The Strawberry Roan (1948)

Approved   |    |  Western

The Strawberry Roan (1948) Poster

Young Joe is paralyzed as he is bucked by a wild horse, a strawberry roan. Angered, his father, Walt, tries to shoot the horse but is stopped by his foreman, Gene Autry. The roan escapes ... See full summary »


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14 June 2006 | aimless-46
| Stay Away from Them Horse Lovin Cowboys Mrs. Mitchell
Longer (78 minutes) than the usual Autry western, 1948's "The Strawberry Roan" tells a story about Gene's horse Champion (World's Wonder Horse) who appeared in his films from 1935 until 1953. Actually there were three film horses called Champion, all were sorrel-colored with three or four white stockings. The original died while Gene was in the service so the one in "The Strawberry Roan" is probably Champion Jr. (born in 1942) who appeared with Gene until 1950.

In this color film Champion looks more chestnut than strawberry, and the roan part is hard to tell (a roan is a horse with white hairs mixed in equally with its main color).

Gene plays a ranch foreman who captures a wild strawberry roan which then throws the son of the ranch owner. The young man Joe (Dickie Jones) breaks his leg and the horse starts to attack him. The enraged father Walt (Jack Holt) goes on a shooting rampage and believes he has killed the rogue horse, but Gene finds the wounded animal and secretly nurses it back to health. Meanwhile Joe has gone into a severe depression over his riding mistake and won't even attempt to walk again.

When Walt finds out about Gene's subterfuge they have a falling out. Walt's daughter Connie (Gloria Henry-a young Mrs. Mitchell from "Dennis the Menace") tries to patch things up between the two men because you just know that the best thing for Joe would be to get back up on the saddle and ride the same horse that threw him.

Gene still finds the time for singing. In addition to the title song there is "Texas Lullaby" and "When the White Roses Bloom in Red River Valley".

This was not just Pat Buttrum's first Autry film but the first film of his career. He looks very young but has already developed several of his comic bits.

Gene was an old looking 40 by this time but they still tried to sort of pair him up with teenage looking starlets like Gloria Henry. The code of the west wouldn't permit him to be attracted to someone his daughter's age, so like on his later television show these girls are made to seem vaguely in love with his character while he seems more attracted to horses.

Dickie Jones' Joe is the most interesting character. If you ever wondered about the term "borderline personality" you may want to closely observe this guy. Such people are characterized as having a tendency to react more intensely to lower levels of stress than others and to take longer to recover; peaking emotionally on less provocation and taking longer coming down. Such is poor Joe. It is interesting that this clinical condition should get its most accurate screen portrayal in a film that is mostly about horses. I think at one point Gene even remarks that horses and people are a lot alike.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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