Here and There on the Turf: Racing in Fiction an Encouraging Sign but the Movies Still Lie Needed Reform, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-23


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Here and There on the Turf Racing in Fiction. An Encouraging Sign. But the Movies Still Lie. Needed Reform. "While one of the so-called "million dollar" movie thrillers is flaunting a false and vicious picture of the turf before the American public, it is encouraging to find a reputable magazine like ""Everybodys" opening its columns to a healthier and truer form of racing fiction. In the February issue of this publication begins a series of stories by Sam Carson. The . first of the scries is a good story, which is the important thing from the standpoint of the magazine publisher, perhaps, but more important, so far as the turf is concerned, it is a more truthful picture than has been given to the American public for a number of years. "Everybodys" also has a department in which its writers are allowed to have their say about things in general, and the following excerpt from Mr. Carsons contribution to that "department might well become gospel for all those who think of treating the turf in fiction or motion pictures: "It is a pleasure to write racing fiction, because that weirdly contrasting section of humanity lives for but one thing, the thoroughbred. Somebody once wrote a story about a crooked jockey, a contorted owner and a girl, and that version seems to persist in being the picture of turfdom. Well, it isnt, not by a jugful. I think there are far more children of the stables and finely dressed women in the clubhouse who see- racing as the elderly lady who hasnt missed the last twenty Derbys. When I di?, she announced one day, I want to be buried at the head of the homestretch, where the horses come thundering around the turn of the track. I want to be buried there so I can hear thsm and the crowds roaring. That is fhe spirit of he thing, something more than a sport, it is the horses." Mr. Carson appears to know his subject, which is far more than can be said of the scenario writer and the director who staged the pickpocket scene in the race track clubhouse, which takes such an important part in that vicious Broadway movie. A great section of the public attending that motion picture show will know as little about racing as the scenario writer and the director. That picture of the turf will set the minds of such spectators against . a great sport which is freer from crookedness than many others. It is the duty of everyone interested in the welfare of the turf to combat such pernicious propaganda, for propaganda it is, whether intentional or not. The motion picture concerns have been allowed a great deal of freedom around the race tracks. They have been allowed to use the property of the racing associations as "locations" and they have been allowed to photograph the actual racing. All this would be perfectly justifiable, and even beneficial to the turf, if the motion picture interests would "play fair." But they have not done so, and it is time that something should be done to curb them. One way of accomplishing this end would j be for every association to insist on examining the scenario before granting permission to use the track by- the motion picture company. Then permission could be withheld if the scenario turned out to be a malicious and false picture of the turf. There is another method used in making up these perverted portrayals of the sport. This is to incorporate a picture of an actual race into a film. This practice could be stopped if every news-reel concern were forced to sign an agreement not to use any picture of an actual race in other than a news film before permission would be granted for photographing a race. These methods of combating deliberate or unintentional falsity in portraying the turf on the screen are drastic, of course. It would be altogether unnecessary to put them into effect if the motion picture interests themselves will assume a sensible attitude toward the question. Certainly there can be no profit for these concerns in falsifying their pictures of a great sport. There is far more thrill in an honest race than there is in a crooked one, and an astute picture director would realize that fact rather quickly. But such propaganda must be curbed and the racing associations are in the best position to assume the initiative in .this direction. If the motion picture concerns are not willing to submit their racing films to a voluntary censorship, then such a curb on their evil tendencies in this respect should be forced by the owners of the race tracks. To return to Mr. Carson and "Everybodys," the magazine is to be congratulated on thus taking the lead in giving to the general public a truthful picture of racing as it is. Racing can well afford to be treated truthfully in fiction; it has seldom been pictured veraciously in the past, but no sport can afford to be subjected to constant malicious treatment in fiction and motion pictures. No sport is better governed than the turf and in no sport is it more difficult for a crook to carry his plans to success. Yet the motion picture which treats of racing, in most cases, would lead to the belief that there is no such a thing as a race decided on its merits. Always there is the crooked jockey, the crooked owner and minor crooks of all varieties. It is to be hoped that other magazines will follow in the steps of "Everybodys" in printing truthful, wholesome racing stories and that other writers on turf subjects will follow in the footsteps of Mr. Carson when treating the greatest of outdoor sports.

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