Movie Review: Indianapolis Speedway (1939)

Synopsis: Joe Greer is a successful racecar driver who uses his winnings to pay for his younger brother's college tuition.  When he learns his brother, Eddie, has been using his money to pay for his own budding racing career, he forbids it. However, when Eddie refuses to give up his dream, he reluctantly agrees to train him. However, a disagreement over Eddie's girlfriend and a fatal accident leads to the brothers parting ways until they meet again at the Indianapolis Speedway.

Who's in it? The movie stars Pat O'Brien, Ann Sheridan, John Payne, Gale Page and Frank McHugh


Review: I came across this movie a few days ago and, while I wasn't completely sure about it, ended up taking the time to watch it mostly because I recognized some of the stars. While it wasn't completely what I was expecting, it ended up being an interesting choice.

One thing, in particular, I found I liked about this movie was how easy it was for me to relate to Joe (O'Brien), at least when it came to his brother, who he treated more like a son. As a father, I can understand his desire to keep Eddie (Payne) safe, even if he might have crossed the line a little bit with Eddie's girlfriend, Frankie (Sheridan).

The brothers' reversal of fortune about midway through the movie was also an interesting twist. Movies of this nature tend to be a bit predictable but, in this case, the movie changing so Joe was trying to get his life back together while Eddie was experiencing success made the ending a lot more difficult to figure out than I would have expected.

The racing scenes were heavily edited but still a memorable part of the movie as well. This is especially true of the fatal crash caused by Joe. I really felt for the deceased driver's wife as she could only helplessly watch as her husband burned up in flames. It was honestly a bit more intense than I was expecting from a movie like this.

One thing I feel the movie should have done better is doing a better job of explaining why Joe and Frankie hated each other so much. It's one thing to have two characters dislike each other but this felt like there was some sort of dark history between the two of them (ex-lovers?), to the point Frankie would try to get away before Joe even arrived, as though she was expecting a fight). At the same time, Frankie also seemed to have at least a hint of respect for Joe, even chastising Eddie for spending Joe's money on her. In any case, it looked like their history would be an entertaining story.

Final Opinion: The movie probably could have used a little more racing but, overall, it ended up being an entertaining drama and a film I would recommend.

My Grade: A

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