Cast & Crew
Lee Van Cleef
Every day at three o'clock, a glossy black colt named Gypsy arrives at the schoolhouse to greet his mistress, young Meg MacWade. One day, Meg's parents, Frank and Em, try in vain to find the courage to tell their daughter that Gypsy must be sold, as the long drought has left them with barely enough water to survive on their small farm. The following morning, stable owner Wade Y. Gerald buys Gypsy, then hands the animal over to his brash trainer, Hank, to turn him into a race horse. When Gypsy is not there to meet her after school, Meg runs home in fear and confronts her parents. Frank is too upset to speak, but Em sadly explains to Meg that they acted out of necessity. Wade shows Gypsy to his young son Phil, who is concerned that the horse is listless and off his feed. Gypsy is released into the corral, where he promptly jumps the fence and runs away to meet Meg at school. Shortly after Meg and Gypsy get home, Hank arrives to take the horse back, and when he uses the whip on Gypsy, Frank angrily knocks him down, then gently leads Gypsy into the carrier. Gypsy's training continues, and the horse shows impressive speed. One day, Gypsy again breaks free and runs away. Hank goes to the MacWade home, and Frank and Em say that Meg has not come home from school. Frank finds Meg and Gypsy hiding in a cave, and comforts his daughter. In the morning, Frank and Meg return Gypsy to the Gerald ranch, and Wade is surprised to learn that the horse has run away twice. After Meg bids Gypsy a tearful goodbye, she meets Phil, who promises to take care of the horse for her. Gypsy is taken to Greenway Park for the thoroughbred racing meet. When Hank's back is turned, Gypsy releases the latch on his stall and escapes, then begins the 500-mile trek back to the MacWade farm. Along the way, Gypsy is roped by some cowboys, but rears up and escapes when they try to brand him. The cowboys pursue him to the edge of a canyon, but Gypsy jumps into the lake below and swims to the other side. Later, Gypsy runs by a small roadside diner, and the waitress shows her customers a newspaper article about the runaway horse. When they learn there is a $1,000 reward for the animal, four young men pursue Gypsy on their motorcycles, but the spirited horse eludes them. Gypsy continues his journey over the parched land, but thirst and exhaustion finally overtake him. The unconscious Gypsy is discovered by a young boy, Pedro, who is riding by on a burro. The boy gives Gypsy water, and when that fails to revive the horse, he goes to get his father Tony. Gypsy is gone when they return, but Tony and Pedro follow his tracks and bring the horse back to their small farm. Despite Pedro's affection for him, Gypsy is restless. One day, Tony brings two men over to buy the horse, and Pedro is crushed. That night, while the men are drinking and playing music, Pedro--alarmed by the whip that one of the men is carrying--releases Gypsy. Back on the farm, Frank tells Em that they should give up and look for work up north until the drought ends. Just then, they hear whinnying and rush outside to find a bedraggled Gypsy looking in Meg's window. They are tending to the animal when Wade, Phil and Hank drive up. In desperation, Frank and Em claim that the horse is just an old nag they bought to keep Meg company. Realizing what Gypsy has done to return to the little girl he loves, Wade and Phil pretend not to recognize the horse. Hank protests, but Wade fires him for his callous treatment of the horses under his care. At three o'clock, Gypsy grows excited, and Frank releases him. The horse gallops through town to the schoolhouse, and as Meg happily embraces Gypsy, it begins to rain.
Lee Van Cleef
Rodolfo Hoyos Jr.
Sidney Franklin Jr.
William Grady Jr.
Rudolph G. Kopp
Conrad A. Nervig
Edwin B. Willis
Gypsy Colt was based on a screenplay by Martin Berkeley and directed by Andrew Marton. Writer Berkeley turned out to be a rather controversial figure in movie history. He got his start, inauspiciously enough, in 1943 writing the screenplay for the MGM programmer Harrigan's Kid. He also co-wrote several Dr. Gillespie pictures for MGM (including Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case  and Three Men in White ). Berkeley penned scripts for other studios as well, receiving screen credit on pictures like: The Notorious Lone Wolf (1946), an entry in Columbia's Lone Wolf detective series, Sand (1949), a Fox Western, and Meet Me at the Fair (1953), directed by Douglas Sirk, for Universal. However, Berkeley's Hollywood reputation is not due to his screenwriting abilities. Instead, Berkeley is best known for naming names before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s. In fact, Berkeley is generally considered to have damaged more careers than any other witness, by "outing" 155 of his peers as Communists.
Berkeley's admissions before the Committee saved his own career but it did little to win him friends in Hollywood. Gypsy Colt's director Andrew Marton remembered being in the MGM commissary with Berkeley and "feel[ing] about sixteen different daggers in [his] back." "I lost many friends because the script was written by Martin Berkeley," Marton later said. He also admitted to having known of Berkeley's politics when he signed on to make Gypsy Colt. "I thought the situation was a little storm in a teacup," Marton confessed.
Thankfully Marton had an easier time with his cast, both human and equine. Child actor Donna Corcoran, who had a five-year career at MGM in the '50s, starred as Meg. Among Corcoran's other notable films were Angels in the Outfield (1951) and Dangerous When Wet (1953). In the role of Meg's father was character actor Ward Bond. Though Bond was, like Berkeley, an anti-red activist and member of the conservative Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, his impressive body of work overshadowed his political leanings. And Frances Dee, who starred in Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie (1943), played Meg's mother in Gypsy Colt. As for Gypsy the horse, his real name was Fury. He would also appear in Giant (1956) and star in his own television series in the 1950's entitled Fury. For his performance in Gypsy Colt, he would be honored with a PATSY award, for top animal star of the year.
Gypsy Colt wasn't Marton's first experience with an animal movie; he had previously directed Gallant Bess (1946), another horse story. Interestingly enough, Marton would go on to establish himself more as a second unit director, rather than as a solo director. He directed second unit production on films like A Farewell to Arms (1957), Cleopatra (1963), The Longest Day (1962) and Catch 22 (1970) -- not to mention Ben-Hur (1959), for which Marton would receive a special Oscar® for directing the chariot race sequence which involved countless horses.
As for Gypsy Colt, Marton summed it up this way -- "we made a children's picture, which wasn't a bad one either. It was a completely nonpolitical film."
Producer: Sidney Franklin, William Grady, Jr.
Director: Andrew Marton
Screenplay: Eric Knight (story), Martin Berkeley
Cinematography: Harold Lipstein
Film Editing: Conrad A. Nervig
Art Direction: Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Rudolph G. Kopp
Cast: Donna Corcoran (Meg MacWade), Ward Bond (Frank MacWade), Frances Dee (Em MacWade), Larry Keating (Wade Y. Gerald), Lee Van Cleef (Hank), Nacho Galindo (Pancho).
by Stephanie Thames
The horse Gypsy is listed in the film's opening credits but not the closing credits. According to a June 22, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, Gig Young was originally cast as "Wade Y. Gerald." A Hollywood Reporter news item reports that the film was shot on location in Aspen and Grand Junction, CO and the Mojave Desert, Rosemead Dry Lake and Red Rock Canyon, CA. Gypsy Colt was based on the same source as the 1943 M-G-M film Lassie Come Home, which was directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starred Roddy McDowell as a little boy separated from his beloved dog (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).