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The Red Pony

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The Red Pony is one of Hollywood's finest family films, one that does the genre the rare honor of creating fairly complex characters and emotional situations, and attempts to explore the same with honesty. The fact that it occasionally slips into melodrama mars its effectiveness, but these lapses are relatively few and ultimately do not detract from its overall power. John Steinbeck's screenplay is well constructed and features some flavorful dialogue, as well as a number of characters whose inability to connect or to interact with direct emotion is exploited to good effect. The writer has also provided a number of dramatically potent set piece scenes, including a disturbing death scene that is followed by an even more disturbing and enormously powerful battle between Tom and a vulture. Director Lewis Milestone captures this sequence beautifully, and displays a sure hand in capturing important nuances that help give a distinct flavor to the film. Robert Mitchum is perfectly cast as the man-of-few-words, Billy Buck, and Myrna Loy expertly employs her quiet reservoir of unstated emotions. Young Peter Miles handles the daunting role of Tom with amazing assurance and resourcefulness. Special notice must also be made of Aaron Copland's stirring, unforgettable score, as well as Tony Gaudio's flavorful cinematography. The Red Pony is an excellent film that bears repeated viewings. Craig Butler, All Movie Guide