5.7/10
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19 user 2 critic

The Big Wheel (1949)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 4 November 1949 (USA)
A brash young midget car race driver lives in the shadow of his famous father, a drunken womanizer, who was killed in an accident years earlier.

Director:

Edward Ludwig

Writer:

Robert Smith (original screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Rooney ... Billy Coy
Thomas Mitchell ... Red Stanley
Michael O'Shea ... Vic Sullivan
Mary Hatcher ... Lou Riley
Spring Byington ... Mary Coy
Steve Brodie ... Happy Lee
Lina Romay ... Dolores Raymond
Hattie McDaniel ... Minnie (as Hattie McDaniels)
Allen Jenkins ... George
Monte Blue ... Deacon Jones
Richard Lane ... Reno Riley (as Dick Lane)
Eddie Kane Eddie Kane ... Head Waiter
Charles Irwin Charles Irwin ... Drunk
Kippee Valez Kippee Valez ... Carla
Denver Pyle ... Doctor
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Storyline

Billy Coy comes to Carrell. His late father's mechanic Red hires Billy as a mechanic. Soon, Billy gets a job as a driver. Written by Daniel Ljungberg <meen@df.lth.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's restless, reckless ROONEY in the most exciting thrill-a-minute role of his career! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance | Sport

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thundering Wheels See more »

Filming Locations:

Culver City, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the 33rd running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1949, Wilbur Shaw, the President of the Speedway, actually did drive the pace car, as the movie announcer had noted. See more »

Goofs

During qualifying in Billy Coy's first race in the hot rod, there is a substance (sand or oil dry) on the track surface, in turn one, during his warm-up lap, and during his first green flag lap. During the next 2 laps, turn one no long has the substance on it, but after Billy receives the checkered flag, the substance is back on the track, and tire tracks can be seen going through the substance. See more »

Quotes

[Reno gives his tomboy daughter a wad of cash to buy her first dress]
Vic Sullivan: I wish you could be that generous with me!
Reno Riley: You'd look nice in a dress.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film opens with the following written acknowledgements: "Grateful acknowledgement for their invaluable assistance is made to the AAA, the URA, the Racing Drivers of America, the Indianapolis Speedway and Mr. Wilbur Shaw." See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Pickers: What Happens in Sturgis... (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Que Bueno
Written by Kermit Goell and Fred Spielman
Sung by Lina Romay at nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

Good Character For Rooney, Good Atmosphere
28 November 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

Mickey Rooney gets a character well-suited to his abilities, and the good atmosphere at garages and auto racing tracks also helps make this a solid B-melodrama. The story follows a familiar pattern, but the setting is different enough to make it interesting.

Rooney plays the son of a race driver who wants to establish a racing career of his own. The character goes through a number of changes as his fortunes ebb and flow, and Rooney makes him believable at each stage. He had the ability to be sympathetic when necessary, and he also had the knack of making a character turn abrasive in a believable fashion. Here, it helps to flesh out a familiar plot.

Most of the other characters are one-dimensional, and are only there to give Rooney something to play off of. An exception is Thomas Mitchell, whose skill at playing seemingly simple roles makes the garage owner into a believable character in his own right.

The auto racing settings are interesting, and although the racing sequences rely on stock footage, they are still enjoyable. The story takes Rooney's character from hot rods to midget racers to the Indianapolis-style cars. It was set in what was then the present, and race fans in its audiences probably could have spotted some familiar cars. Now, it is also of interest as a decent recreation of the Indy racers of its day.


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