It's Kentucky Derby time, so what's the best horse-racing movie to watch? Check out today's Ask the Critic question and post your own

By Ken Tucker
May 03, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
National Velvet: MGM / The Kobal Collection

It’s Derby time, so what’s the best horse-racing movie?

We are a week away from the Kentucky Derby. What would you recommend as the quintessential horse-racing movie to view before the big race? — Charlene Shaw

I’m glad you’re not limiting me to movies set at the Kentucky Derby; while there have been a few (like 1930’s Big Boy, with Al Jolson as a jockey, and 1939’s Pride of the Bluegrass, about a horse that loses the derby), the race hasn’t inspired cinematic greatness. On the other hand, there are several terrific family-fare racetrack movies, from National Velvet (1944), starring a luminous Elizabeth Taylor at the Grand National, to last year’s Dreamer, with a glowing Dakota Fanning in a story about the Breeder’s Cup. But if I had to pick one horsey movie to get me in a nice, competitive mood, I’d go with The Killing (1956), Stanley Kubrick’s white-knuckle-tense, equine noir about the meticulous planning and execution of a racetrack robbery. And they’re off!

(Got a DVD-related question for Ken? Post it here.)

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