Smoky was the second big screen adaptation by 20th Century Fox of the popular Will James book Smoky the Cowhorse, which won the prestigious Newberry Medal for children's literature in 1927. Fox had first filmed the story in 1933 with Victor Jory in the lead. A third version was also filmed in 1966 starring Fess Parker.
Smoky was a hit with both audiences and critics. The New York Times called the film "pretty as a picture card" and said, "Smoky is mighty pleasant and refreshing entertainment--in fact, it's just about the best substitute one could make for a day in the country..." Time magazine called it "an expert Technicolor treatment of Will James' famed 20-year-old novel." Many reviews also singled out the feature film debut of Burl Ives who performs several songs in Smoky including "Down in the Valley," "The Streets of Laredo," and "Blue Tail Fly."
Featuring gorgeous location scenery filmed in Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, Smoky was one of several horse-themed dramas directed by Louis King; others included Thunderhead - Son of Flicka (1945), Green Grass of Wyoming (1948), a sequel to Thunderhead, Sand (1949) and The Lion and the Horse (1952).
Producer: Robert Bassler
Director: Louis King
Screenplay: Lillie Hayward, Dwight Cummins, Dorothy Yost (screenplay); Will James (novel)
Cinematography: Charles Clarke
Art Direction: Chester Gore, Lyle Wheeler
Music: David Raksin
Film Editing: Nick De Maggio
Cast: Fred MacMurray (Clint Barkley), Anne Baxter (Julie Richards), Bruce Cabot (Frank Denton), Esther Dale (Mrs. 'Gram' Richards), Roy Roberts (Jeff), J. Farrell MacDonald (Jim, the Cook), Burl Ives (Willie).
by Andrea Passafiume