my sense of anticipation was leading into these races. And when you bring up that list of best sports cinema, SEABISCUIT is up there with ROCKY and HOOSIERS, because how do you not root for this gutsy ugly little horse? Narrated with quiet assurance by David McCullough, this is something lyrical, a period film that looks authentic and packs an emotional punch. It's also a dynamite history lesson concerning a time when the country was tested severely, and phrases like "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" and "never say die attitude" circulated like a mother, became rallying cries. Beaten down but never bowed was the Biscuit, and he never quit. You can see why he became the common guy's hero. See this movie. Read the book.
The DVD's special features include: audio commentary by director Gary Ross and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (in which the two pause the movie several times to go even more in depth about certain scenes); "Bringing the Legend to Life": the Making of SEABISCUIT (00:15:04 minutes); "Anatomy of a Movie Moment" - Gary Ross shares his step-by-step filmmaking process of one sequence from script to screen; "Seabiscuit: Racing thru History" explores more of Seabiscuit's stunning rise to celebrity status thru historic newsreel footage of actual races (including clips of his match race with War Admiral) and numerous interviews, including interviews with Gary Ross and author Laura Hillenbrand (00:14:53); "Photo Finish" - Jeff Bridges' On the Set photographs; "The Longshot" - a special message from Buick, set in a faux newsreel format and which goes into the origins of the Buick auto and also of Charles Howard's involvement (00:03:19); promotional material; cast & filmmakers bios and film highlights; production notes; and DVD-ROM features.