Watch movie characters WatcH Casey's Shadow OnLiNe ROLLINgstonE. An interesting blip on Matthau's resume is this family-oriented character study, which concerns a single father striving to make a mark in the horse racing industry. He plays a man with three sons who barely scrapes by as a boarder and trainer of racing steeds. When his eldest son Rubin makes a questionable purchase for a friend of theirs, he makes amends by raising and training the horse's well-bred offspring in exchange for partial, temporary ownership of him. Rubin trains the horses, middle son Burns is a jockey who rides him and little tyke Hershewe loves and nurtures him (when he isn't accidentally overworking him or putting him in some other danger! As the promise of the title creature begins to shine through, both seedy, fat cat owner Hamilton and no-nonsense, top-notch breeder Smith make overtures with regards to buying him. However, Matthau, despite the hefty offers, is bent on having himself a winner just once in his life, no matter the cost. Matthau is slightly miscast as a Louisiana Cajun, but sinks into his role the best he can and uses his considerable talent to overcome most of its hurdles. Smith, a woman who dripped austere class in almost every role, adds a dash of taste and prestige to the proceedings. Webber, who plays Hamilton's second-in-command, does a decent job while Hamilton is enjoyably slimy, as he often was in films. (Note, however, how Webber takes a beating, his face pummeled - literally - into the ground and yet the following day he is perfectly fine! If the three sons seem a bit disjointed from one another, apart from not really being related of course, it could have to do with the fact that there are at least 10 years in age between each of them! Rubin was 32 at the time. He runs hot and cold, sometimes coming off effectively and other times appearing a bit high! He does wear some interestingly faded jeans, though. Burns has less to do, but is fine. Hershewe manages to stay pretty appealing despite the sometimes annoying and idiotic things his character is compelled to do. Bissell (in his last feature film) does a nice job as a veterinarian. One of the first in a wave of boy & horse flicks to hit theaters in the late 70's ( The Champ" and "The Black Stallion" were around the corner) this is compelling, but also a little confounding. Despite being aimed at children, it contains a hefty helping of foul language (Matthau's nickname is "Coonass. and a very graphic scene of horse birth along with plenty of boozing and squabbling. While it's refreshing in this day of homogenized, generic, CGI-infested, brand name mongering JUNK to look back and see what children were expected to watch, it may still not be a film that all parents will find suitable (or that children will find particularly interesting! A wealth of location shooting and use of authentic extras help lend a feeling of verisimilitude to the movie. The music ranges from effective to fairly agonizing (the title song, among others, providing "flavorful" noise.) Fans of Matthau or of horse racing will likely find this more tolerable than others.
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