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Racing Hearts (1923)
Released by: Paramount
Starring: Agnes Ayres, Richard DIx
Director: Paul Powell
Film length: 6 reels
This silent movie is not filmed at the Indy
Speedway, but a lakebed in the Mojave Desert
that Hollywood converted into a racetrack.
It does feature some Indy 500 drivers though -
Edward Heffman, Jerry Wunderlich, Jimmy
Murphy, Tommy Milton and Ralph DePalma.
SYNOPSIS: Because he refuses to advertise the
automobiles he manufactures, John Kent's
business is failing. In an effort to gain some
publicity, his daughter, Virginia, has a racing car
built while Kent is away. Kent's rival sends his son,
Roddy Smith, to spy on the operations and bribes
another worker to drive the car and throw the
race. Virginia discovers the plot, cannot persuade
Roddy to break his promise to drive his father's
car, and enters the race herself. She drives to a
thrilling victory and marries Roddy.
Note: Wikapedia claims this film was lost.
Released by: MGM
Starring: William Haines, Anita Page
Director: Harry Beaumont
Run Time: 1hr 16m
Real race car driver: Harry Hartz
Synopsis: Racecar driver Bill Whipple has an
argument with his foster father, Jim MacDonald,
also a racer, before the Indianapolis 500 Race,
and deserts him to drive another car. MacDonald
is barred from the race because of a weak heart;
simultaneously, Whipple is ditched by the owner of
the other car. He returns to race with MacDonald,
and toward the end Whipple lets him take the
wheel for the winning finish.
Note: This is a silent film with location shooting
at the Indy Speedway.
Released by: MGM
Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Wendy Barrie
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Run Time: 1h 6m
Synopsis: With the help of his mechanic buddy, an
engineer, and the company's attractive new
publicist, an automotive test driver struggles to
develop a new carburetor by entering cars in the
Indy 500 and speed trials at California's Muroc
Note: this was Jimmy Stewart's first starring role.
Watch the original trailer at TCM
Indianapolis Speedway (1939)
(Also known as: The Devil on Wheels,
The Roaring Road)
Released By: Warner Bros.
Starring: Ann Sheridan, Pat O'Brien, John Payne
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Run Time: 1h 25m
Real Driver in film: Billy Arnold - 1930 Indy 500
Synopsis: A race-car driver tries to keep his kid
brother from taking to the track.
This remake of THE CROWD ROARS (1932)
deviates little from the original Jimmy Cagney
starrer, with Pat O'Brien in the lead role as Joe
Greer, an auto racer who is determined to keep
his younger brother, Eddie, in school and away
from the racetrack. Frustrated, Eddie takes a seat
behind the wheel of someone else's car, and when
he and Joe battle it out on the track, Joe's friend,
Spud Connors, is killed. Joe then begins a
downward spiral that doesn't end until he has to
take over for Eddie during the Indianapolis 500.
Though its racing scenes are relatively well done,
this Lloyd Bacon-directed film finishes a distant
second to Howard Hawks' superior original.
Watch the trailer at TCM
The Big Wheel (1949)
Released by: United Artists
Starring: Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell
Director: Edward Ludwig
Runtime: 1h 32m
Synopsis: The son of a drunken, womanizing, race
car driver who died in an accident on the track,
strives to follow in his father's footsteps in this
Note: Ludwig shot most of The Big Wheel at a
Gardena, California speedway, which does triple
duty as Carrell Speedway, Culver City Stadium and
even Indianapolis Motor Speedway, although the
majority of the film's concluding scenes are
accomplished via second unit footage (grabbed at
the 44th Indy 500 race in May 1949) and rear
REVIEW From TVGuide:
Mickey Rooney stars as Billy Coy, the racing-car
driver son of the late, great auto racer Cannonball
Coy, who was killed in the Indianapolis 500. While
racing out West, the young Coy accidentally causes
the death of another driver and, burdened with a
reputation as a daredevil, he is unable to find an
owner who will give him a car to race and is forced
to move to the eastern circuit, where his name isn't
a liability. Louise Riley (Mary Hatcher), who sticks
with him through thin and thinner, is finally rewarded
when Billy comes to his senses after finishing third
at Indy, his car in flames.
To Please a Lady (1950)
Also Known As: Red Hot Wheels
Released by: MGM
Starring: Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck
Director: Clarence Brown
Runtime: 91 minutes
Synopsis: Romantic melodrama about the volatile
love affair between a thrill-seeking race car driver
and an influential newspaper and radio columnist.
Regina Forbes derides speed demon Mike
Brannan in her column, convinced that his
reckless driving was directly responsible for a
racing rival's death. After being banned from the
track and reduced to stunt driving, Brannan
manages to clean up his act enough to get a shot
at Indianapolis. Can he win the big race -- and
Watch the trailer at TCM
Roar of the Crowd (1953)
AKA The Indianapolis Story, The Roaring Crowd
Released by: Monogram
Starring: Howard Duff, Helene Stanley
Director: William Beaudine
Run Time: 1 hr 11 minutes
Real race car drivers in film: Bill Vukovich, Johnnie
Parsons, Manuel Ayulo, Duke Nalon and Henry
Synopsis: Johnny Tracy, son of veteran race
driver Pop Tracy, is working his way up on the
racing circuit, but is urged by his sweetheart,
Marcy Parker, to give up the track if he wants to
marry her. He persuades her to marry him on the
promise that he will quit after racing once in the
Indianapolis 500, but he is injured in a qualifying
race and goes to work as a spark plug salesman
for an old family friend. He is a failure at selling
but Marcy changes her attitude towards his
racing, and he qualifies for the 500.
Released by: Universal
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Wagner
Director: James Goldstone
Runtime: 2h 3 minutes
Real race car drivers in film: Bobby Unser, Dan
Gurney, Roger McCluskey and Bobby Grim.
Also Tony Hulman, owner of the Indy Speedway.
This film features much footage of the 500 race.
The racing sequences leading to the Indianapolis
500 are superbly staged, and the cast are
Frank Capua is a rising star on the race circuit
who dreams of winning the big one--the
Indianapolis 500. But to get there he runs the risk
of losing his wife to his rival, and strains the
relationship with his stepson.
Watch the trailer at IMDB
Released by: 20th Century Fox
Voiced by: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti
Director: David Soren
Runtime: 1h 36m
Synopsis: After a freak accident infuses him with
the power of super-speed, Turbo kicks into
overdrive and embarks on an extraordinary
journey to achieve the seemingly impossible:
competing in the world's fastest race, the
Indianapolis 500. With the help of his tricked-out
streetwise snail crew, this ultimate underdog puts
his heart and shell on the line to prove that no
dream is too big, and no dreamer too small.
Note: This computer-animated comedy was
produced by DreamWorks Animation.
The Indy Motor Speedway and IndyCar racing
is represented very authentically.
Watch trailer at IMDB
My Comment: I first learned that seat belts weren't invented before the 1950's when I saw this movie.
It didn't help that the race cars had cut-outs where the doors would be either. In the movie's footage
from Indy, many of the crashes had the drivers fall right out of their cars onto the track, sometimes in
front of oncoming cars!
Comment by Neil Lynch, Brooklyn Park, MM: My dad's crash is in this movie!
Perhaps the fondest memories of my father's life were those involving his one and only entry in the Indy
500 from 1949, the event chronicled in this movie. My dad, George Lynch, crashed after the first lap,
hitting the wall in the first turn near the camera bay. The event is captured in the film, with the racetrack
announcer calling his name. Figures that my dad's one and only Indy mishap is captured forever on film.
The Crowd Roars (1932)
AKA The Roar of the Crowd
Released by: Warner Bros.
Starring: James Cagney, Joan Blondell
Directed by: Howard Hawks
Runtime: 1h 25m
Real drivers: Stubby Stubblefield, Jack Brisco,
Shorty Cantlon, Wilbur Shaw, Mel Keneally, Ralph
Hepburn, Leo Nomis, Harry Hartz, Spider Matlock,
Billy Arnold and Fred Frame.
Synopsis: A hotshot racecar driver whose kid
brother idolizes him. He realizes his lifestyle
probably isn't the best thing for a kid, although he's
not particularly interested in abandoning it himself.
He has a taste for loose women, and actually lives
with one. The little brother takes up racing himself,
and becomes an on-track rival of his older
brother's. Then the kid shows up with a brassy
broad on his arm. This leads to a bout with alcohol
for one of the main characters, and an unlikely
turn of events at the Indy 500.
Note: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway serves
as the location for the climactic race, but other
scenes were shot at California's Ventura
Speedway and Ascot Speedway.
Watch the trailer at TCM
These movies are about race car
drivers and involve the Indy 500.