The Black Stallion

Yesterday for my birthday I received a gift certificate for the Criterion Collection, which was an excellent gift because I was looking forward to the releases of “The Emigrants,” “The Graduate,” and “The Kid.” I watched the Johnny Carson program featuring Myrtle Young, the potato chip collector. She died in 2014 at age 90. The episode was from October 16, 1987. I went out to buy a carne asada burrito, and I sat down to watch “The Black Stallion.” My feelings for the story go back to my elementary school teacher reading the story to our class so many years ago. Hoyt Axton was a pretty good actor, although I didn’t think this was one of his greatest roles or performances. I identify him with “Gremlins.” The big star of the show is the horse, which I assumed was several horses because of the necessary stunts. I always wondered how the horse could swim all the way to an island. This seemed like a survival story as unlikely as “Life of Pi.” This looked like a movie that was difficult to film, mostly because of the handling of animals. As I watched this time, I felt rather moved at the shot of Alec crying while dealing with being alone on the island. I thought about how much food The Black would have to eat each day on the island. The cinematography from Caleb Deschanel was not nominated for an Oscar, even though everyone admired it at the time. I think of “The Black Stallion” was a very good movie all around. The sight of Mickey Rooney gives me a feeling of nostalgia, especially as he was also in “National Velvet.” Teri Garr appeared in good movies from “The Conversation” to “Young Frankenstein” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” “The Black Stallion” made me think back to “The Reivers.” I thought that one curious thing about the story was that it took place in 1946, but the book was written in 1941. I wondered how they did the bit with the horse leaving one sugar cube. I was interested in what happened to two of the people involved in making this film. The first was Carroll Ballard. He was born in 1937, as was a classmate of Francis Ford Coppola at film school at UCLA. “The Black Stallion” was his first movie as director, and his second was “Never Cry Wolf.” He also worked on “Fly Away Home” in 1996. I would say that those three films were all strong efforts. You have to notice that that deal with nature and animals. His last film was “Duma” in 2005. Caleb Deschanel was born in 1944, and he went on to five Academy Award nominations for cinematography, for “The Right Stuff,” “The Natural,” “Fly Away Home,” “The Patriot,” and “The Passion of the Christ.” Kelly Reno is going to turn 50 on June 19. He suffered injuries in a car accident that cut short his acting career. He has been married three times. Terri Garr had to deal with multiple sclerosis. Hoyt Axton once the song “Joy to the World,” made famous by Three Dog Night. He appeared in “Heart Like a Wheel” and “Gremlins.” He died of a heart attack in Montana in 1999. Watching “The Black Stallion” again brings back a great year for movies in 1979. We had “Apocalypse Now,” “Being There,” “Breaking Away,” “Hair,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and “Manhattan.” I’m not sure that I will see a movie that is as good as any of those this year. I never saw the sequel to “The Black Stallion,” called “The Black Stallion Returns,” which was released in 1983. Kelly Reno and Terri Garr were in it, and Hoyt Axton was the narrator. Some of the people who died on February 11 include Sergei Eisenstein (1948), Sylvia Plath (1963), Lee J. Cobb (1976), Eleanor Powell (1982), Frank Herbert (1986), William Conrad (1994), Peter Benchley (2006), and Whitney Houston (2012). Today is a birthday for Jennifer Aniston (47), Sheryl Crow (54), Burt Reynolds (80), and Tina Louise (82). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 11, “I Love Lucy” won the Emmy Award for Best Situation Comedy and “Dragnet” won the award for Best Mystery, Action or Adventure Program at the 6th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1954. In 1979, the biographical television film “Elvis,” starring Kurt Russell and directed by John Carpenter, aired on ABC. In 1998, the handwritten lyrics to “Candle in the Wind 1997” were auctioned off for $442,500.

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