A Lady Godiva That Might Have Been, Daily Racing Form, 1924-03-12


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A Lady Godiva That Might Have Been BY SALVATOR. I The first lightweight handicap in British turf history, whose renown survives as a Treat sporting event, was the Coventry Htakes, which, according to the veracious chroniclers, was pulled off in the year of grace 1043 or nearly six hundred years before their Majesties gave Newmarket the royal cachet and made it the nesting place cf racing as the "sport of kings." It was on the date above mentioned that the fair Lady Godiva, wife to Coventrys then Earl, "clothed onlie in her chastite" in order to "make the weight" won a bet from her lord and master in an event which the late laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, has embalmed in the amber of immortal verse. In other and less inspired pages we may also read how a troublesome tout of that distant period, in quest of what is nowadays known as "inside info," was caught In the act and suffered the penalty. He has become known to posterity under the somewhat ribald designation of Peeping Tom. SrOItTLSG IXSTKfCT SURVIVES. The sporting instinct, especially as allied with the turf, has remained regnant among the earls of Coventry from that day to this, and, as is well known of all horsemen, the present noble holding that distinguished rank is the "doyen" of the British turf the senior member, I have read, of the Jockey Club and his colors the past season were worn by classic winners. The penchant for the unconventional also still lingers in the blood. Some of the stars of the Coventry stable of 1923 were, alas, not "pur sang," but galloped to victory bearing the "American stain" and other bizarre stigmata. None of these victories, however, has any chance of being so long remembered as that of the Lady Godiva in the year 1043. Owing to the rare picturesqueness of that event, it continues to exert a fascination not only over readers of history, but, particularly, persons who come under the classification of the "artistic temperament." A long line of Lady Godivas has defiled upon the canvases of painters and in the drawings of illustrators, and fair impersonators of the chaste but sportive countess have even ventured upon the boards, for the delight and edification of the elect. As the davs of painters and illustrators, also those of the stage actual, are rapidly passing before the all-powerful and pervasive influence of the camera and the screen, it was only natural that sooner or later the famous event of 1013 should become a subject of exploitation for the "silent drama." Had it occurred in these progressive days, the ride of the Lady Godiva would, of course, have been attended by an army of cinemas, and the "exclusive rights" realized sums beyond the dreams of avarice far, far in excess of those which attended the filming of the Man o War-Sir Barton or Zev-Papyrus affairs, et id genus omnes. This, however, being an impossibility, our enterprising entrepreneurs of celluloid stunts were confronted, in their laudable desire to "give the public what it wants," with the i:roblem of re-creation. Some time ago readers of the movie "colyums" were thrilled by the announcement that one of the most marvelous, magnificent, artistic, moral and refined "pictures" which the resources of Hollywood are capable of producing, was to be devoted to a drama or drammer of which the ride of the Lady Godiva would be the climax. Ever since then not only "movie fans" but all that section of the public with impassioned yearnings for the true, the beautiful and the good, especially of high artistic values, have been panting to view the aforesaid picture. Its "release" was awaited with more impatience than even a presidential message, or the envelope which contains the annual document politely requesting the recipient to walk up to the income tax window and settle. But alas for high art and those who produce and pant for it! The master-minds of Hollywood had. by the aid of unlimited quantities of lath-and-plastcr battlements, and papier-mache "props," just reeking with "atmosphere," got everything "set" for the "big moment." The impersonator of the Ladv Godiva had been selected from among the fairest and most inspired tragediennes cf screendorn and a steed in whose veins there coursed at least according to the scenario "the blood of the desert" very likely of the Boval Mares themselves! secured as her mount. But one bet indeed the best one had, it appeared, been overlooked. A COST73nrATE HORSEWOMAN. Lady Godiva, Countess of Coventry in A. D. 1043, was, like all fair and noble ladies of that epoch, a sonsummate horsewoman. She negotiated her ride to victory with the most exquisite grace and flashed past the post with superb, cclat. But the heroine of Hollywood had, it transpires, never learned to steer anything more mettlesome than her Boyee-Ttools. Nor had it occurred to her "direction" that this was necessary. And scarce had her record-breaking dash through the embattled streets of Hollywood-Coventry began than she lost all control of her mount and that impetuous progeny of Pegasus did not a thing but plunge into well, according to the press dispatches, the orchestra! Awful, indeed, were the casualties. The lovely anatomy of the Lady Godiva of Hollywood was fractured hut, let us hope, that with which, like her beauteous namesake, she was accoutered for her exploit, suffered no damage! Various members of the "production" suffered more or less contusion. Teeping Tom seems to have escaped, however. And for the time being, the so-anxiously-awaited "picture" remains in status quo which, bo it said, is not exactly status quo ante. AVc will continue to pant for it for some time yet, until Lady Godiva, of Hollywood, gets mended and learns how to ride, or a new protagonist can take her place. In which event, of course, all the earlier sections of the film several reels, quite probably will have to be remade. So we are in for a long wait, unendurable almost though it may be. THOSE MOVIE DIRECTORS. Critics of the movies, especially those who fly the banners of the "intelligentsia," are constantly making the observation that movie direction, as well as movie stars, is full of "dumb-bells." It would seem that something of this kind happened in this incident. "Why didnt the direction of the Lady Godiva send over to Gay Paree and there secure, to impersonate their heroine, that fair histrienne if I may coin a word whose photo so frequently adorns the Sab bath Supplements and Roto-Pictorials, astride or dallying with famous thorough-, breds at Lorigchamps? "Who is, in fact, announced by her faithful publicity as training to ride in "regular races" the coming sum- j mer possibly in some bona-fide stake events! Here would have been something to totally eclipse our present galaxy of exotic stars of the screen. Pola Negri, Fern Andrea and all the rest would literally not be in the running. Imagine the enormous success that-would have attended a film with, for instance, Mile. Helder, mounted upon Epinard which is so soon to come over and, we doubt not, his gallant owner would not refuse to loan or let for so artistic a purpose, doing the Lady Godiva act through ancient Cov-entry-a-la-HolIywood! The more one thinks of it, the more one mourns. The greatest opportunity of art, the opportunity of the ages, has been missed! How more than, true is that beautiful if somewhat familiar quotation, "The saddest words of tongue or pen are simply these: It might have teen.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1924031201/drf1924031201_12_1
Local Identifier: drf1924031201_12_1
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800