Cast & Crew
Katherine De Mille
South of the Mexican border, Davey, a Chinese boy, is orphaned when his father, whom he only recently met, is killed by thieving white men. The boy is befriended by an Indian named Charley Eagle, whose father was also killed by white men. Charley enters his thoroughbred mare, Black Hope, in a race south of the border and is tricked by Dan Toland, a crooked American, into selling Black Hope to him after she wins the race. Charley returns Toland's money in the night, retrieves Black Hope and returns to his humble ranch in Oklahoma with Davey. Charley's wife Sarah, who is well-educated, insists that Davey attend school, but when the schoolboys tease him because of his yellow skin, Davey refuses to go. Finally, Sarah decides to adopt Davey, and he agrees to begin school. After an oilman gives the Eagles an advance for allowing him to drill on their land, Charley pays for a thoroughbred stud owned by Colonel Caldwell to impregnate Black Hope. The mare is unable to walk following the birth of her male colt, however, and Charley must shoot her. Within months, the Eagles strike oil, and Charley names the colt Black Gold. After the now-rich Charley is hit by a beam at the oil rig, he is forced to walk with a cane. Charley is nonetheless determined to win the Kentucky Derby and arranges for his old friend Buckey to train Black Gold, with Davey as his jockey. One day while training, Buckey's pet goat, Beautiful, crosses Black Gold's path on the racetrack, causing Davey to fall. He is not hurt, but Charley has a heart attack. Charley has often left Sarah unannounced when he has had a yen for the great outdoors, but now he leaves her for good to die alone. She, Davey and Black Gold visit Charley as he camps and hear his last words, "She won." At the Kentucky Derby, Black Gold competes with Toland's favored horse, Corsair, and wins. As Sarah accepts the gold cup from Colonel Caldwell on behalf of all Indians, she repeats her husband's dying words, "She won."
Katherine De Mille
H. T. Tsiang
B. Reaves Eason
E. R. Hickson
Agnes Christine Johnston
Edward J. Kay
A. J. Lohman
Laurence A. Russell
Nipo T. Strongheart
Colonel Matt J. Winn
Black Gold was the first film produced by Allied Artists, an offshoot of Monogram Pictures founded by producer Walter Mirisch, who wanted the Poverty Row studio to move out of B pictures into higher-grade productions. Although initially the movies produced under this banner were really just B+ pictures, as a mark of Mirisch's goals, this was the first Monogram film to be made in color. The production ran into some problems when shooting had to stop for two weeks due to a shutdown at the Cinecolor plant, but when the studio saw the early rushes, executives were impressed enough to increase the film's budget significantly, making it one of the most expensive films made by the studio to that point.
The end title of the picture reads: "Suggested by the winning of the 1924 Kentucky Derby by the horse Black Gold", the offspring of a promising horse owned by Native Americans Al and Rosa Hoots. According to legend, it was Al's deathbed wish that Rosa train Black Gold for a Kentucky Derby victory. The horse exceeded Al's wishes by capturing both the Kentucky and Louisiana Derby crowns, the only horse to do so until 1996. The widowed Rosa became the second woman to ever own a horse that raced to victory in the "Run for the Roses."
Background footage for the Black Gold production was filmed at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, home of the Kentucky Derby, at Hollywood Park racetrack in Los Angeles, and an unnamed track in Tijuana, Mexico. Other scenes were shot at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area near Chatsworth, California.
In mid-June 1947, American Indians from nine tribes were invited to attend a special screening of the film in Los Angeles, as well as a "powwow" at the Los Angeles Farmers Market, which was proclaimed a temporary "Indian reservation." To promote Black Gold, an Indian village with five teepees and twelve Indians was set up at a drugstore near Beverly Hills.
An April 1, 1946 blurb in the Hollywood Reporter noted that the colt that played the title horse, which Monogram purchased and named Black Gold, was born on the last weekend of March 1946.
At the time of the film's release, Quinn had been married for ten years to the woman who played his wife, Katherine DeMille, producer-director Cecil B. DeMille's adopted daughter. The couple had five children, the oldest of whom, still a toddler, drowned in the swimming pool of the Quinn's neighbor, W.C. Fields. Katherine DeMille quit acting in 1956, and this is the only film she and Quinn made together. They were divorced in 1965.
Reviewers weren't particularly kind when Black Gold was released except to note an excellent performance by Quinn, one of many in a long and prolific career that would last until his death in 2001 and garner him two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and two nominations for Best Actor.
Besides Quinn, the most impressive credentials on Black Gold belong to director Phil Karlson. Although at the time of this production still only a lower echelon director earning $250 a week at a minor studio, Karlson would go on to much critical success in the 1950s with a series of realistic, violent crime films: Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953), and The Phenix City Story (1955). Despite the acclaim for this work, Karlson never really achieved great commercial success until his penultimate film, Walking Tall (1973), a big box office hit and, because he owned a large part of it, the movie made him a wealthy man.
Director: Phil Karlson Producer: Jeffrey Bernerd
Screenplay: Agnes Christine Johnston, story by Caryl Coleman
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Editing: Roy Livingston
Art Direction: E.R. Hickson, Dave Milton
Original Music: Laurence S. Russell
Cast: Anthony Quinn (Charley Eagle), Katherine DeMille (Sarah Eagle), "Ducky" Louie (Davey), Raymond Hatton (Bucky), Thurston Hall (Colonel Caldwell)
by Rob Nixon
He's the biggest unhung crook south of the border.- Bucky
Hello, Charley. Your dinner is on the table.- Sarah Eagle
How come you always know when I'm coming home?- Charley Eagle
Maybe I hear it on the wind.- Sarah Eagle
For the first time I wish I were a white woman.- Sarah Eagle
Why?- Charley Eagle
So I could cry.- Sarah Eagle
I want to thank everyone who is here and one who is not. Chi-hua-hua!- Sarah Eagle
This was the first Monogram film made in color. Contemporary reviews note that the film was based on the real-life adventures of Black Gold, the longshot winner of the 1924 Kentucky Derby. Hollywood Reporter news items provide the following information about the production: Some background footage was filmed at the Kentucky Derby race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, on May 4, 1946, and at a Tijuana racetrack. Other scenes were shot at Vasquez Rocks, in Chatsworth, CA, and Hollywood Park, in Los Angeles. A April 1, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that because the black colt that played "Black Gold," which Monogram purchased and named Black Gold, was born on the last weekend of March 1946, the film would take almost a year to complete. In November 1946, principal photography was delayed for two weeks because of a shutdown at the Cinecolor plant. After seeing some of the dailies, Monogram increased the film's budget to $100,000. Clem McCarthy, a professional racetrack commentator, was assigned to make a special trailer for the film in May 1947. In mid-June 1947, American Indians from nine tribes were invited to attend a special screening of the film in Los Angeles, as well as a "powwow" at Farmer's Market, which was proclaimed a temporary "Indian reservation." To promote the film in Los Angeles, an Indian village with five teepees and twelve Indians was set up at a drugstore near Beverly Hills. Hollywood Reporter news items list Harry Woods, Carmen D'Antonio and Bob Patten as cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Anthony Quinn and Katherine De Mille were married at the time of this production. Black Gold marked the only time they appeared on screen together. They divorced in 1965.