I was never a huge fan of Marguerite Henry's books, so I haven't read San Domingo: The Medicine Hat Stallion and can't make any comparisons between the book and the movie, staring teen heartthrob Leif Garrett.
This movie had me for the first thirty minutes. It had a strange androgynous boy who is torn between varying hair styles, an alpha father figure who cannot show love, a mother who makes perfect wool shirts that look suspiciously machine made and store bought, and an Indian pony. What more do I want out of Westerns aimed primarily at children?
Well, they could have cut the singing. That would have been a helpful start. Once Peter falls off the house and breaks a few ribs (alpha father rolls his eyes), a kindly random singing person shows up with a hoard of various animals and serves as the father figure Peter's never going to get. And I totally tuned out. At some point, William Cody shows up and Peter gets involved in the Pony Express, and Domingo is traded for a Thoroughbred, and Peter puts the kiddie toys away, and his dad eventually gives him a shaving kit, and all is well!
That is pretty much what I took away from this movie. It was like Little House on the Prairie, to a certain extent. Just without the running through flowers and family bonding.
- At one point, Peter's father arrives home "two days early" and speaks in metaphor for an entire dinner conversation. Hey, Jethro, you could have just said plainly that you killed a man and took his horse because you've had this poisonous mindset bent on revenge. Peter's mom tries to make sense of this lunacy, but Peter just looks at his dad like he's totally lost it, which is exactly the case.
- Eventually, Peter's mom pulls him aside and tells him the story of why his father is adorably insane. Oh, what being mauled by a bear and left for dead by a stranger will do to a person.
- Peter's hair styles crack me up. At first, he's going for a ponytail and a headband, which I can live with. However, by the end of the movie he's decided to go with both a ponytail and pigtail braids. Do you know how hard it is to take a movie seriously when its main character is running around with a ponytail and pigtail braids?