Universal Production for TV
Adapted from the John Steinbeck novel "The Red Pony"
Maureen O'Hara, Henry Fonda
and Ben Johnson
Jack Elam, Julian Rivero, & Clint Howard as Jody
Victor Sen Yung
Sally Carter Ihant
Roy Jensen as Toby
Produced by Frederick Brogger
Teleplay by: Robert Totten & Ron Bishop
Directed by Robert Totten
"A classic novel comes to life. A special gift from father to son - a powerful lesson in life that helps a boy become a man. A heartfelt story." It saddens me that so few people have been able to see it. It was first aired in 1973, winning the coveted Peabody Award. When I began collecting Maureen's movies I just chanced to catch this one (and of course taped it) when the Disney Channel aired it a few years back. I feel that this role show-cases Maureen in her finest hour on the screen. The great stage and film actress Shirley Booth saw it and quickly got the message to Maureen that her performance in the scene where she talks to her son Jody about love and respect was one of the greatest she had ever seen. I feel in very good company, because that was immediately my favorite also. Take this fine cast of high caliber players and add a "perfect" soundtrack and you have a winner.
A struggling farmer, Henry Fonda, as Carl Tiflin, is a very strict and demanding parent to his only child, a son, named Jody. His wife, Ruth Tiflin, played by Maureen O'Hara, tries to maintain harmony between the men in her life. With veteran actor Jack Elam as Maureen's father, and Ben Johnson, as a friend and neighbor, the family circle soon embraces the that special gift to Jody from his father, a red pony. Lots of lessons to be learned by all in this familiar story by Steinbeck, but the tenderness and sensitivity of each character as they work through their own private conflicts comes together so beautifully and is a true compliment to the writers and the actors.
In this film Maureen is as always, most believable not only as a loving mother and wife, but at the age of 53, that almost startling beauty of her youth was now refined and seasoned. In the plain and drab dress of a poor farmer's wife, her beauty from within and her acting ability was at it's zenith.
I would like very much to learn who now owns the rights to this film so we could campaign to get it released on video. The theatrical movie, of course, is available on video. But this one...this is the one we need to see. So, if anyone out there has any information on this film...please let me know. Meantime I'll begin my research and see what I can come up with.
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