Movie Review: Smoky (1946)
Director: Louis King
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Anne Baxter, Bruce Cabot
Synopsis: The story of a cowboy’s love for a horse called Smoky.
WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS!
Fred MacMurray (Double Indemnity, The Absent Minded Professor) is the cowboy with a past who takes a shine to a wild black stallion he likes to call Smoky. So he captures the horse and devotedly sets about destroying its spirit so that he can put a saddle on its back and call it his.
OK, that might sound a little cynical, but it’s also a pretty accurate summary of what this movie is about when looked at from an adult’s point of view. Although it’s obviously aimed at kids, the whole thing is a bit daft when you think about it. Louis King’s direction is inadequate, and on two occasions the story has lead characters narrate what happens to Smoky – and even what Smoky’s parents are thinking! – in order to fill in gaps in the plot. Fred’s single-minded determination to make Smoky his results in the horse ending up a knackered old nag pulling a junkyard owner’s cart around city streets instead of spending his life roaming the wild plains as nature intended. It’s a surprise the wretched creature doesn’t shy away when he and Fred are re-united. And if all this wasn’t bad enough, we’ve got the ‘Singing Troubador’ Burl Ives (East of Eden) popping up every ten minutes to pad out the running time with a couple of homespun folk songs.
(Reviewed 18th January 2012)