Directed by: Frank Capra
Written by: Robert Riskin
Starring: Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Walter Connolly, Helen Vinson, Douglass Dumbrille
Achieving riches does not always align with what makes people happy. It’s why most people loathes the idea of their Monday morning alarm. Finding a way to combine the two thus becomes the ultimate goal in life, which our protagonist does when he decides to throw everything else away and run his horse in this minor work by Frank Capra.
Working for his wife’s father, we have Dan Brooks (Warner Baxter) who only has a passion for his horse named Broadway Bill. When his work performance suffers and he’s forced to choose between his professional life and his horse, Dan chooses the latter and leaves stability for his passion and seeing the success of his thoroughbred.
It comes to no surprise a feature like this one would be directed by Frank Capra, seeing as it ticks all of the boxes of the wonderful films he makes. It’s about a man who forgoes the security money provides to follow his passion and do something he actually loves. It may fall on the weaker side of his filmography as a director but based on his rate of success, it still says plenty of the quality of this feature film.
Helping out Dan on this journey to take his horse all the way to the top is his sister-in-law named Alice (Myrna Loy). She was sent by her sister (Dan’s wife) to deliver Dan’s final belongings but she decided to stay and help him because she respects his attitude and has a mild crush on him. I could not fathom letting everything go the way Dan did, but it did expose the toxic people in his life, which included his own wife. She leaves him upon his decision and the companion he always needed ended up being her sister, Alice. Sounds like a soap opera when you look at it, but it becomes wholesome entertainment and a race to the finish to see if Broadway Bill will have the opportunity to race and possibly win.
This feature, like many of Capra’s, lives by putting our protagonist as the underdog. It’s a decision Dan made himself, as he had a stable job within the family and now barely has enough to survive and must support his horse. It requires him to hustle and make every penny count because taking care of a horse is no laughing matter and does not come on the cheap. The ticking clock to see if Dan’s funds or Broadway Bill wins a race makes for some stressful times for our protagonist.
Broadway Bill clearly lays its message on its sleeve as it attempts to tell the story about following one’s dream, even if it leaves a comfortable lifestyle. It may be wishful thinking but ponder how many people across the globe wish they could quit their job and do something they actually love. The reasons for staying in that place of employment may be forced because of family circumstances, especially if caring for children, but this film gives us a first-hand account of what can occur if we’re willing to take a leap of faith. Dan had nothing to lean on when leaving everything he built, but it did not matter to him in the end.
The film serves as an inspirational tale and one where all of these underdogs get together and make the best of their situation. The relationship between Dan and Alice works because they believe in the same thing and hope to make this horse a winner. Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy develop fantastic chemistry throughout the feature to make them a couple worth rooting for even if it’s more one-sided of Alice pining for Dan. The romance drives her to assist but the accomplishment of dreams remains the cause for the entire feature.
While not reaching the quality of Frank Capra’s far superior work, Broadway Bill still has plenty to enjoy throughout. It demonstrates what can happen when someone believes in themselves and pursues their dreams. The film sets up some fun moments between the characters along with a rather shocking ending. It all culminates in a race with the potential to decide the future for every character moving forward. A nice minor delight and one to check out if you need to watch something uplifting.