The original poster for this movie apparently said "Fast Horses and Beautiful Women," and I suppose if you want to look on the brightest side and categorize the 1947 melodrama That's My Man that way, it's not entirely false advertising. There is horse racing, and a couple of lovely ladies, but if that line somehow strikes at your demographic, you're probably going to be disappointed.
That's My Man is another late 1940s effort by Frank Borzage, whose movies I have been enduring as of late. As seems to be the norm for the director during this period, he has cobbled together a thoroughly average film, made with skill and accomplishment, but devoid of any real spark. This time around, he corrals the generally likable Don Ameche (Girl Trouble) to play Joe Grange, a hard-luck type who decides to break out of his normal life and take a shot at being a horse trainer. He has a colt he's dubbed Gallant Man, and once he gets this steed in a race, Joe knows things will turn around. On his way up, Joe meets Ronnie (Catherine McCleod, I've Always Loved You), a drugstore clerk who is game to go along. After Gallant Man's first race, they will be married.
Naturally, the no-hope horse wins that initial derby, and things seem to be off to a galloping start. Only, Joe has a gambling problem, and despite his promises to settle down after the marriage, and then again after the couple have their son, he never can get the habit under control. He throws everything away, and it requires desperate measures on Ronnie's part to get him back.
Ho-hum. I really wanted to like That's My Man. The film starts strong, with an amusing "meet cute" involving the baby horse and a taxi cab. In those early scenes, we want to like Joe the Dreamer as much as Ronnie does, but after Gallant Man's debut and victory, the movie pretty much flattens out. Borzage does a couple of laps around the same track, letting Joe make and break another promise, and then we're done. Most of what happens is predictable, including Gallant Man's further prospects as a champion. For a movie like That's My Man to have its racing work, we need to buy into the whole illusion or we'll never convince ourselves that Gallant Man has a chance at any other outcome than winning.
But let's face it, the horse is going to take the crown and the girl is going to get her man. Don Ameche makes for an okay heavy, he just can't be too heavy, he's too charming. I will say, Catherine McLeod is much better here than she was in I've Always Loved You. Though little more than a poor man's Gene Tierney, she actually can be quite fun to watch when she cuts loose and doesn't have to be a sourpuss the whole time.
It's all too little and nowhere near enough, however; the rest of That's My Man lacks any threat or magnetism. Like a horse race, it just goes round and round until the time runs out and it's over.
Presented in full frame (1.37:1) and black-and-white, That's My Man is decent looking, with a mostly clear picture and all right resolution. Some print damage creeps in from time to time, but overall the image is clear and the grain is handled delicately.
The original audio is remastered in mono and is free of any noticeable issues.
The original trailer
Rent It. Neither good nor bad, That's My Man lazily strolls down the center lane, hitting certain melodramatic buttons, but never leaning on them too heavily. Don Ameche is a fine lead, and Catherine McLeod shows potential, but Frank Borzage's 1947 horse race story is otherwise as blandly competent as they come.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.