Home in Indiana

Home in Indiana is a 1944 Technicolor film directed by Henry Hathaway. The film, that stars Walter Brennan, Lon McCallister, Jeanne Crain, June Haver and Charlotte Greenwood, is based on the novel The Phantom Filly by George Agnew Chamberlain. The film was remade in 1957 as April Love.

Home in Indiana
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Produced byAndré Daven
Screenplay byWinston Miller
Based onThe Phantom Filly
1941 novel
by George Agnew Chamberlain
StarringWalter Brennan
Charlotte Greenwood
Ward Bond
Narrated byReed Hadley
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byHarmon Jones
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 15, 1944 (1944-06-15)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.75 million[1]

The movie was nominated for an Oscar in the category Best Cinematography, Color.


Having just been sent away to live with his uncle and aunt in Indiana, teenager Sparke Thornton (Lon McCallister) has a penchant for trouble. At first, he is not satisfied with the arrangement, and continues to express his rebellious behavior. Already on his first day, he plans on running away, but crossing a harness racing track convinces him to stay in Indiana. The owner, Godaw Boole (Charles Dingle) welcomes Sparke, and introduces him to Char Bruce (Jeanne Crain), a tomboyish girl who loves to race horses. A servant (George Reed) informs him that his uncle Thunder Bolt (Walter Brennan) was once part of harness horse racing as a respected sulky driver.

Returning home, Sparke informs his family about his love for horses, but Thunder orders him to put his focus on school instead. The next day, he ignores his uncle's demands and visits the racing track, where his instinctive rapport of a stallion impresses Godaw's seductive daughter, Cri-Cri (June Haver) who is home from private boarding school. She convinces Jed Bruce (Ward Bond) to help Sparke learn how to drive. Even though he performs poorly during his first trainings, Sparke is allowed to come back due to his humility. While bonding with Char and Cri-Cri, he learns how to successfully guide a harness horse.

One night, Thunder becomes drunk and reacts violently towards Sparke. Due to his confusion, Thunder's wife Penny (Charlotte Greenwood) explains that Thunder was once partners with Boole, until Boole's harsh treatment of a mare led to a quarrel. Thunder has retired from horseback riding ever since, but still feels an urge to return. Moved by the story, Sparke becomes desperate to help out his uncle and starts collecting documents that helps Thunder's only remaining horse with her delivery. Thunder is initially furious at Sparke for interfering, but he is grateful for the outcome.

Meanwhile, Sparke's growing infatuation with Cri-Cri causes him to shift away from the track regularly. Cri-Cri feels that he is too young to take seriously, though, and she prefers the attention of Gordon Bradley (Robert Condon). Sparke is not aware that Char is madly in love with him, and instead considers her as 'one of the guys'. Meanwhile, he continues to train the horse's foal, who, during her first race, is seriously injured. Shortly after her recovery, Sparke realizes how Char feels about him and responds to her love.

Thunder has since found out that the foal is going blind, but nevertheless allows Sparke to race her. Through determination and skills, he wins the race. Returning home with the horse, who has convinced Thunder to return to his business, Sparke kisses Char.



In November 1940, 20th Century Fox first announced its plans to shoot a film about trotting tracks, called Home in Indiana.[2] The film would serve as a follow-up for the horse tracking films Kentucky (1938) and Maryland (1940).[2] As with the latter film, John Payne, Walter Brennan and Fay Bainter were set to serve the lead roles, with Kenneth Macgowan as a producer and John Taintor Foote as the screenwriter.[2] Ultimately, Foote did work on a screenplay, but his work was not included in the final print.[2]

In March 1942, agent Charles K. Feldman planned on making a film adaptation of the Chamberlain novel, with Howard Hawks as a proposed producer.[2] Winston Miller worked on a screenplay, but he decided to sell its rights to 20th Century Fox.[2] Actor George Cleveland was offered a role, but commitments to another project forced him to resign.[2] The film marked the highly promoted debuts of both Jeanne Crain and June Haver. McCallister's contribution to the film delivered him a four-year contract with Fox.[3]

Scenes were partly filmed on the trotting tracks of Indiana, Marion, Ohio Marion County Fairgrounds and Kentucky.[4]:149

See also


  1. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 220
  2. "Notes for Home in Indiana (1944)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  3. "Pay Checks Bit Smaller This Time" by Virginia MacPherson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 18, 1944.
  4. Solomon, Aubrey; Thomas, Tony (1985). The Films of 20th Century Fox. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0958-9.
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