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Fox Home Entertainment presents
My Friend Flicka (1943)

"I'm counting on you to make a good pony out of that colt, and let it make a man out of you."
- Rob McLaughlin (Preston Foster)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 30, 2003

Stars: Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, Rita Johnson
Other Stars: James Bell, Diana Hale, Jeff Corey, Arthur Loft
Director: Harold Schuster

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:29m:02s
Release Date: March 11, 2003
UPC: 024543068426
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+BB+ D-

DVD Review

Mother: Kenny, you can ride any horse on the ranch. Why are you so set on having a colt?
Ken: Oh mother, it isn't just riding. I want a colt to be friends with me. I want a colt of my own, all my own.

After coming to attention with his performance in John Ford's 1941 film, How Green Was My Valley, child actor Roddy McDowall made a perfect costar for a number of animal pictures, and took the lead role of Ken McLaughlin in Harold Schuster's My Friend Flicka, a part he would reprise in the 1945 sequel Thunderhead: Son of Flicka. Based on the novel by Mary O'Hara, My Friend Flicka tells the heartwarming story of a horse rancher's son and his pony.

While he can ride any horse on the ranch, all Ken can think about is having a pony to call his own. His preoccupation with horses isn't helping his school work, but his parents disagree on the appropriate course of action. His mother (Rita Johnson) understands Ken's distraction, and feels the boy would benefit from the responsibility of owning a horse, while his hard-nosed father (Preston Foster) thinks he should buckle down with his homework and improve his grades.

"Jeepers, if I could ever have a colt like that." -Ken

Dad finally concedes to mother's influence and allows Ken to select a pony of his choosing, but when the boy picks out the colt of a high-spirited renegade, his father is less than enthusiastic. Ken has his work cut out for him. The colt's mother was untameable, but Ken is determined to prove his father wrong when it comes to the pony. However, when Flicka bolts and injures himself on the barb wire fencing, it appears that he has the same genes as his mother.

My Friend Flicka is a classic story, with all the emotional ups and downs one expects from a family picture. McDowall carries his part with a wide-eyed enthusiasm, as he learns the responsibilities of taking care of his own colt, and Diana Hale provides comic relief as his younger sister, Hildy. Foster and Johnson are also well cast as his parents, playing polar opposites in their understanding of the boy and how to handle the situations that develop. The film definitely dates itself by its dialogue and styling which, while building many dramatic moments, never gets heavily sentimental. There is plenty of action as the colt encounters perils that could end its life, but the film allows its characters to redeem themselves in the end, as the young horse teaches everyone a lesson.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Overall things look pretty good here from a transfer perspective, although there are some source issues. Colors are well saturated, contrast is good as are black levels. Print defects are fairly minor, and grain is apparent, but not overly obtrusive. There are some more serious separation problems, which add some blue haloing in select scenes, and one shot in particular is quite out of registration. These aside, the Technicolor image is pleasing.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: English audio is available in both stereo and original mono soundtracks. Considering their age, the quality of both is fine, though I found the mono soundtrack preferable with voices seeming more distinct. Imaging on the stereo track is minimal. Nothing glaring from a technical perspective, aside from a somewhat limited frequency range consistent with films of the era. A Spanish track is also provided, which has more prominent dialogue.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bushwhacked, Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog, Lucas
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra features are trailers for Bushwhacked, Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog and Lucas.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

My Friend Flicka is an enjoyable feature, with a great performance by a young Roddy McDowall. While the style shows its age, it's hard not to feel the bond between boy and horse, challenged by the ever-present perils imposed by both nature and adults, and the ending is satisfying, if a little too contrived by today's standards. Classic family entertainment. Recommended.

 


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