CineSavant Column

Saturday April 24, 2021



A welcome link from correspondent and home video executive Ulrich Bruckner came in a bit ago, a seventeen-minute interview piece called Anthony Mann 1967 – Action Speaks Louder Than Words. It was filmed while the director was directing his final feature A Dandy in Aspic; Mann died before finishing the movie, and this rather good career overview was one of the few times he went on camera to talk about himself. Although never a household name Mann was a highly respected Hollywood veteran, best known for a string of highly successful James Stewart westerns. But he also had a solid theatrical background, gave us a score of terrific films noir and moved on to direct epics in the 1960s. The critic interviewing Mann is Paul Mayersberg of Movie magazine, later a noted screenwriter.



What?  You’re dying to see a show about an incredibly intelligent horse and dog?  Reviewer Lee Broughton forwards this link to a half-hour TV show I never before heard of called Champion The Wonder Horse. It’s the typical ’50s kiddie fantasy about a boy on a ranch who has not only a German shepherd that does everything Lassie can do, but also has a magic friendship with a wild mustang, Champion. I hope this isn’t too much to take in all at once. I say ‘magic’ because both the dog and the horse obey complicated commands, like ‘go get the Major!’   The horse even intuits when the kid goes blind. Lee says that this one-season series is presently being screened on UK TV.

It’s a fun show in itself, and well produced and directed. Lee pointed it out because western star Lee Van Cleef is the guest villain, doing what he does best. This is way before Cleef attained stardom, and it looks like it’s also before he hurt his back, because he doesn’t have any trouble riding a horse. It’s pretty funny when Cleef is arrested — the horse prods him repeatedly, like a prison guard.

American TV shows routinely imagined animals able to distinguish between right and wrong. I think the animals’ first order of business would be getting rid of treacherous humans.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson