As Disney's "Secretariat" gallops into theaters this weekend, the
film provides some fodder for horse racing enthusiasts to nitpick. Many
movies based on real events, it seems, distort at least some of the
story under the imprimatur of dramatic license, but racing movies about
real horses often seem to be at the front of that pack.
Lap," a 1983 Australian picture about a tragic wonder horse from Down
Under, was a notable exception -- one reason it is still considered one
of the best racing films ever made.
On the other hand, both Seabiscuit movies played with the truth.
"The Story of Seabiscuit" (1949) is perhaps the worst horse movie ever
made. Its story is virtually cut from whole cloth, with Barry
Fitzgerald as a trainer mumbling profundities and Shirley Temple trying
to keep up with a badly done Irish accent. The 2003 film "Seabiscuit,"
which was nominated for a best picture Oscar, contained inaccuracies;
it said, for instance, that Seabiscuit arch-rival War Admiral was a
much bigger horse, when in reality the two were about the same size.