For the first time in a long while,I am actually excited about a review! I originally saw "The Magic Pony" on Saturday morning Aug. 23rd,1980 (age 12).
I know this because the previous night I had spent in the hospital (nothing serious). I came home,rested and this was on TV. I also recalled it due to the incredibly catchy song sung by "The Sea Princess" in the second half called "(I Am) A Lonely Child". Mainly the lyric line,"in the dark of the night" is what never left me. It's the best song in the feature.
Yesterday,7/21/07,I entered the library and noticed on it's "for sale" shelf a VHS copy of this film. I wasn't 100% sure it was the actual film but I bought it anyway (for less than $1!) I took it home,viewed it and wasn't positive until I heard that song. It's absolutely amazing to find it 1 month and 2 days shy of 27 years later.
Anyhow,the actual film we see here was made in 1947 (happy 60th). Different sources say it was re-dubbed in 1975 or 1976 but a more accurate source says it was released in America Jan. 1977 (happy 30th).
Anyhow,the story is about a young Russian man named Ivan(voiced by Family Affair's Johnny Whittaker) who goes out with his brothers on night to guard the family's wheat field. He's thought to be a "dumb-bell" by everyone. Actually he's just inexperienced in life but given how long ago this was made,political incorrectness abounds here. ...but don't let it stop you from enjoying it.
His brothers get drunk and fall asleep while he has the dazzling experience of seeing the spirit of a grand white mare who's been trampling through their wheat. He catches hold of her and because he doesn't fall off while she's flying, she declares that he is her master and she bestowes to him two grand black horses and The Magic Pony named Zip (Erin Moran of Happy Days,my favorite show back then).
Ivan,due to some help from Zip in outwitting his two brothers,who try to sell his horses, ends up working for the king (Jim Backus). The king a childish,mean,first class jerk. Even worse is the kings evil assistant (voiced by comic actor (Hans Conried) who wants the boy out of the way. He makes up lies about the boy to the king,which sends Ivan out on many an errand to re-win the kings favor. Which the king really doesn't deserve in the first place.
Backus and Conreid are given lines like,"I'll see your body lying in a ditch!"/ "You shall be hung" / "We'll tear you up into little pieces". Again,the lines for today's tastes are P.I. but then again the times portrayed here weren't exactly a sea of tranquility...so again,just disregard the comments.
Ivan and Zip the Magic Pony have adventures like capturing the mythical "Fire-Bird",bringing the Princess of the Sea to the king and getting her golden rings back,from the ocean bottom. The last one accomplished by setting a whale free from his cursed captivity,when the whale finally relinquishes 30 boats (and all the crew of)that he swallowed whole. The poor whale has villagers living on his back!
Meanwhile,every plot by the king's assistant to discredit the boy (and get him killed by the way)are foiled by the help of Zip. The final task is brought about because the king wants to marry the Princess. She's (18?) and he's a geezer and she claims the only way she'd marry him is if he becomes young again.
The outcome of the final task is what leads too the "happily ever after" part,so I wont spoil it. In all,this is an almost dream like movie. It's simplicity is it's charm and the story is a timeless one. The only thing that would make this movie even better is if it was put into restoration & recolorization and put out on a decent DVD package. Not a $1 DVD!
10 stars,for re-discovering a piece of my childhood and the whole magical story itself. (END)