Boots Malone (1952)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Sports Drama  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

An enjoyable little race track flick, Boots Malone is not a classic but it does make for entertaining viewing. Milton Holmes' screenplay provides many of both the strengths and weaknesses of Boots. On the debit side, the story that it tells is one that, especially to modern audiences, comes across as somewhat on the trite side. It's the old "reformation and salvation of a gruff type and the coming of age of an innocent" tale, something that has been done many times before and since. However, on the plus side, Holmes has an eye and an ear for telling detail when it comes to character, especially when those characters are part and parcel of the race track milieu. There's a tang to the slang, an energy to those denizens of the paddock and the betting window, and this helps to overcome the familiarity of the story. Director William Dieterle also does a fine job of capturing the magic and the misery of the setting, utilizing on location lensing to very good effect. Star William Holden is in good form as the jockey rep that needs to get his priorities in order; his laconic intensity is especially valuable here. Johnny Stewart is a bit forced as the young jockey that partners him, but the two have a very decent chemistry. The supporting cast, especially Stanley Clements, is spot on.