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Monday, October 3, 2016

The Red Pony (1949)

Unable to bond with his rather stern father (Shepperd Strudwick), a young boy (Peter Miles) has formed an attachment to a ranch hand (Robert Mitchum) as a father figure. In an attempt to bridge the gap with his son, the father gives the boy a red pony to raise. The experience will be painful but it will be a step in the boy's road to maturity. Based on the episodic novel by John Steinbeck who uses two of the chapters for the basis of his screenplay and directed by Lewis Milestone (ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT). Though the film is given a happier ending than the book (for which I, for one, am grateful), like THE YEARLING and NATIONAL VELVET, this is a simple and gentle tale of the special bond that children have with their pet animals and which adults don't (or have forgotten) quite grasp. Milestone has directed the film in a tranquil style which allows the random events to move naturally. Beautifully shot in three strip Technicolor by Tony Gaudio (ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) and with a gorgeous score by Aaron Copland, who turned it into a concert suite and thus more people have probably heard his score to the film than actually seen the movie. With Myrna Loy, Louis Calhern, Margaret Hamilton and Beau Bridges.

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