Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Anxious to remain active in the 1950s, director Frank Capra wanted to prove to Paramount Pictures that he could deliver an "A" picture on a modest budget. To that end, Capra bought the rights of his 1934 film Broadway Bill from Columbia, and remade it under the title Riding High. He then hired many of the supporting actors who'd appeared in Broadway Bill -- including Clarence Muse, Douglass Dumbrille, Ward Bond, Charles Lane and Frankie Darro -- so he could match up his newly shot scenes with stock footage from the earlier film. Capra even kept the musical costs down by having star Bing Crosby sing such public-domain favorites as "Camptown Races" (though there is one delightful original song, "We Ought to Bake a Sunshine Camera" performed without dubbing by Crosby, Muse, and leading-lady Colleen Gray). Crosby steps into the old Warner Baxter role as Dan Brooks, scion of a wealthy family who prefers hanging around racetracks to the responsibilities of his family business. Scheduled for a "proper" marriage to Margaret Higgins (Frances Gifford), the snooty daughter of millionaire J. L. Higgins (Charles Bickford), Dan infinitely prefers the company of Margaret's younger sister Alice (Coleen Gray), who loves horses as much as he. Hoping to declare his financial independence, he pins his future on a racehorse named Broadway Bill. Though not in the same league as Capra's earlier classics, Riding High is lots of fun. It is especially enjoyable for film buffs, thanks to Capra's decision to fill the picture with uncredited celebrity cameo appearances -- including Oliver Hardy, minus Stan Laurel, as an apoplectic horse player.
family-business, horse-trainer, love-triangle, racehorse, racetrack, wager