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Just Between Frames

Our Take On: "The Black Stallion"

The BlackStallion graphic

We began a new theme is April: “Never Work with Children or Animals” which we take to mean films with outstanding performances by either children or animals. Our first film demonstrates both: The Black Stallion. Based on the legendary children’s story by Walter Farley, the horse cast for The Black, was hypnotic to watch, particularly in the scenes between he and young Kelly Reno. The bond they form on-screen is magical and we felt, it brought the level of audience engagement up through adults.

We spent some time talking about how easy it was to lose track of the fact that, barring the opening scene, nearly the first half of the movie has no dialog. We all agreed it was filmed beautifully, and its soundtrack complemented all of the movie, but especially in this opening half.

Kelly also shines in his scenes with Mickey Rooney (a former child star himself) who seems to have genuine affection for the boy. One could easily see where Rooney might see Reno as a younger version of himself, when he wasn’t much older playing opposite Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. We noted in fact, that there’s a scene in The Black Stallion where the camera shows a picture of Rooney jumping a horse – taken directly from National Velvet!

Everyone loved the scene where Alec has to race the Black in the dark in the rain and how that race demonstrated the depth of the bond between the two of them. And we loved the final race where both visually and musically the two re-discover the rhythm of tearing across the desert island to find the strength to go for a final win.

We also talked about Walter Farley and how influential he was not only for girls but for boys of the 1950s-1970s were enthralled with the Black and Alec’s adventures. We noted that this was also the era when TV shows featured Fury, Trigger – and of course, Silver. While the interest in horses may be different in the 21st century, there’s still a strong base that is interested in horse racing. We talked about how that has manifested in the recent movies: Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and Hidalgo. So there’s reason to believe that the human fascination with horses is bound to continue!

Next up: My Bodyguard, which proves that a small, indie-film with a new director can become a critical and box office success.

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