Movie Review: Secretariat - An Inspiration to all Americans during the 70s

Overview

The real-to-reel account of SECRETARIAT centers on the life of an amazing horse, including its owner and the decadence of the early 70s.

It is an impossible but amazing story that's full of heart and inspiration featuring a simple housewife who risked everything in order to save her father's legacy.

How people of the late 60s and early 70s coped up with the emergence of Secretariat, it is neatly narrated and acted in the movie with seasoned Hollywood actors/actresses.

I would say that if Americans were inspired by an incredible horse like Secretariat, maybe Filipinos will also be able to have the same feeling that can change the lives of the less privileged this coming year or the next decade perhaps.

The title logo "Secretariat" released by Walt Disney Films, 2011 (Photo by Travel Man from the movie)
The title logo "Secretariat" released by Walt Disney Films, 2011 (Photo by Travel Man from the movie)
Helen Bates "Penny" Chenery Tweedy (born January 27, 1922) (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat"
Helen Bates "Penny" Chenery Tweedy (born January 27, 1922) (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat"
The reel Mrs. Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat")
The reel Mrs. Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat")
John Malkovich as Mr. Lucien Laurin (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat")
John Malkovich as Mr. Lucien Laurin (Photo by Travel Man from the movie "Secretariat")
Mr. Phipps (left) with Mr. Hancock (right) during the toss coin (Photo by Travel Man from the movie Secretariat)
Mr. Phipps (left) with Mr. Hancock (right) during the toss coin (Photo by Travel Man from the movie Secretariat)
Eddie Sweat and Secretariat -in the movie (Photo by Travel Man)
Eddie Sweat and Secretariat -in the movie (Photo by Travel Man)
Ronnie Tulcotte in the movie Secretariat (Photo by Travel Man)
Ronnie Tulcotte in the movie Secretariat (Photo by Travel Man)
Mrs. Penny's family in the movie, with husband Jack and four children (Photo by Travel Man in the movie "Secretariat")
Mrs. Penny's family in the movie, with husband Jack and four children (Photo by Travel Man in the movie "Secretariat")

The real story behind Secretariat

The name Mrs. Penny Chenery Tweedy (starred by Diane Lane) came into the limelight in the early 70s as she handled her father's dwindling ranch in Doswell, Virginia.

The death of her mother was a turning event in 1969 as her family drove back to the Chenery ranch in Virginia. She learned that her father was already suffering from dementia that he weren't able to maintain the family business. Good thing, her father's secretary, Ms. Elizabeth Ham stayed all her life there in the stable, helping Ms. Penny stabilize the situation in the ranch.

Her brother, Hollis Chenery (Dylan Baker), who's an economic professor in Harvard University urged her to sell the ranch that was already in the brink of bankruptcy due to $6 million dollar inheritance tax, which she declined to do.

Penny had to sacrifice her family back in Denver as she dabbled her time in Virginia running the family stable.

She bravely went to the local gentlemen's club in order to encourage investors and shareholders to help her rebuild her father's business, that is, horse breeding and horse racing, as well.

A memorable toss coin featured a very rich man in the state, Mr. Phipps (James Cromwell) whom her father got a transaction with, choosing the foal of Hasty Matilda over the offspring of Bold Ruler. Now came the young horse, under the bloodline of Something Royal, that will be the legendary racehorse of the 70s and the generations to come.

That is SECRETARIAT. Ms. Ham coined the name as the horse was popularly called Big Red by its fans, his handler/caretaker Eddie Sweat, his jockey Ronnie Turcotte and veteran horse trainer, Mr. Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), a French-Canadian who set aside his golfing spree and concentrated on the grooming and making of a champion.

Her husband, Jack Tweedy (Dylan Walsh), a lawyer, acted as the responsible husband to her two grown-up daughters and two younger brothers. There were times that he will ask her wife about who really is Penny Chenery and Penny Tweedy. A sense of jealousy was always at bay,although the word divorce was never mentioned in the story.

Jack's housewife, who was often mocked by fellow horse breeder and owners in the racetrack about her staying power in the business, was set to become the face of a modern American women who can equal or even surpass their men's accomplishments.

And so, the rest will be history.

Secretariat's accomplishments:

  1. Initial race at the Aqueduct Racetrack, New York (July 4, 1972) for two-year old Secretariat saw a disastrous result, due to the jockey's performance.
  2. The perennial jockey, Ronnie Turcotte, helped Secretariat its's succeeding races, recording seven wins in just four months! Critics questioned the durability and strength of this super horse, though.
  3. May 19, 1973 brought American people at the race track of Belmont, Kentucky -dubbed as the graveyard of race track-just to witness Secretariat with its unequaled performance to date, winning the most coveted Triple Crown since 1948.

Note: In 37 years, since Secretariat won the Triple Crown, hiw winning time in the Belmont Stake and his margin of victory have never been approached.

  • Mr. Lucien Laurin retired in 1976 and never played golf ever since. He also burned the clippings of his race track defeats. Thanks to Secretariat.
  • Ms. Elizabeth Ham lived at the ripe age of 94 and was responsible in naming the winningest horse of the century.
  • Eddie Sweat always called Secretariat as BIG RED.
  • Ronnie Turcotte met an accident in 1978 and was disabled due to spine injury but continued inspiring others in horse racing.
  • SECRETARIAT finished 1973 with four more wins and retired at Hancock Claiborne Farm in Kentucky and sired more than 600 foals.

And Mrs. Penny Chenery Tweedy? Well, I've seen her as part of the audience during the filming of the Triple Crown race scene in the movie!

She was able to regain her father's legacy as she retired happily in Colorado.

She still living today and you can follow her story on this link.


Secretariat Featurette Official (HD)

Words to live by from the movie "Secretariat"

A commendable team-up by Director Randall Wallace and movie writer Mike Rich caught the attention of Walt Disney Films to release this movie.

I could say that there's always a heart, inspiration in every Disney's movie, whether it's animated or true-to-life stories.

Secretariat is not an exception.

There are words and phrases that we should remember while watching this movie.

  1. Narration of Mrs. Penny during the opening of the movie - More than 3,000 years ago, a man named Job complained to God about all his troubles. God answered, "Do you give the horses drink? Do you cloth his nape with a flowing mare?Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror of his proud snoring? He paused fiercely, rejoicing in his strength and charges into the field. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing. He does not shy away from the sword, the quiver, the rattles against his side along with the flashy spears and lance. In his excitement, he eats up the ground. He cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds."
  2. Mr. Christopher Chenery told his daughter Penny - "It's not whether they think we won, it's wether we think we won. You ran your race, Penny."
  3. Hollis, Penny's brother said: "The farm has to go. We have to face the fact. Horse breeding needs a certain touch."
  4. Penny argued with his brother Thomas: "Our father came from nothing. His legacy to me is his will to win and live with it if you can."
  5. Ms. Elizabeth Ham to Mrs. Penny's detractors: " His name is Secretariat and he's gonna make your horse take dictation."
  6. Mrs. Penny to Mr. Laurin: " Don't ever say it's none of my business. Every bit of this is my business!"
  7. Mrs. Penny to Ronnie Tulcotte: "I heard you have the heart of a champion. My horse does. I don't want somebody else. I want you!"
  8. "Why did you chose me?" (asked by Mr. Laurin to Mrs. Penny): " I was hungry and so are you (for fame). I heard that you carry the clippings of the races that you lost."
  9. Penny to Secretariat before the Triple Crown race at Belmont Stakes, New York (June 9, 1973): "I realize something. I already won. I made it here. I didn't quit. I've ran my race. Now, you run yours."

These are some of the memorable dialogues that caught my attention from the movie Secretariat.

We can also apply it in our daily existence as we struggle to live harmoniously with this ever changing world.

Secretariat

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

earthbound1974 profile image

earthbound1974 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Amazing to know that there lived a horse named Secretariat. I applaud Ms. Penny for saving her father's legacy and owning a Triple Crown because of that amazing horse.

I must see the movie myself. Thanks for sharing this, TM!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@earthbound1974: You better believe it. Secretariat served as inspiration to many Americans during the 70s.

Until now, they can never forget the courage of that horse to unite people in the US during those turbulent times.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working