A new motor-racing film, “Blonde Comet,” probably the last we shall see until the end of the war, is now going round the cinemas of the country. It is very short.
The film opens with newspaper headlines announcing that an intrepid girl driver, known as the Blonde Comet, is returning to the States after winning two European Grands Prix. We are then introduced to her driving her estate-car with the racer on a trailer (all very dirt-track to look at and not at all European Grand Prix) and accompanied by her only visible staff throughout the film, a large blonde Swedish girl secretary.
After a refreshing encounter with the hero, who has closed two miles of the main highway and is testing his racing car on it, the two appear in a race at Ascot Speedway. This is described on the poster as 100 laps and 100 miles, but this changes to 500 miles in the subsequent loudspeaker commentary and dialogue. Here news-reel shots of a large number of hair-raising crashes are introduced. It is easy to tell when they are coming, as the photographic quality of the film changes suddenly to harsh, grainy, news-reel style and then goes back to normal after the crash. Apart from a few towed shots of the cars of hero and heroine, it is doubtful if any of the rest of the film was staged specially for the production, and in the long shots of cars racing it is never possible to identify those of the leading players because they are not there! Barney Oldfield appears as motor-racing’s Sid Walker, with a heart of gold and a travelling shop full of plugs and tyres, which he gives away to deserving cases, while dunning the tough guys for their outstanding accounts.
From Ascot we go to what is billed as the 36th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. As the race of last year was the 31st of the series it will be seen that the film dips into the future. Here the Blonde Comet fits the hero’s father’s new carburetter, unbeknown to said hero, and gives up her car to him in the last few laps to leave him to win the race. It is all very naive.
There are strange scenes at the pits including a refuelling stop in which the filler-cap has to be unsealed before opening – probably a relic of the fuel-restriction period of some ten years ago at Indianapolis. News-reel shots are freely used once more and all the crashes of a decade are crammed into the condensed record of this one race. Occasionally the track becomes changed to a dirt surface when animated shots of the stands are required! The cars also vary in type. The hero and heroine drive single-seater dirt-track machines, while the rest of the field have typical Indianapolis cars of a few years ago, mostly 2-seaters of pre-1938 type, as run before the race went on to A.I.A.C.R. rules and riding-mechanics forsook their suicidal calling. This is especially noticeable in the crashes, where in a number of cases two men are thrown from one car.
The film, made last year by Producers’ Releasing Corporation and distributed by Pathé, is directed by William Beaudine, stars Virginia Vale and Robert Kent, and was photographed by Mervyn Freeman, who also acted as co-producer. – E.S.T.