Let It Ride (Joe Pytka, 1989)
[originally posted 16Oct2000]
I hate Richard Dreyfuss. I have always hated Richard Dreyfuss. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but so it goes. [ed. note 2013: this has changed somewhat, thanks in no small part to this movie, viz. my recent review of Inserts, for example.] Of course, my theory that every bad actor gets one good role is well-known about these parts, and lo and behold, I have found Dreyfuss’.
Dreyfuss plays Charlie Trotter, a long time track veteran of whom hundreds can be found at any track in America (in this case, Hialeah is the culprit). He’s given a wonderful ensemble cast, from his deadbeat sidekick Looney (David Johansen) to his fed-up wife (Teri Garr) to the vapid girlfriend of a high roller who latches onto him (Jennifer Tilly), along with dozens more. Trotter, usually a loser through and through, has a good day. A really good day. He racks fifty bucks up to sixty-four thousand by the film’s final scenes (telling you about the last race would be a crime against nature if you’ve not seen the film).
The horse photography is decent, and it’s always nice to see a film that portrays track life at all, but what really makes this fly is the obvious love the characters have for the life, and the accuracy that went into them. Jay Cronley, who wrote the novel upon which this film is based, obviously knows his stuff inside and out. The characters are sharp, funny, and enjoyable. The track setting is just icing on the cake; they’d be sharp, funny, and enjoyable no matter where you set them down. A thoroughly easy film to like. One wonders why Pytka didn’t direct his next film for seven years (and why it had to be, of all things, Space Jam). ****
BONUS VIDEO! Because I never get a chance to pimp this: my favorite horse racing movie of all time, a short called Silent Rain in the Ninth.