Cast & Crew
Rancher Mike McGowan is attempting to catch a pure white, wild horse named "Snowfire" when the animal comes to the edge of a cliff, jumps into a creek below and swims away. Mike lassoes the horse when it emerges from the water, then is dragged along over the ground, but after a hard struggle, manages to tie it to a tree. Neighboring rancher Carol Hampton rides up with three of her ranchhands and claims that the horse rightly belongs to her as it is on her property. When the three men, brothers Buff, Link and Skip Stoner, threaten to beat Mike, she calls them off but refuses to shake Mike's hand and hits him instead. After Carol leaves, the brothers attack Mike, but are scared off when Mike's ranchhand, Poco, rides up and shoots at them.
Later, Mike, the widowed father of two young girls, Melodie and Molly, is attempting to break Snowfire in the corral at his Triple M Ranch, when Molly, the younger of the girls, becomes very upset upon learning that Snowfire is to be branded. Molly then attempts to burn herself with a branding iron in protest and Mike decides not to brand the horse. Thereafter, Molly develops a great friendship with Snowfire. Although Mike changes his mind and decides to brand the horse one morning before Molly wakes up, he discovers Snowfire missing from the corral. Mike rides to Carol's ranch and accuses her of taking the horse, but she denies it and slaps him again. Determined to break Carol of the habit of hitting him, he kisses her. Carol orders Mike to leave and he becomes involved in a fistfight with Buff. Just then, Molly rides up and confesses to her father that she turned Snowfire loose. Mike apologizes to Carol, who rides off in search of the horse, while Mike and Molly return to their ranch. Molly tells her father that Snowfire talks to her, which Mike does not believe, although Molly insists it is true.
Over several days, Carol and her men search for Snowfire and are spied upon by Molly, who is hiding the horse. Mike and Poco are also following Snowfire's trail but find only Molly, who insists that Snowfire told her that he wanted to visit his family. Concerned about Molly's "conversations" with the horse, Mike arranges for her to be examined by Dr. Stewart, a psychiatrist. Stewart is convinced that Molly has a fixation and that he can bring her back to reality. After Molly tells the doctor that Snowfire has told her that he has a small son, the doctor asks her to wake up from her dream and tell him that the horse does not talk to her, but she refuses. Stewart then asks to meet Snowfire, and after agreeing to take him to where Snowfire has told her he will be, Molly bets Stewart his car that she can produce the talking horse. The totally bewildered doctor gives up and flees back to the city.
Later, while Molly is visiting Snowfire, his mare and foal, Snowfire suddenly becomes agitated and Molly discovers that Carol and the Stoner brothers are nearby. Molly warns Snowfire, then falls from a rock and is knocked unconscious. After Snowfire tries to revive Molly, he whinnies to attract Carol and the men to Molly's location and runs off. Carol takes Molly back to Mike's ranch, where a doctor tells him that Molly has suffered a severe concussion and cannot be moved. Mike now believes that Snowfire attacked Molly. When Molly wakes up she tells her father that she can hear Snowfire galloping toward the ranch and, soon, a whinny is heard from the pasture outside. Mike quietly tells Poco to go and shoot the horse. Molly then reveals that she was briefly with her mother in heaven and how she came to fall off the rock. Realizing that Snowfire is not guilty, Mike rushes to stop Paco, but a shot rings out. However, Paco has missed and Snowfire has returned to the wild.
Later, the Stoner brothers discover Snowfire in a canyon and prepare to set a fire to smoke him out. Carol, now involved with the McGowan family, drives to Mike's ranch to warn Molly and Melodie. While Melodie goes to look for their father, Molly rides to the canyon and warns Snowfire, but he is concerned about the safety of his fellow animal friends. Mike rides up and smothers the gasoline fuse set by the Stoners, then fights with Buff, but his brothers arrive and knock Mike out. Suddenly, as they reignite the gasoline, Snowfire rushes past them and they chase after him. Molly finds her father and explains that Snowfire had decided to lead the men away from his animal friends. At the ranch, Carol tends to Mike's facial wounds and they kiss. Molly tells Mike that Snowfire has agreed to be their horse as long as he is not branded and can leave at night to see his family. Molly raises a white flag as a signal for Snowfire to come in and, after some anxious minutes, Snowfire arrives and settles in at the ranch.
Arthur H. Nadel
T. T. Tripplett
Snowfire (1958) - Snowfire
When Mike finally manages to rope Snowfire and takes him back to his ranch, he finds both of his young daughters responding dramatically to the horse's presence. Older daughter Melody McGowan (Melody McGowan) feels threatened by the animal, who charges her as she stands on his paddock fence. But younger daughter Molly (Molly McGowan) develops a deep affinity for the animal. When she sees that her father plans to brand Snowfire against her wishes, she rips her shirt off and threatens to take the red hot branding iron to her own flesh. Her father reconsiders.
Molly eventually absconds with Snowfire into the wilderness shielding him from both her father and the rival Hampton rancher Carol, who in the meantime has developed a combative romantic relationship with Mike. Molly is certain the animal talks to her and begins to act as an intermediary between Snowfire and her father, telling him about the horse's intentions and thoughts. At one point Mike summons a psychiatrist in a long seafoam green convertible to treat Molly's "fixation," but the man is no match for the resourceful, determined girl. At the conclusion of the film, as Molly assures her family that Snowfire will end the rivalry over his capture by agreeing to stay with the McGowan family, they are astounded to see the animal leave the wilderness and walk into the McGowan family's compound. All with the condition, says Molly, that Snowfire be allowed to leave the ranch at will to visit his wife and child in the surrounding canyon.
A memorable film for children who saw it on its original 1958 release for its story of the strange telepathic communication between a little girl and a wild horse, Snowfire's legendary status was enhanced by the fact that it was never released on VHS or DVD. Brothers Dorrell and Stuart McGowan, whose production studio was in North La Brea, created the film together and also worked as both producers and directors on the long-running television series Death Valley Days (1952-1975) and Sky King (1951-1962). Dorrell McGowan's daughters Melody and Molly made their acting debut in Snowfire as the sisters who feel very differently about Snowfire. Molly, Melody and Don Megowan also all appeared on several episodes of Death Valley Days.
Filmed on location in Bryce Canyon, Utah at Talley Ranch, Snowfire was later re-edited into a 60 minute television pilot but was never picked up as a television series as the McGowan brothers might have hoped.
Producers: Dorrell McGowan, Stuart E. McGowan (producers)
Directors: Dorrell McGowan, Stuart McGowan
Screenplay: Dorrell McGowan, Stuart E. McGowan (writers)
Cinematography: Brydon Baker
Art Direction: Alfeo Bocchicchio
Music: Albert Glasser
Film Editing: Arthur H. Nadel, Jerry Young
Cast: Don Megowan (Mike McGowan), Molly McGowan (Molly McGowan), Claire Kelly (Carol Hampton), John L. Cason (Buff Stoner), Mike Vallon (Poco), Melody McGowan (Herself).
by Felicia Feaster
Snowfire (1958) - Snowfire
Although this film was released in color, only a black-and-white print was available for viewing. The last title card in the opening onscreen credits reads: "Written, Produced and Directed by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart McGowan." Dorrell and Stuart were brothers. The order of the opening cast credits differs from the order of the cast list at the end. "Snowfire" is not seen or heard talking.
According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Snowfire played at the Cannes Film Festivalin May 1957 as a last minute, special entry. The Variety review noted that Snowfire had been shot a year or more earlier than its general release in and around Bryce Canyon, UT, and that a television pilot had been edited from the same footage. The review also stated that Molly and Melodie McGowan were Dorrell McGowan's daughters.