The Big Wheel (1949)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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as Billy Coy
as Arthur 'Red' Stanley
as Vic Sullivan
as Louise Riley
as Mrs. Mary Coy
as Dolores Raymond
as Reno Riley
as Reno Riley
Critic Reviews for The Big Wheel
Audience Reviews for The Big Wheel
The first picture of Mickey's decline from stardom after the previous year's Words and Music where his terrible performance pretty much ended his tenure at MGM. It's fitting that it's a racing movie because it's a skid picture for the Mick without question. After years of the plush surroundings at Metro this low budget loser must have come as a rude shock. He's overly earnest as was typical of his starring career which was endurable in parts where he was the brash teenage Andy Hardy and similar roles but as he aged became arch and annoying. The story is standard cocky hothead knocked down a few pegs until his learns the necessary life lessons junk but if you're a race fan and don't mind the obvious rear projection shots it a certain entertainment value. What's great about these old Hollywood films is that even in an economy production like this the film is full of quality character actors who had more latitude in moving between studios, genres and types of productions. This one has a supporting cast better than it deserves with three greats in the cast, Spring Byington, Thomas Mitchell and in a small part Hattie McDaniel, this was her last theatrical feature.
If you have no interest in the auto racing of bygone days, The Big Wheel probably won't do much for you. In 2012 it constitutes a niche film most noteworthy for its historically accurate portrayal of American open-wheel racing in the late 40s. But if that subject interests you, The Big Wheel is a must see. The film effectively portrays the drama and danger of racing in that era, as well as the rough-and-ready characters who confronted its hazards in order to obtain gold and glory. The Big Wheel, through lead character Billy Coy's mother, also shows the torment that plagued racing wives and mothers. All in all, The Big Wheel is a valuable lens onto a fascinating aspect of American history that is rapidly disappearing down the memory hole.
NIFTY LITTLE B MOVIE, WITH A GOOD CAST. MICKEY ROONEY, SPRING BYINGTON AND THOMAS MITCHELL DO A GOOD JOB. HATTIE MC DANIEL HAS A SMALL BUT FUN ROLE. THE STORY IS ABOUT RACE CAR DRIVING.
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