Every year the Chincoteague fire department rounds up the wild ponies of Assateague. island, and then auctions off the colts and yearlings to thin out the herd. A young brother and sister, ...
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Harold D. Schuster
Every year the Chincoteague fire department rounds up the wild ponies of Assateague. island, and then auctions off the colts and yearlings to thin out the herd. A young brother and sister, Paul and Maureen Beebe, have set their hearts on owning one particular wild three-year old pony, The Phantom. Only they have to earn the money, the Phantom has to be captured in the roundup (which she never has), and then they have to outbid everyone else for her in the auction. And even the Phantom herself has a surprise for Paul and Maureen: a foal named Misty. Written by
The movie is partially based on a true story. Misty, a 12-hand palomino tobiano and sabino pinto, was born on July 20, 1946 at the Beebe family farm on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Although Misty was sired and born domestically, her parents -- known as Pied Piper and Phantom -- were wild ponies from nearby Assateague Island. Author Marguerite Henry visited the Beebe farm, and wanted to take Misty back to her home in Illinois, to serve as the model for her next book. Clarence "Grandpa" Beebe agreed to this only after Ms. Henry promised to put his grandchildren, Paul and Maureen, in the book as the main characters. "Misty of Chincoteague" was published in 1947, and was named as a Newberry Honor book. The book became so popular with children that Misty herself was named an honorary member of the American Library Association. Misty lived with Marguerite Henry in Illinois until 1957, when she was sent back to Virginia. She lived on the Beebe farm for the rest of her life, and had three foals: Phantom Wings, Wisp O' Mist, and Stormy -- who also became the subjects of books by Marguerite Henry. Misty died in 1972. Her taxidermized body (and that of her foal, Stormy, who died in 1993) are on display at a museum at the Beebe ranch. See more »
How are we gonna get both The Phantom *and* Misty for a hundred and two dollars and forty cents? Well how can we buy both of them tomorrow?
Well, I've been thinkin' about it. We'll just have to be here around sunup so we can catch the fire chief real early. And I'll just say to him, "Mister Jones, Sir, we wanna buy The Phantom and her filly Misty."
"But we've only got a hundred and two dollars and forty cents."
"We've *earned* a hundred and two dollars in less than four months, and we -"
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As a Marylander, this film is clearly a loving homage to the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague. A darling film, with a cast containing many locals, and actual Beebe family members (and their accents), this film has heart. Had to be a labor of love, or they would have brought in professional actors for it all, and left the look and feel of the locals on the cutting room floor. Instead we get a time capsule of a Mayberry style life, that was unique to the nation. You can still go to the pony crossing, and you can still buy ponies, but after some folk thought they could put the foals in their car trunks for the ride home, things changed, and they cost a lot more than they did then.
My 9-year-old daughter is sitting next to me, here in 2012, transfixed by this 1961 film. A must see.
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