So strong is the bond between boy and his horse that during Carroll Ballard’s The Black Stallion we may find it difficult to overcome our constant feelings of welling up. We’re probably able to fight our surges when the boy entices the horse with seaweed on the desert island, but when he hugs the animal, we’re done in—a complete veg. Friends tell me that all they do is cry while the magnificent stallion is racing to the finish line at the movie’s climax. They’re crying because it’s culmination—that point when the animal’s natural instincts and affection have somehow mysteriously measured the needs of the moment. (We felt this very strongly while watching American Pharoah gallop to become a Triple Crown victor in the 2015 Belmont Stakes, cheering and crying as we watch the majestic ham respond in kind to the overwhelming thunderous love from the crowd and his jockey’s touch and voice.) Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography on the island of Sardinia is dreamy and enchanting, especially when the boy and horse look like they could be doing a two-step in the water. Mickey Rooney never more restrained and effective; Teri Garr not her usually intolerable self; and Kelly Reno’s boy just right. This movie ranks right up there with National Velvet as great “family values” entertainment, yes, but it’s a disservice to both if that’s all they’re regarded as. They’re two classics from the heart. Winner of the 1979 National Society of Film Critics & L.A. Critics Association awards for best cinematography.


Text COPYRIGHT © 2005 RALPH BENNER  Revised 6/2015 All Rights Reserved.