Blonde Comet (December 26, 1941)
Released on December 26, 1941: A beautiful young lady drives race cars and wins races all over Europe, but can she make the grade in the U.S.?
Directed by William Beaudine
Written by Phillip Juergens, Robin Daniels and Martin Mooney.
The Actors: Virginia Vale (Beverly Blake), Robert Kent (Jim Flynn), Barney Oldfield (himself), Vince Barnett (Curly), William Halligan (Cannonball Blake), Joey Ray (Red), Red Knight (Tex), Diana Hughes (Jennie).
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It is the day after Christmas in 1941 and the best way to get the guys out to the movie theater is to give them an action-packed race car adventure. Well, there is one more thing to add to the mix that will make this motion picture a sure hit at the movies . . . how about adding a cute young blonde girl as a driver . . . the first female driver ever on a race course. A lady race car driver? Get Real! It will never happen in real life, maybe in the movies, but never in real life! (Apologies to Danica Patrick and other lady drivers of today, I'm just getting us into a 1941 mindset).
This movie opens with scenes of the races in Europe, Italy, France and then Great Britain. The Blonde Comet is the rage of the race courses, bringing in respectible runnings at each track. Now she is headed for the U.S. race courses and will break the 'boys club' of male drivers racing their beasts around the oval race tracks. Now, there is a pretty good story plot with love, hate, man-fighting-man, racing mighty cars and all of the flavor of this manly sport in 1941, and I won't go into a lot of story detail, but even if you are not a Nascar fan or Indy fan today, you will surely enjoy this historic look at the sport in 1941. I will spend a moment, with your kind permission, to tell you a little about one of the actors in this racing thriller that you might not know.
Barney Oldfield plays the part of a Los Angeles car garage owner who supllies tires and other car parts to the drivers in the local race scene. That is his real name, Barney Oldfield, and he is a grand part of the history of racing automobiles. Barney was born in Ohio in 1878, and died in 1946, five years after this movie appearance. You probably remember that Ohio bicycle makers, the Wright brothers . . . well, Barney loved speed and just before the turn of the century he became a well-paid bicycle racer. At a race in Salt Lake City he met Henry Ford when he was riding a borrowed experimental gasoline engine powered bicycle. Ford was impressed with Oldfield and asked him to test drive one of his new automobiles at his Michigan Grosse Pointe track. Barney Oldfield had never driven one of the new augtomobiles yet, and on the day that Oldfield tried to test Henry Ford's cars, neither of them would start, despite every effort. Oldfield was still impressed with Henry Ford's race car, and bought it from Ford, even though it wouldn't run. In October, 1902 he raced this car and won the Manufacturer's Challenge Cup against automobile manufacturer and race car driver Alexander Winton. In 1898 Winton sold 24 cars that he made in his Cleveland, Ohio shop, and one of them was sold to James Ward Packard, who later decided to make his own automobiles in nearby Warren, Ohio, a few miles from where I currently live. But back to Oldfield, who was the first human to drive a car past 60 miles an hour. Yes, I know that today when you drive on a road with a speed limit of 45, almost everyone will pass you and be travelling much more than 60, but in those grand old days of the automobile pioneers, that was like breaking the sound barrier or passing the speed of light - it was an awesome and celebrated event.
But enough dry history, it is time for the thrills, chills and spills of the speed way, so pop a big bowl of white-kernel popcorn, grab a cold beverage of your choice, and enjoy racing thrills that will keep your heart pumping with excitement through this adventure with autos, and the Blonde Comet, as we watch racing and adventure that races to a grand finish at the Indianapolis Raceway 500 race.