The Red Pony

  • 1949
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Stories about "a boy and his pet" have always been marvelous fodder for Hollywood's cannons. From THE YEARLING to THE RED STALLION to BLACK BEAUTY to THE BLACK STALLION to LASSIE, the sight of a young child and his love for his animal has usually rung the cash register. So it was with THE RED PONY, which did well enough at the box office to be re-released...read more

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Stories about "a boy and his pet" have always been marvelous fodder for Hollywood's cannons. From THE YEARLING to THE RED STALLION to BLACK BEAUTY to THE BLACK STALLION to LASSIE, the sight of a young child and his love for his animal has usually rung the cash register. So it was with

THE RED PONY, which did well enough at the box office to be re-released in 1957 and inspire a TV movie in 1972 that starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. The story was written by Steinbeck (who also wrote the script), and it was a compressing of three tales, "The Gift," "The Leader of the

People," and "The Promise." Mitchum's character appeared only in the final story but is used as the protagonist, a la SHANE, throughout. Mitchum was signed to Howard Hughes, who lent him to Feldman and Milestone for this picture; their choice was a good one since Mitchum embodied the laconic,

man-of-few-words role perfectly. Mitchum is a ranch hand on the spread owned by Strudwick and Loy. Miles, their son, idolizes Mitchum the way Brandon de Wilde idolized Alan Ladd in SHANE. Miles has a small red pony and spends most of his time training it with Mitchum's help. Strudwick is out of

his milieu here. He's a onetime schoolteacher not accustomed to life in the slow lane and he is angry that Miles looks up to Mitchum with such adoration. Calhern is Loy's father, an old man who lives in memory and tells tall tales of how he brought people to the West years ago. Strudwick gives the

old man as hard a time as he can without alienating Loy. Strudwick takes a short trip and the pony gets out of its pen when frightened by a storm. Miles thinks it's all Mitchum's fault when the horse gets very sick and dies. Loy, sensing that there's a huge problem with the boy, sends for

Strudwick, who is happy to be asked to help in the crisis and feels a lot better about ranching now that he's gotten closer to his son. Mitchum has a mare that's about to foal, and when the colt is born, Mitchum gives the spindly legged animal to Miles, who again loves Mitchum. The two men are

happy that the boy is happy and the picture ends. More for the kids than anyone else, this gentle story was well shot by Gaudio, although slowly directed by Milestone. Aaron Copland wrote the stirring score, one of very few he did for films.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Stories about "a boy and his pet" have always been marvelous fodder for Hollywood's cannons. From THE YEARLING to THE RED STALLION to BLACK BEAUTY to THE BLACK STALLION to LASSIE, the sight of a young child and his love for his animal has usually rung the… (more)

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