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Black Beauty

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Black Beauty (1971)

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Additional Information
The Immortal Classic - Filmed in Ireland and Spain

Based on the novel by Anna Sewell

This internationally produced adaptation of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is essentially a vehicle for Oliver star Mark Lester. The young Lester spends most of the film trying to reclaim his beautiful black horse, which passes through several hands over the course of 90 minutes. All the setpieces of the Sewell original are in attendance, including the showstopping "burning barn" sequence. Walter Slezak is the only truly recognizable actor in the film outside of Lester

Black Beauty is a mare who, as a foal in England, is befriended by a boy named Joe. After being stolen by a squire who is later killed, she is acquired by gypsies, who then sell her to a Spanish circus. In the circus, she learns many tricks before being given to Sir William, then passed to Sir William's daughter and her fiance. Black Beauty then travels to India with the daughter's fiance to fight for Britain, where the fiance is killed and the horse becomes a war horse through her bravery and willingness to charge. She is shipped back to England, but is then sold, acquires pneumonia and begins hauling a coal wagon. At her most ill, she is rescued by a friendly old woman and her employee. The employee turns out to be the boy named Joe who Black Beauty knew when she was a foal, while the woman is Anna Sewell (author of the original Black Beauty book).

Roger Ebert was overall complimentary of the film, and believed the re-telling of the book remained true to the original aims of the author, although changing the actual biography of the horse. According to Ebert, James Hill's version of Black Beauty is "more than just an animal movie". Ebert was also generally complimentary of the human actors in the movie, although he panned the performance of Mark Lester as Joe. He gave the film three out of four stars.[1] A review in the New York Times also commented on the major plot changes, but called the movie "uncommonly interesting, handsome and sometimes quite marvelously inventive". The review praised the atmosphere of the movie and the performances of several actors in secondary roles, but called the performances of Mark Lester and Walter Slezak "utterly pedestrian"

Release Date: November 24, 1971


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