My Friend Flicka (1943) Poster

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From the eyes of a 7 year old
oaksong16 June 2006
I was about that, in a much quieter age, when I first saw Flicka. I was enthralled by the brave young hero and it left a very strong mark on me. Being young, and unsophisticated, I didn't have LOTR or Star Wars or any of today's high tech films to compare it to. I had Hoppalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid and Roy Rogers, amongst other cowboy heroes. And then along comes this kid whose not a lot older than I was at the time being brave and honorable and fighting for what's right. I haven't seen it again since, and I'm not sure what my adult reaction to it would be. I'm sure the kids of today would be too sophisticated for the pleasures that I drew from it. So it goes....
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I remember the original
meredith-l-russell26 October 2006
I was 8 when I saw the film. As an earlier writer said, it was before TV and during simpler times. I loved it. I haven't seen it for 6o years but some scenes still remain in my memory. Today I took my grandchildren to see Flicka. I was disappointed to find that Ken had been replaced by a nubile teenage girl and the script has been changed dramatically. I wonder what kind of film would have resulted from remaining true to the wonderful novel. It seems that stories for children can't be written now without either animation or high drama or an element of sexuality as shown in the relationship between brother Ryan and Miranda.
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Minus the Star Power
inspectors7110 April 2007
From some of the comments about the first version of My Friend Flicka, you'd think the movie was 89 minutes of pure schmaltz, but I enjoyed it. It had a nice, simple feel to it and you can just see how comforting this movie might have been to the nerve-jangled America of 1943.

If you can get past the occasional side trip into the corn field, there's a lot of straightforward emotion and values in MFF. Also, notice how good the color looks, how crisp the images are, and check out some very mobile camera work out on the north forty. Flicka stands out because most of the exteriors are shot in outdoors instead of in a large sound stage. It sounds silly, but it makes the movie work.

Probably the only faults in the movie are in the star Roddy McDowell and his little friend, Patti Hale. Hale is so cutesy in her attempt to do a Shirley Temple impression through the movie that you want her shipped out to whatever passed for kindergarten back then. McDowell holds his own on screen with the older professionals, but it's that suppressed accent and his wimpiness that put the greatest strain on the movie. I never believed him; I kept thinking that this guy would grow up to play one effeminate killer after another on the NBC Mystery Movie.

But that's just me.

I'm recommending My Friend Flicka for you and your family. 89 minutes of pleasant schmaltz beats a Cheaper by the Dozen or a Happy Feet any day.
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great movie for kids with no violence, sex, drugs or cursing
ponyiq27 December 2006
This is a children's movie from a much simpler time. If you are looking for a movie that is going to be an attention grabber every second, well then you are looking for the wrong movie. This is a good movie for kids. If you are a horse lover it is a good movie as well. The handling is good and if you look into the back ground of my friend flicka and thunderhead you will see that not one horse was injured in the making of the movie, as well as the movie was given the American HUMANE SOCIETY'S blessing that no animals were harmed which can not be saide for the 2006 movie version which resulted in the death of not one but two horsers.. so if you are looking for a movie that is greaqt for the kids, no cursing, no violence, no hatred, no sexual inuendo, no underlying sex or violent themes, then this is a great movie.. it is about the love of a boy and his horse.. the 1943 movie also did not harm or kill any horse.. which the 2006 version did..

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Fair; Poor script writing
semck24 May 1999
This is a mediocre movie from a brilliant book. The script writers did everything they could to slaughter it, making it into a cutesy children's movie. Not to be outdone, the casting department then finished pulling everything apart, leaving it to the actors to attempt a salvage. Roddy McDowall turned in a good performance as always; there was just something about his English accent that seemed out of place on the Wyoming plane.I voted a six, because it's a fair movie if you forget that it's supposed to be from the book, which apparently nobody in the crew read.
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Really great movie!
mikecowboy1996-116 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film is great! It is perfect in all ways! It has some really good acting, good plot, good director, and good characters! The plot is, young Ken Mclaughin cannot please his father.He day dreams of horses galloping through fields, when he instead should be doing his homework and chores.He finds a wild horse that he tries to train and take care of, so he can prove to his parents that he is responsible.The movie is great with some sad parts, but overall is a great, fun film for the entire family to enjoy! You really should buy the DVD, you will not be disappointed at all! It's a wonderful family film! It is MUCH better then the awful remake that doesn't even follow the book! The remake is horrible, you should REALLY watch this one and it's sequels.It is such a good movie.

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Roddy McDowall Has Horse Sense
wes-connors12 September 2010
"In this touching family film based on the celebrated novel by Mary O'Hara, ten-year-old Kenny McLaughlin (Roddy McDowall), a rancher's son, desperately wants a horse of his own. When his father (Preston Foster) finally agrees to let him choose a foal, Ken picks Flicka, a beautiful but high-spirited filly who comes from a bloodline considers hopelessly wild. It is up to Ken to prove Flicka is tamable or risk losing her. Along the way, Ken and his family learn some important lessons in the poignant tale of love, patience, faith, and hope beyond hope," according to the DVD synopsis.

The most obvious outstanding feature of this excellent family drama is the stunningly beautiful Technicolor photography by Dewey Wrigley, with Natalie Kalmus and Henri Jaffa assisting. Both the Utah location and 20th Century-Fox lots are spectacular, often with a gentle breeze highlighting the scenery. The studio could have easily pushed for an "Academy Award" (to compete with MGM's "Lassie Come Home") in the "Best Color Cinematography" category.

According to my Svenska grandfather, "Flicka" means just "girl" in Swedish, not as the film states, "little girl." The story trims the book to make "My Friend Flicka" seem more about the curiously cold relationship father Foster has with his son. By the film's end, you expect the distant dad will be closer to young McDowall. He and "Flicka" are tremendously appealing, and charmed viewers through sequels, a TV series, and numerous repeats through the 1950s.

******** My Friend Flicka (5/26/43) Harold Schuster ~ Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, Rita Johnson, James Bell
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The Bonding is something to see
bkoganbing17 November 2011
One of Roddy McDowell's most endearing roles as a child actor was as young Ken McLaughlin in My Friend Flicka. The film has deservedly become an international children's classic.

Young Mr. McLaughlin has become quite the headache for his parents Preston Foster and Rita Johnson, his grades slipping and his chores on the horse ranch they have left undone. Johnson decides that he should get a colt anyway to teach him a sense of responsibility and Foster goes along with the idea, a bit reluctantly.

The bonding of the colt Flicka with McDowell is something to see. It's quite touching and real and the two see through some rough patches. The colt's mother has a streak of crazy wildness in her and a particular piece of wildness kills her. This is where Preston Foster gets his doubts, but love between the boy and horse win out.

Studios which were starting to use color before the war pretty much switched to black and white. 20th Century Fox probably did more color features than other studios, mostly for their splashy musicals. The color cinematography here makes My Friend Flicka timeless and salable for today's taste.

Good family film, still holds up well since the World War II years.
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Touching Movie of Long Ago, Yet Still Timely in What it Teaches
Scoval7130 June 2010
This is a very dated movie with obvious sets. It is about a young, impressionable boy who does not seem to fit into the Wyoming ranch life his father loves. As a result, his father puts him in charge of a horse. The movie is replete with with its Hollywood make-up, perfect ranch clothing, sets, and backdrops that are just terribly apparent. The young boy speaks with such perfection of speech, such respect, and such politeness, it is just foreign to the backdrop of a Wyoming rancher. But---but,the story is timeless. What both the father and son learn---from Flicka--endures to this day. I saw it for the first time on television this afternoon. I was extremely touched and at the point of tears. It is, indeed, a classic, for children as well as for adults, and simply an endearing movie to enjoy. I recommend it. Great acting by the horse, too.
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You could close your eyes and watch it
raskimono5 August 2005
Why B-movie hack Schuster was hired to direct from my understanding a pretty popular and beloved children's book is beyond me. It shows the kind of nonsense old screenwriter DFZ loved to do at his studio Fox. The Fox classics from his era of running the studio are classics to only those who don't love movies. I have never read the book but I feel very suspiciously that much of it has been thrown into the gutter. That's alright. I have no big qualms with that as long as what you do stands on its own and is as good or better than what is in the book. In this case, syrup flows from this thing and never stops. I continually could look away from the screen, nod my head and lose absolutely nothing in this story about a dumb-dumb taming the wild or is it loco? bronc. What saves this treacly story is the fine and natural performances by everyone in the cast and I am a twenty-five year old guy, so I guess the movie isn't meant for me, and i believe the young uns might enjoy it, so rent it for the kids. A new version is currently being made. Hopefully, that one will offer something for both kids and adults.
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The horses are rightly the center of attraction!
JohnHowardReid4 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Roddy McDowall (Ken McLaughlin), Preston Foster (Rob McLaughlin), Rita Johnson (Nell McLaughlin), James Bell (Gus), Jeff Corey (Tim Murphy), Diana Hale (Hildy), Arthur Loft (Charley Sargent), and "Misty" ("Banner").

Director: HAROLD SCHUSTER. Screenplay: Lillie Hayward. Adapted by Francis Edwards Faragoh from the 1941 novel by Mary O'Hara (pseudonym of Mary Alsop Sture-Vasa). Photo¬graphed in Technicolor by Dewey Wrigley. Film editor: Robert Fritch. Music: Alfred Newman. Art directors: Richard Day and Chester Gore. Set decorators: Thomas Little and Paul S. Fox. Costumes: Herschel. Equine supervisor: Jack Lindell. Technicolor color consultants: Natalie Kalmus and Henri Jaffa. Sound recording: Joseph E. Aiken and Harry M. Leonard. Western Electric Sound System. Producer: Ralph Dietrich.

Copyright 23 April 1943 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Roxy: 26 May 1943. U.S. release: April 1943. Australian release: 6 January 1944. Sydney release at the Palace: 11 February 1944. Lengths: 7,970 feet, 88½ minutes (U.S.A.); 8,249 feet, 91½ minutes (Australia).

SYNOPSIS: Amiable but dreamy-headed youngster gains maturity caring for a colt of his own. Setting: A horse ranch in Wyoming, 1941.

NOTE: Sequel is Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945). Final film is Green Grass of Wyoming (1948).

COMMENT: With its breathtakingly beautiful color location photography, its rousing music score timed to exciting vistas of horses thundering through attractive landscapes, My Friend Flicka provides an entertainment feast for horse lovers in general, Mary O'Hara fans in particular. True, Roddy McDowall makes an ingratiating young hero and the support players are capable enough, but it's the horses that are rightly the center of attraction - and they are skillfully directed and most appealingly presented. (The scene in which "Rocket" is killed is dramatically highly effective due to the deft editing of imaginative camera angles and camera movement).

Of course the script does have a tendency to wash into sentiment (even the conclusion is not wholly up-beat, readying us for the sequel, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka). The dialogue also tends to be expressed in too obviously goodie-goodie clichés - particularly by the over-earnestly solicitous Swedish hired man, played somewhat exaggeratedly by James Bell.

Admittedly the film doesn't go overboard, but the tendency to sucrose is there, finding its least enjoyable morphosis in Mr Bell. The rest of the cast is not so noticeably infected. Roddy McDowall manages to overcome the germ completely, while Preston Foster (who seems to have more than his share of didactic and instant information lines) is such a dull (if capable) actor anyway, it doesn't really matter. The same goes for Rita Johnson who does the understanding mother to a "T".

The film is remarkably well directed by Harold Schuster. You won't find his name on any auteur lists. Director of the terrible Breakfast in Hollywood and the delightful (but routinely directed) Dinner at the Ritz, his career reached its highest point here and in Disney's So Dear to My Heart. His previous film to Flicka (signed "Charles Fuhr"), namely Bomber's Moon, is also not without interest.
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