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1973 could be considered one of the most memorable years of the 20th century in American history. Elvis Presley’s concert in Hawaii is first by an entertainer televised worldwide, being watched by more than the Apollo landing, Vietnam War ended, Roe vs. Wade, Watergate scandal, and the oil crisis begins to name a few. Sports alone became a history maker in that George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, Miami Dolphins won the Super Bowl to be the only perfect season, the first designated hitter rule went into effect, Foreman vs. Frazier, Billie Jean King def. Bobby Riggs in a battle of the sexes tennis match. But none of these brought the country together more than one simple being, an amazing horse, Secretariat.
Mayhem Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures, who brought us the heart wrenching of perseverance and the thrill of an underdog winning in “Miracle” and “Invincible”, have teamed up again to bring us the telling of the whom some would say is the greatest non-human athlete ever. Randall Wallace (We Were All Soldiers, Man in the Iron Mask) takes the reins of this amazing story of going for it all in the face of adversity and the “Old Boys” club. Weaving the silk that is the story is Mike Rich (Radio, The Rookie) who takes William Nack’s “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion” and covers you such warmth that is a story not just about this exquisite horse but the trials and tribulations of the woman that stood up and said ‘NO’. That woman is Penny Chenery, played by Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun, The Perfect Storm), a well educated woman who must step into her father’s footsteps to show everyone that her passion is just as hot as the next man. Helping her realize her gut feelings are true in nature is Lucien Laurin the ex jockey turned trainer that is down on his laurels and needs a boost. John Malkovich (Murn After Reading, The Great Buck Howard) saddles up as the extravagantly dressed (for the time) Lucien.
It was a coin toss to decide a champion. Christopher Chenery (Scott Glenn) and the richest man in america, Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell) agreed instead of money that a coin toss would be used to give the winner the choice of foals between Phipps’ stallion and Chenery’s mares. Chenery would never see that toss but his daughter Penny (lane) would. Having stepped into the family business after her mom passed away and to help out her father whose health was failing him. Penny had never run a stable before but she knew she had it in her blood. After doing a little research she knew which foal she wanted, and she got it, even though she lost the toss. She had to find a trainer though if she was to prove her theory and on good word she found Lucien Laurin (Malkovich), a trainer and ex jockey who had trained some good horses and some busts. Penny knew he could do it and put her trust in him even though he didn’t think he could do it himself. When the day came for the foal to be born, Penny, Lucien and Eddie Sweat (Nelson Ellis) saw something they had never seen before, a colt stand up almost immediately. They all saw that flash of greatness before their eyes, the chestnut red, they called Big Red. The only issue at hand was dealing with her father’s recent death and inheritance issues she would need to step up with the ‘Old Boys’ and beat them at their own game. Once given that chance to, Big Red loved to run and run he did, with the help of jockey Ron Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth), they ran into history.
What more can I say than this film is just like a horse race. In the beginning it is steady and builds. By the first turn it picks up and there is a lot of jockeying for many parts of the story, by the back stretch you get a clearer picture of what everyone is going thru. The last turn speeds up even more as the stakes are bigger and losing is not an option. Coming around to the home stretch you have a clear view of the finish line and the roses waiting for you. Penny did a lot of what she did by gut feeling. Something many of us never act upon. Let alone everyone thought there was no way she could do it. Not even her own blood, her brother or her husband had faith in her. She didn’t care. She knew what had to be done and who to go to, to help her. Lucien, Eddie, and Ron knew she had faith and knew Secretariat was a winner. There was no stopping this horse that just wanted to run. You can learn a lot from watching this film or even going on YouTube and seeing the clips yourself of this magnificent horse and he’s amazing family. Life is like a race, no matter what, as long as you have the drive, keep running. Make the right moves and the finish line will be right in front of you.
DISC BONUS FEATURES:
The same as the DVD, plus…
• Choreographing The Races – This piece looks at how director Randall Wallace and the filmmakers used innovative tools and technology to accurately and excitingly recreate the Triple Crown races that make the viewer feel like they are standing on the backstretch themselves.
• A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation With The Real Penny Chenery – Director Randall Wallace sits down with Secretariat owner Penny Chenery to review the movie and some of the key scenes. Penny reflects on what it was like to have been a woman in a male dominated sport and to have been part of horse racing’s most exciting moments in history.
• Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace – View the film with optional audio commentary from Director Randall Wallace.
• Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace – The same deleted scenes as the DVD, plus four more…
o Alternate Opening
o “Are You A Golfer?”
o No Time To Rest
• Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation – Relive Secretariats triumphant 1973 Preakness race by viewing the race from a number of perspectives as well as listening to commentaries from fans, announcers and even the jockey who rode Secretariat to their record finish.
• Heart Of A Champion – This feature takes a look at one of the most famous thoroughbred horses ever known. Secretariat was a horse with style as well as amazing speed and an unsurpassed racing record. We interview all the key players from the day as well as today’s filmmakers to learn more about the horse affectionately called “Red.”
• Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace
o Director Introduction
o Seth Joins The Team
o Too Soon To Celebrate
• Music Video – AJ Michalka “It’s Who You Are”
The same as the DVD, plus…
• Choreographing The Races