To Please a Lady

Last updated
To Please a Lady
Poster - To Please a Lady 01.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Written byMarge Decker
Barré Lyndon
Produced byClarence Brown
Starring Clark Gable
Barbara Stanwyck
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Robert Kern
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 13, 1950 (1950-10-13)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.8 million [1]
Box office$2.9 million [1]

To Please a Lady is a 1950 American romance film produced and directed by Clarence Brown, and starring Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. The climactic race scene was shot at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.



Racing driver Mike Brannan has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to win. Powerful nationwide columnist Regina Forbes decides to interview Mike just before a race, and becomes annoyed when he is rather brusque with her. At the Newark track, Mike and popular competitor Joe Youghal fight for the lead. When a car they are about to lap crashes in front of them, Mike safely drives around it on the inside, forcing Joe to try to go outside. The result is a three car wreck in which Youghal is killed. In her column the next day, Regina blames Mike for Joe's death and brings up a prior racing fatality involving him. As a result, he is barred by nervous midget racing circuit managers anxious to avoid bad publicity.

Unable to race, Mike has to sell his midget racing car. He becomes a star stunt driver for Joie Chitwood, performing dangerous stunts at auto circuses for $100 a show. When Regina's editor, Gregg, updates her about Mike, she shows unexpected interest. She goes to see how Mike is doing. He tells her he has earned enough money to buy a Championship car of his own and enter the big leagues, where Regina has no influence. She provokes him into first slapping and then kissing her. She likes it, and they start seeing each other.

He is very successful on the racetrack, always finishing in the money; but the relationship between Mike and Regina is rocky. When a corrupt businessman Regina has been hounding is convicted and commits suicide rather than face 25 years in prison, she sees that she possesses some of the same ruthlessness that makes Mike so successful on the racetrack and better understands him, begins to love him, yet knows her doubts about whether his recklessness directly killed a man stands between them.

Brannan qualifies for the Indianapolis 500 at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During the race, at a key moment reminiscent of what happened at Newark with a wreck on the track, Mike waves a competitor through a gap big enough for only one of them. He attempts to go around the wreck on the grass, but his car flips and tumbles. He is rushed to the hospital, luckily with only minor injuries. Regina rushes to the track hospital, lets him know that she is proud of him, and declares her love for him.



The racing scenes were filmed at Carroll Speedway in Los Angeles. [2] Dirt track sequences were filmed at Arlington Downs in Texas. [2] Because Stanwyck was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for shooting of the film's final scenes, she was on hand in Victory Lane after the 1950 race to offer the real 500 winner, Johnnie Parsons, the traditional congratulatory kiss. [3] [ circular reference ]


According to MGM records, the film earned $2,061,000 in North America and $861,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $47,000. [1] [4]


In 1951, future 500 winner and four-time American National Champion, Mario Andretti saw the film as a young boy in his native Italy - where it was titled Indianapolis - an event which introduced him to the race for the first time. [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rodger Ward</span> American racing driver (1921–2004)

Rodger Morris Ward was an American racing driver best known for his open-wheel career. He is generally regarded as one of the finest drivers of his generation, and is best known for winning two National Championships, and two Indianapolis 500s, both in 1959 and 1962. He also won the AAA National Stock Car Championship in 1951.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1950 Indianapolis 500</span> Motor car race

The 34th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1950. The event was part of the 1950 AAA National Championship Trail. It was also race 3 of 7 in the 1950 World Championship of Drivers and paid points towards the World Championship. The event, however, did not attract any European Formula One drivers for 1950. Giuseppe Farina originally planned to enter, but his car never arrived. The Indianapolis 500 would be included on the World Championship calendar through 1960.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joie Chitwood</span> American racing driver (1912–1988)

George Rice Chitwood, nicknamed "Joie", was an American racecar driver and businessman. He is best known as a daredevil in the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show.

Melvin Eugene "Tony" Bettenhausen was an American racing driver known primarily for his open-wheel career. He twice won the National Championship, doing so in 1951 and 1958. He also competed in stock cars, winning under AAA and USAC sanction.

Mike Nazaruk was an American racecar driver. He raced midget cars, sprint cars, and IndyCars. He was nicknamed "Iron Mike."

John Ashley Thomson was an American racecar driver. Thomson was nicknamed "the Flying Scot." He won several championships in midgets and sprint cars before competing in Championship Car racing. He won the pole position for the 1959 Indianapolis 500.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jimmy Davies</span> American racing driver (1929–1966)

James Richard Davies was an American racecar driver in Champ cars and midgets. He was the second man to win three USAC National Midget Championships. When Davies won the 100-mile (160 km) AAA Championship race at Del Mar, California on November 6, 1949 – aged 20 years, 2 months, 29 days, he became the youngest driver to win a race in a major U.S. open wheel series, a record not broken until Marco Andretti won the IRL race at Sonoma, California in 2006. Davies raced AAA on a false birth certificate showing him older, and was racing illegally.

Willard Saulsbury "Bill" Holland was an American racing driver from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1949 and finished second in 1947, 1948 and 1950. He was runner up in the 1947 American Automobile Association (AAA) National Championship.

Henry Edwin Banks was an English-American racing driver. He competed in various disciplines of open-wheel motorsport. Banks is best remembered for winning the 1950 AAA National Championship, and for his later career as a USAC race official.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnnie Parsons</span> American racing driver (1918–1984)

John Woodrow "Johnnie" Parsons was an American racing driver in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series. He was the 1949 AAA national champion, and won the 1950 Indianapolis 500.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mel Kenyon</span>

Mel Kenyon is a former midget car driver. He is known as the "King of the Midgets", "Miraculous Mel" and "Champion of Midget Auto Racing." The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America says "Many consider him to be midget car racing's greatest driver ever."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rich Vogler</span> American racing driver (1950–1990)

Richard Frank Vogler was an American champion sprint car and midget car driver. He was nicknamed "Rapid Rich". He competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, and his best finish was eighth in 1989.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Langhorne Speedway</span> American auto racing venue

Langhorne Speedway was an automobile racetrack in Middletown Township, Bucks County, near the borough of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Philadelphia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pancho Carter</span> American racing driver (born 1950)

Duane Claude Carter Jr., nicknamed "Pancho," is an American retired open-wheel racing driver. Best known for his participation in Championship car racing, he won the pole position for the 1985 Indianapolis 500, and won the Michigan 500 in 1981.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnny Parsons</span> American racing driver

John Wayne Parsons is an American race car driver. He is the son of 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons. He drove Indy cars in the USAC National Championship, and also drove USAC championship dirt cars. Parsons made twelve starts at the Indianapolis 500, with a best finish of 5th in 1977 and 1985.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chris Economaki</span> American journalist (1920–2012)

Christopher Constantine Economaki was a pioneering American motorsports journalist, publisher, reporter, and commentator known as "The Dean of American Motorsports Journalism." Working for, and later owning, National Speed Sport News, Economaki helped encourage the growth of American motorsports from a niche endeavor to a mainstream pursuit.

The Indianapolis 500 auto race has been the subject for several motion pictures. It has also received countless references in television, film, commercials, books, and other media. The following is a list of such references.

Selinsgrove Speedway is a 0.5 mi (0.80 km) high-banked clay dirt oval south of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

Speedway History

Joie Chitwood III is Vice President of Corporate Development for the Arnold Palmer Group. He was formerly CEO of International Speedway Corporation, president of Daytona International Speedway, and prior to that president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is the grandson of former Indy 500 driver and businessman Joie Chitwood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Riverside International Speedway (West Memphis, Arkansas)</span> United States historic place

The Riverside International Speedway is an automobile racing facility at 151 Legion Road in West Memphis, Arkansas. Its facilities consist of a 0.25-mile (0.40 km) Gumbo clay oval with banked corners, bleacher seating on both straightaways. Amenities include a concession stand. The track was built in 1950 and opened June 10 of that year at an estimated cost of $150,000 by C L Montgomery, originally to showcase midget car racing. It has held a World of Outlaws race. The track is nicknamed "The Ditch".


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. 1 2 Hazelton, Lachlan (2021). Glimpse of Gable. A Biography. Penny Publishing. p. 197. ISBN   9780994589385.
  3. Wikipedia "1950 Indianapolis 500"
  4. "Top Grosses of 1950". Variety. January 3, 1951. p. 58.
  5. Oreovicz, John (2021). Indy Split: The Big Money Battle that Nearly Destroyed Indy Racing. Austin, TX: Octane Press. p. 365. ISBN   978-1-64234-056-3.