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Ruffian
Ruffian
Actors: Sam Shepard, Frank Whaley, Jason Douglas, Laura Bailey, Christine Belford
Genres: Drama, Television, Sports
UR     2007     1hr 29min

Academy Award nominee Sam Shepard stars in the extraordinary true story of the greatest filly racehorse of all time, RUFFIAN. Undefeated in her first ten races, Ruffian is fast on her way to becoming one of the most succes...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Sam Shepard, Frank Whaley, Jason Douglas, Laura Bailey, Christine Belford
Genres: Drama, Television, Sports
Sub-Genres: Drama, Television, Sports
Studio: ESPN Original Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/12/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Dark and beautiful...
Carin J. Reddig | Tehachapi, CA, USA | 06/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ruffian is perhaps the greatest racehorse of all-time. I have all of her races and have watched them repeatedly. It never gets any easier to watch the Great Match Race and this dramatization doesn't soften the blow AT ALL. The last thirty minutes of this film are incredibly difficult to watch. Horseracing is as dark as it is beautiful and Ruffian was the darkest and most beautiful of all.

This DVD includes some excellent bonus features including nearly all of her races in their entirety (including the Match Race), an interview with Nack, a documentary featuring Jane Schwartz, Frank Whiteley, Jacinto Vasquez and others, a tribute comparing Ruffian and Barbaro etc. Worth every penny and more."
Ruffian, Horse Racing, And The Decade Of The 1970s
Caren Goodrich | 06/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I heard they were making a film about Ruffian, my first reaction was that I didn't want to see it and relive the emotions I felt back in 1975 while watching the match race on TV.



But by the time the movie debuted on ABC, I decided to watch it and I'm glad I did. Seeing the movie helped put it back in perspective and made me remember the glory of Ruffian and not just the tragic ending.



If you are too young to remember 1975 or weren't born yet, please watch the movie to see the cultural significance of the "He vs. She" match race. It was an indelible part of the 1970s decade, coming on the heels of the 1973 Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Fisher tennis match, and the rise of Women's Lib.



There are a lot of other things about that tumultuous decade that we'd like to forget (such as polyester!), but in horse racing, it was the best decade of all. Three smashing Triple Crown winners in Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed; the rise of jockey Steve Cauthen as a household name; women jockeys breaking down the doors of the men-only club; plus Ruffian and other horse racing greats such as Spectacular Bid, Forego, and Alydar.



There are always inaccuracies that plague horse racing movies, and the Ruffian movie is no exception. Workout scenes show Ruffian alone with no other horses on the racetrack. I worked as an exercise rider for 20 years at Thoroughbred racetracks, and believe me, horses don't train alone. There are hundreds of horses on the track galloping and breezing during training hours, which really changes the dynamic of the scene.



The horse they used as Ruffian on the racetrack was a fairly decent representation of the real Ruffian, but the horse they used for the barn scenes looked like a Quarter horse, and just stood there like a nag. I'm sure it was for practical reasons, they needed a quiet horse to put up with all the filming, but I wish the barn-scene horse was more true to Ruffian's looks and personality. Ruffian was an extremely high spirited horse, she kicked up a fuss on a regular basis, and part of her allure and fame was due to her high voltage personality.



Even though in reality Bill Nack's character wasn't there for Ruffian's every move, I don't have an objection to him constantly being in and around the Whiteley barn as Bill Nack helped explain and drive the story. If the story was told from Frank Whiteley's perspective alone, it would have been a near-silent movie as he was cranky and didn't say much in real life.



In the 30+ years since Ruffian died, she has stood the test of time as an all-time great. Sports Illustrated included Ruffian as the only non-human on their list of the top 100 female athletes of the 20th century. The Blood Horse Magazine ranks her #35 in their top 100 racehorses of the century.



Real footage of Ruffian racing is shown at the end of the movie, it's a great addition as she truly was a dynamo. The inaccuracies I stated above don't detract that much from the real story, so I am giving it my top rating."
This Film Disappointed Me
Goodbye Cruel World | Under Your Skin | 07/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"If I said this movie was even adequate, I'd be lying. If I also suggested any film could ever be adequate as tribute to what Ruffian deserves, I'd be fibbing, so keep in mind I'm not the most impartial reviewer here.

Despite the inevitably tragic ending we all knew would come, I looked forward to this Ruffian bio-pic for many months, was glad the story of this great athlete was going to be told in tribute to her, and even urged people I know to watch it. Ultimately after seeing the film Ruffian back in June I felt let down and regretted sticking my neck out to be its cheerleader. Perhaps on the big screen, with a larger budget, flaws in this film would have been corrected, the races would have seemed more glorious and been given central billing in the plot, and the visuals would have done justice to the real footage we have of Ruffian leaving competitors behind in her dust.

As it was, while I have to admit filmmakers did their best and no doubt struggled within limitations of time and finances, I felt I was seeing a human interest story in which Ruffian was a background player. How long was the cumulative onscreen run-time of all her races? Two or three minutes out of two hours? Plus there were just too many inaccuracies to look away and let them go unnoticed. I won't point them out here because I don't want to dampen anyone else's viewing experience and know there are others who do like this film about thoroughbred racing's fastest filly (maybe fastest horse ever) but bear in mind both Ruffian's real life trainer Frank Whiteley, and her jockey Jacinto Vasquez, sued to stop this production. Both are on record as criticizing their portrayals and the facts as offered in the ABC movie, and that should tell you something right there.

I also must get it off my chest that the various geldings (and it was annoyingly obvious in a few scenes that these were male horses playing a female) who portrayed Ruffian failed to embody her. Yes, their coloration was right, as were the stars on their foreheads, but not one of the equine actors was anything like Ruffian's seventeen hands, and none came remotely close to displaying her build, which has frequently been cited for thirty years as proportionately perfect, the ideal for thoroughbreds, the standard for which breeders should aim. Ruffian had inner fire and spirited energy, and those horses were calm and dull. Was what we saw onscreen honestly the best casting could have done?

As I said earlier, I know the cast, crew, and everyone else who had a hand in putting this version of Ruffian's story on the screen did their best, but sometimes a person's best isn't good enough, particularly when this many lazy flaws were allowed to slip in uncorrected. This should have been entitled "The Story of the People Around Ruffian" because that's sure how it felt. Maybe someday we'll see a film that truly tells of Ruffian's brilliance.
"
The real Ruffian is not in this make-believe fluff.
Qatmom | Cincinnati, Ohio | 06/10/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Be warned. The historical Ruffian is not to be found in this movieland fluffery put together by people who didn't do their homework, who made up what they could not be bothered to portray accurately.

Movies hardly ever get horse racing right. Seabiscuit was the closest approach I have seen, but even that movie had problems. Ruffian is loaded with problems.

WHY WHY WHY do movies with racing invariably confabulate odd little human subplots that anyone with any knowledge of the sport knows are pure hokum? I do KNOW the sport, having raised, handled, and raced my own horses, and having written about the sport professionally. The actual history of Ruffian was compelling enough without the make-believe elements of this movie.

The horses used to portray the title character were some of the coarsest, plainest beasts imaginable. Ruffian--the real one--was a tall, nearly 17 hand filly, quite leggy and graceful. With all the cast-off TBs available for purchase on a per-pound meat price basis, couldn't at least one been found for close shots that did not look like a chunky pony???

I am sure that many people in racing would have cheerfully advised the movie's makers on details, gratis, just to be sure things were not gotten laughably wrong. The notion that Claiborne Farm, in the 1970s, shipped horses in a rusty beige trailer with "CF" on the side is silly. Claiborne was and is one of the last remaining family, multi-generational outfits, and has been involved not just with foaling and raising good horses, but in shaping and influencing the breed globally. It is not a marginal operation without presence or reputation. Go to the farm, and note that the gates, the (very large) water tower, the trim on the main stallion barn--are all painted Cadmium Yellow, the farm colors. Rusty beige trailers? Pulled by aged pickup trucks? I think not.

This was a FICTIONAL movie appropriating the name of a real filly, and beyond that, not much more. It was never really explained why Ruffian was extraordinary--the movie makers seemed confused between stakes record time and track record time--or that she had an average winning margin of 7 lengths after 10 races, or that there has never been anything like her since, and in what seems a glaring omission, there was no hint of all the advances in caring for catastrophic breakdowns since 1975. Foolish Pleasure's reputation was inflated beyond what it was at the time--he was a good 3-y-o, but not a great one, and he finished his days in obscurity, pasture-breeding mares somewhere out west.

Watch this howler as maudlin fiction, but be warned that it is fiction, and has not much to do with the real Ruffian or the real sport.

No wonder Frank Whiteley and Jacinto Vasquez sought to legally block the airing of this movie without adequate disclaimers.

"