The Red Pony Reviews
Vastly inferior to [b]Of Mice and Men[/b], Milestone's Steinbeck adaptation from a decade earlier, [b]The Red Pony[/b] is a straight shot of fresh-scrubbed Americana. Centering around a young boy and his love for his red pony, it failed to catch my interest at any point, and truth be told, during several of the more cloying moments, I caught up with several articles in yesterday's [i]Wall Street Journal[/i] that I hadn't had time to read yet.
That said, [b]The Red Pony[/b] does have one redeeming feature: a magnificent score by Aaron Copland. One of the giants of 20th Century American music, Copland is one of my all-time favorite composers (for both film and otherwise), and this is one of his lamentably few forays into film (his first major success being in [b]Of Mice and Men[/b]). His score succeeds where the rest of the film fails- it reinforces the American way of life with a dignity and rich lyricism without ever becoming heavy-handed. It was the beauty of the music that sustained me through long stretches of the film.
To be fair, I think [b]The Red Pony[/b] is intended to be a "family film," which may explain why it lacks the thematic sophistication of [b]Of Mice and Men[/b]. And it certainly does have some notable attributes, particularly an atypical performance from Robert Mitchum as the kind, paternal figure in the boy's life. But to me, [b]The Red Pony[/b] is first and foremost yet another testament to the genius of Aaron Copland and his music.