By David G. Firestone
Directed by William Beaudine, Arthur Hammons, Tiny Hamberger and written by Philip Juergens, Robin Daniels, and Martin Mooney, Blonde Comet was released in 1941. The movie starts Virginia Vale as Beverly Blake, the daughter of the owner of the owner of a tire company, and Robert Kent as Robert Flynn, a racer who wants to make a more powerful carburetor.
Beverly Blake, nicknamed “Blonde Comet” races all over the world, and has a lot of success. It should be noted that due to World War II, this is set a few years prior. The first sequence is a series of races where Beverly is supposedly racing, but she isn’t actually seen in a car in most of these shots. An interesting detail is that the announcers are speaking the native language, as opposed to English.
The scene shifts to a racing garage, where a race car is being worked on, with the two mechanics, Curley and Robert have a sexist argument, and the character of Tex is introduced. The conversation focuses on Tex’s lack of experience behind the wheel of a race car. Jimmy then takes the car out, has the road blocked off, and tests the car. Beverly sees the road block, takes her car on a dirt road, and sees Jimmy’s car, turns around, kicks down the barricade, and drives through.
Jimmy finishes his run, turns around, and starts a second run, heading for Beverly. The two drivers meet, and a brief argument ensues. It’s interesting that while Blonde Comet is painted on the side of her car, Jimmy has to look at the race car being towed to figure out who she is. She drives through a second barricade, and the scene shifts to Southern Ascot Speedway.
Jimmy’s crew works on the race car, whereas Beverly works on her hair. The desire for some pop leads to a conversation between the two teams. After a nonsense scene involving speaking Swedish, Curley and Beverly have an awkward conversation. Tex buys some equipment from Barney Oldfield, in a cameo. Jimmy tells Barney he has a new carburetor which uses less fuel, without losing speed. Barney Oldfield’s acting isn’t great.
The announcer states that all drivers should meet for a driver meeting. At the meeting, Beverly talks with some of the other drivers, who aren’t thrilled she is there. The track announcer gets the drivers and spectators ready for the race. The race starts, and the announcer decides that rather than actually call the race, he will give biographical information.
As the race wears on, the announcer taps out for a while. Cars get spun out, but the race continues. My major issue with this scene is that it’s never established which characters are racing which numbers, so it’s impossible to figure out what is going on. The lack of announcers for large portions of the scene doesn’t help at all. Tex gets in a wreck, and is badly injured, eventually dying. Beverly goes on to win the race, Jimmy finishes second. Jimmy punches the driver who wrecked Tex, and Beverly suddenly falls in love.
The scene shifts to Jimmy’s garage, where Barney pledges $25 to help ship Tex’s body home. Beverly meets Barney and gives her back story. Barney gives Beverly his $25, and Beverly drives to Jimmy’s garage, gives Jimmy the $25, and the rest of the money needed. Beverly drives to the next race, a 500 miler at a 1 mile track. After a group photo, Jimmy and Beverly flirt before the race starts, but once the green flag drops, the race starts.
Unlike the last race, since Beverly and Jimmy car numbers have become clear, the race is somewhat easier to follow, granted that there is no announcers here. Blonde Comet takes the lead. After some humor with a chalk board, Jimmy ends up in second place, behind Beverly. As the race winds down, Jimmy takes the lead, while Beverly is in third, behind Red Stewart. With four laps to go, there is are some serious wrecks, and eventually, Jim wins, and Beverly comes in second. After the race, it’s revealed that Red Stewart was killed in the wreck. It’s revealed that Beverly is going to Indianapolis.
Beverly, Barney, and Cannonball Blake, Beverly’s father have a meeting where they discuss adding one of Jim’s carburetors in her car, but asks that the installation a secret. At the Indianapolis 500, both Jim and Beverly qualify for the race. There is added tension, because the government is interested in Jim’s carburetor design, though only if one of the cars with the carburetors wins.
The race starts out slow, but at the halfway point, Jim gets in a wreck, due to a bad tire. Beverly pulls out, feigning exhaustion, but demands that Jim take over. Jim goes on to win the race, and at the victory celebration, the toast is to carburetors and tires. Beverly and Jim get engaged, and the movie ends.
After watching this, I’m going to give this movie a B+. The racing is good, the story is good, and the characters are realistic. Unlike The Racing Strain, there is no over the top plot twist, which is good. Also, unlike The Racing Strain, there is no real antagonist, which isn’t so great. I would love for there to be a dedicated villain who is openly opposing Beverly and Jim, but it doesn’t happen. A decent racing movie, but not a great one.