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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

True story behind the movie....

Author: ( from Sacramento, California
17 February 2000

To any Bess fans...

Here is the true story behind how Bess was saved and how the movie came to be...

The movie script was written around the true story of a man named Arthur Parker, born and raised by Joseph Parker on a horse ranch in the late 1800s/early 1900s in Montana. At age 16, Art lied about his age to join the U.S. Navy, and began his long military career, personally knowing Pancho Villas in the Spanish-American War, and serving in World War I. He later earned his wings as one of the Navy's earliest enlisted aviators, and eventually became friends with Charles Lindbergh and helped in the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis. Rivets that he punched by hand while helping in the construction of the aircraft can still be seen in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

Art was on active duty and was actually in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day in 1941 that signaled American involvement in W.W.II and received a Purple Heart due to injuries sustained during the attack. Towards the end of his career as an active duty serviceman, and after having achieved the highest enlisted rank of Chief Boatswain, Art was stationed in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

A sugar cane farmer that had befriended Art due to their mutual interest and previous experience in rearing horses contacted Art after a Japanese air raid. A filly and foal had become injured by flying shrapnel from the falling Japanese bombs. Though the foal was terminally infected at this point, the filly was rescued and returned to full health, with only minimal scarring on one rear quarter. Having raised and trained horses on his father's ranch as a child, Art raised and quickly trained "Bess", and she became a pet and unit mascot, sleeping among the sailors in Art's camp, and being treated to morning coffee and other treats, just like the other sailors. She was also quickly trained to flee to a sandbagged cave that the sailors constructed for her for protection when the air raid sirens blared, hence the nick name "Foxhole Flicca" (not her real name).

When Art was ordered to return to the U.S. at the end of his tour, he was denied repeated attempts for permission to transport Bess to the U.S. on government ships until the First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt, learned of the story, and quickly, a stall and hay were fashioned and stored aboard ships for the horse and master for their trip back stateside.

Upon reaching the States, and the story about her rescue and transport to the U. S. became circulated, Bess and Art were, in circles, celebrities. Art and Bess toured with the U.S.O., with Bess performing stage tricks, such as counting, etc.

Shortly after the U.S.O. tours, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contacted Art in regards to a movie based on his experiences saving Gallant Bess (her true full name). Though the movie bears minimal resemblance to the actual rescue and story, further pictures were planned based on "The Adventures of Gallant Bess", but due to contractual disputes between Art and MGM (the movie "Gallant Bess" did not follow the true story, as had been initially promis ed Art by MGM, though Art did act as an advisor to the movie. Bess did star as herself, and Art did have a cameo role in the movie, calming Bess in a scene where the actor Marshall Thomas, playing the role of Art, couldn't calm Bess during a violent storm, but the character Art played, could.), Art refused to work with MGM.

Bess, with Art as her trainer and master, went on to star in other movies with actors such as Charles Lindbergh (a close family friend by now), Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, and others, and eventually retired in Grass Valley, California, in the late 1950s.

Bess gave birth to Gallant Pat in the early 1960s and was put to sleep at the University of California, Davis, around 1967 due to a brain tumor. Arthur Parker subsequently died of natural causes in 1983, at age 86.

Shortly before graduating high school while on a "date" with my father, my mother entered the barn holding my father's and grandfather's horses. On the floor at the door of the entrance to the barn was a cemented plaque that stated "The Home Of Gallant Bess". Mom asked Dad why they had named one of their horses after the movie, and Dad told Mom the movie was named after Grandpa Art's horse, Gallant Bess.

That's the true story of how Grandpa Art rescued Bess (though I never knew her, Dad, Mom, and Uncle Richard all rode her as kids).

Though the entire story behind Grandpa's adventures sound like the script to an all-too-cliche' movie, the story is all true. Amazing as it is, it's a wonder that MGM forsaw the need to change any part of it to make "Gallant Bess" seem any more spectacular.

If you are lucky enough to ever come across a copy of the movie, my family would greatly appreciate information as to how you got it. We have albums of autographed pictures of Liz Taylor riding Bess, Judy Garland on Grandpa's lap, as a kid, and memorabilia from Charles Lindburgh, and from filming the movie "Gallant Bess", including the original contract signed by MGM agents and Grandpa' Art, though no one has been able to attain a copy of the movie itself.

I have attempted several attempts to find out who now owns the rights to the movie, and from what I understand, TCM (Turner Classic Movies, Ted Turner) owns the rights. I have inquired TCM on several attempts, with full explanation as to my connection to the movie, as to where I might get a copy of the movie for familial archives, but have never even received a courtesy reply.

Again, any comments, further true accounts or corrections to this post may be directed to my email address, Any help in finding a copy of the movie, or input from anyone involved with the movie or any of the other events would be greatly appreciated and welcomed by me and my family.


Chris Parker

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A war story... a horse story... a war horse story

Author: Silver Dollar from Arizona, USA
24 January 2005

My mother drove me to school, one morning when I was nine. On the way, she mystified me by announcing she'd pick me up early. She wouldn't say why, just smiled and said it'd be a surprise. In my family, you did't skip school for anything less than snow, illness, or death. so this was odd.

I wondered about the surprise thing all morning. At noon, Mom picked me up and drove me home. My favorite lunch was waiting on the table. I thought that was the surprise, but no, she said, something else was yet to come....

After lunch, she planted the two of us in front of the TV and told me, "There's a special movie on, this afternoon. I want you to see it."

It was "Gallant Bess."

I was a horse-crazy little girl with my own horse standing in a corral out back, but I remember being extraordinarily touched by "Gallant Bess." The adults in my life were still talking about WWII as if it'd just happened, so that seemed very close to me, too. I felt for that farm boy who lost his mare, Bess, to the WWII cause, and found her again, in what I was told was based on a true story. By the end, I was so caught up in empathizing with that young man and the horse, the ending seemed scary and amazing and is still clear in my mind's eye.

I suppose, compared to the high-tech, computer-enhanced images of today's films, "Gallant Bess" may seem mild. Those were simpler times. Maybe the acting's not outstanding, but there's a goodly amount of action and suspense.

This film impressed my mother so much that she took me out of school to see it. Once I'd seen it, I understood why. If you like a moving animal story, or if you've got a horse-crazy little kid in your house, y'all should see it, too.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Based on a true story

Author: misterpex-1 from United States
7 December 2006

Some people are unsure if Gallant Bess is based on a true story or not.

It is. Sort of.

The second half of the movie, when Tex rescues a horse during the war, was based on my grandfather's rescue of Bess while on the Solomon Islands during WWII.

Bess starred as herself in the movie, ie, the horse that was really rescued was the horse in the movie.

Search for "Gallant Bess" for the article I am writing regarding the true story.

Glad to see people out there still enjoy this movie! I tease my dad, who's father was Bess' master ("Tex" in the movie) and who rode Bess all the time as a kid, about having cried when he saw the movie for the first time as a kid.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

No mere "horse story" BUT a TRUE STORY...

Author: tandjtrainor from TN
9 January 2004

I wish that I could remember the title of the book, but I remember checking it out severals times as a kid and reading it cover to cover. The book had actual photos of Bess delivering water to the seabees and her jumping straight off the ground while under attack by Japanese. It showed her retired in a lush pasture in KY. I enjoyed the movie as much as the book!!

It is the best horse story out there.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This is one of my all time favorite horse movies

Author: sashamarie from Orland California U.S.A.
26 August 2002

I saw this movie as a young horse crazy girl. It was a tear jerker and heart warmer. A beautiful story of friendship and the loyalty of a magnificent animal and the hardships of war. I get teary eyed just thinking about the story. I hope that someday it will be available on video or DVD. I would love for my son to be able to see it. If you are lucky enough to see it, it is well worth the tissues.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Get this movie released!

Author: anahorst44 from United States
11 June 2007

This is one of my all time favorites. I have vivid memories of how Bess went from tank to tank with the water buckets. Then the horrible storm scene. I have tried for years to find this movie, Gypsy Colt, Black Gold, and others. All of us who enjoy this movie need to write TNT & have it released. How can they keep a wonderful movie like this from so many who want it? Especially the family, I am really surprised at that! I really want my child to enjoy it just as I had. Since I do not have cable or Dish, it is very difficult to have access to the classics. If someone was able to catch it on late night TV, and got it recorded, please e-mail me!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Gallant Bess - a terrific movie!!

Author: purfectgrace from United States
9 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have been a horse lover for all my life. I saw Gallant Bess on black and white TV many years ago. I did a google search hoping to find out if it had been released on DVD. This is a story told the way stories were told back in the good old days. There was a plot. There were emotional scenes that tore your heart apart but at the end all was put back together and all was right with the world. Bad was bad and good was good. Right was right and wrong was wrong. If you love animals you would love this movie. If you love a good cry, it fills the bill. And if you love crying from happiness you will love it more. If you think this is something you would like to see, how about contacting Ted Turner's group and letting him know you'd appreciate a good one re-released from the past. Thanks for the background info too! I really want to see this one again, especially since I know Gallant Bess really lived!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I am a huge Gallant Bess fan from Australia

Author: ( from Australia
31 July 2003

I am a huge Gallant Bess fan from Australia. I haven't seen this movie for 35 years, but still remember it was one of the best movies of all time. I am desperately trying to locate a copy of this movie to keep so if anyone reads this that can help I will be forever in your debt. I too have a daughter that I want so badly to show this movie to, please if anyone can help me, contact me. Thank you to imdb web site for finding me some more info on Gallant Bess.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

glad to see others are looking for this movie

Author: snoop-dawg from Martinez, CA
16 October 2003

I am glad to see that there are other people out there looking for this wonderful movie. I also have been looking for it for 45 years. I saw it advertised as showing on tv last year and was so excited, only to tune it in and find it wasn't on. Hopefully someone, somewhere has this movie on tape. If so, I would be glad to pay for it. I have a collection of horse movies, being a horse-a-holic myself, and have been looking for this movie for years. it is truly one of my favorites, and one of the best tear jerkers i've seen.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I Finally Saw Gallant Bess this Weekend After 40 years.

Author: skippylc ( from trenton, MI
12 January 2003

This is such a great movie. I had a friend contact Bridgestone, (I think that is the name) a company that sometimes is able to put movies on tape for sale. I guess they get permission although I have no idea how it works. But I heard the company couldn't or wouldn't get Gallant Bess taped. Anyway, it finally aired on January 11 on Turner Classic movies and I taped most of it. I missed the credits. But now I have a copy for my daughter. We loved it. It was the first time I had seen it in 40 some years. I was thrilled. I felt like a kid again. I urge anyone that loves a good old horse story to get Turner Classic Movies to release it. Or at least air it more on TV. It is a cool story for Veterans Day or Memorial Day too. Good luck.

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