Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Stallion Road (1947)

STALLION ROAD is a leisurely 97-minute Warner Bros. drama starring Ronald Reagan, Zachary Scott, and Alexis Smith. There's not a great deal to the film, but I found it pleasant company thanks to the congenial cast.

Reagan plays a veterinarian on the California coast who specializes in horses and infectious diseases, while also running his own horse ranch. Scott is his old friend, a best-selling author who comes for an extended visit.

Both men meet and fall for a young horse owner, played by Alexis Smith; she lives on a ranch with her little sister (Patti Brady, NEVER SAY GOODBYE).

The men compete for the affections of Alexis, and there are complications caused by everything from a married woman (Peggy Knudsen) with a crush on the vet to a sick horse to an anthrax epidemic which infects both animals and humans. The movie meanders pleasantly along, enjoyable but not especially gripping, even when the vet comes down with anthrax at the end of the film.

The film would have been considerably less interesting without the presence of Zachary Scott as the worldly writer who recognizes early on that his love for Alexis isn't likely to go anywhere. Scott has some excellent lines, particularly when he's verbally parrying with the married Daisy (Knudsen) about her intentions toward the vet. He gives the film much of its energy.

Reagan and Smith are appealing but not particularly memorable in this one. They each were capable of much more, such as Reagan's delightful performance in THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE the following year.

Harry Davenport plays the local doctor. The cast also includes Frank Puglia, Angela Greene, Lloyd Corrigan, and Fernando Alvarado.

This film was directed by James V. Kern and the uncredited Raoul Walsh. Stephen Longstreet adapted the screenplay from his own novel. The black and white cinematography was by Arthur Edeson; IMDb says location filming took place in Thousand Oaks, California, which is the same area where Joel McCrea and Frances Dee owned their ranch.

STALLION ROAD has been released on DVD-R by the Warner Archive.

It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it was most recently shown on Alexis Smith's birthday last month. TCM has the trailer on their website.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I enjoyed this movie, mainly as you say for Zachary Scott's work. I liked the story progression right up until the anthrax business, which I thought was Hollywood-manufactured melodrama --until I read the book. It's the climax of the book, though with a different outcome than was portrayed in the movie.

Perhaps you know that Ronald Reagan was so taken with his horse in this film, Tarbaby, that he bought it. Decades later, when as President, he invited Alexis Smith and her husband Craig Stevens to the White House, and filled her in on the descendents of Tarbaby, which he still owned.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jacqueline! That's very interesting that the book had a different outcome. Perhaps I'll get my hands on it and read it -- I enjoy reading novels of the era which were filmed.

I was thinking as I watched that Reagan certainly looked at home and happy on that horse -- it was apparent that he was doing his own jumping -- but little did I know how much he liked that horse! What a great story you shared. I found a wonderful photo of him riding Tarbaby and also learned he rode the horse in THE LAST OUTPOST (1951).

Best wishes,
Laura

8:42 AM  

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