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My Friend Flicka

My Friend Flicka(1943)

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teaser My Friend Flicka (1943)

Following the enormous success of Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley (1941), the John Ford directed classic about the tribulations of a Welsh mining family, Twentieth Century-Fox was eager to find substantial parts to showcase the talents of juvenile actor Roddy McDowall, who had garnered critical acclaim for his portrayal of young Huw. My Friend Flicka offered just such an opportunity.

Based on the popular 1941 novel of the same name by Mary O'Hara, My Friend Flicka tells the story of a young boy named Ken (McDowall) and his strong bond with Flicka, an unruly colt on his family's Wyoming ranch. Although Ken's academic underachieving and lack of discipline have been a source of disappointment for his West Point educated father (Preston Foster), his determination to tame and train Flicka gives Ken just the challenge and inspiration that he needs in order to mature.

The timeless coming of age story warmed the hearts of both audiences and critics, helping to make it one of the top box office grossers of 1943. Shot in vibrant Technicolor on location in Utah, My Friend Flicka takes full advantage of the breathtaking mountain scenery, which the New York Times called "as pretty as a picture book."

Twentieth Century-Fox went on to make two sequels to My Friend Flicka based on author Mary O'Hara's follow ups to her original novel. Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945) reunited McDowall and the principal cast from the first film, while Green Grass of Wyoming (1948) featured an entirely different set of actors. Fox also created a successful television series from the franchise called My Friend Flicka that ran 1956-58, and in 2006 the studio introduced a whole new generation to the story with an updated feature film reboot called Flicka starring Tim McGraw, Maria Bello and Alison Lohman.

The original My Friend Flicka from 1943 remains a family friendly classic that will appeal to all ages. Its simple message of love and hope has resonated for over 70 years as each new generation discovers the beauty of this enduring tale.

By Andrea Passafiume

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