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The suit is Dean Jones and no one tries to put the horse in a suit. His idea which he pitches to the owner of the advertising firm is to buy a horse and train it as a show horse and have it win the junior riding championship in Washington, DC. Along the way and quite by accident with Dean Jones discovering it rather uncomfortably, they find out that the horse is a jumper which opens all kinds of new possibilities.
Jones and Baker are a nice fit in the leads and Ellen Janov is good as the daughter who does come over like a real kid. Maybe she was just a kid and it wasn't acting. Her career was over shortly and I read with sadness that she died in a fire in the next decade.
This film was also the farewell big screen appearance of Fred Clark who mastered the slow burn as if he understudied Edgar Kennedy. Clark plays Jones's boss who is inpatient to see results in the form of publicity. The horse's name is Aspercel which is a generic tummy pain medication they're trying to sell. I wish the film had more of Morey Amsterdam who plays a rather madcap ad man.
The Horse In The Grey Flannel Suit may yet see a remake from The Magic Kingdom. I can see Jim Carrey for instance in the Dean Jones role. Until then, this will do nicely.
The human performances are okay--all about what you'd expect from a 1960s Disney movie with such a goofy premise. Young Kurt Russell is cute as a button and just as likable as he is today.
Disney films introduced me to the smarmy businessman and his "yes men", with "Mr. Big" usually Keenan Wynn, but here the snarky Fred Clark. Among his yes men are Morey Amsterdam and Dean Jones, both of them speaking as if talking to the third balcony, hopefully not swallowing flies as they brayed their lines with overly wide mouth movements. Jones is the too busy to notice father of Ellen Javov, a shy teenager interested in horses. He's too busy pill pushing, here trying to come up with a new slogan for a huge pill (purpose unclear) and names a horse he buys for Javov after that obnoxious pill. To get a promotion to VP, Jones pushes his daughter to win three medals to get to DC and finds himself up against his daughter's teacher, the beautiful Diane Baker. Superdad Jones gets in over his head, and hopefully learns to do these things out of love for his daughter, and calm down his frenetic acting before moving onto Broadway for the upcoming musical "Company".
In spite of the frantic pacing and in your face acting, this turns out to be rather entertaining, if not slightly overlong. Sadly, Javov would die tragically at a very young age (having only made one film), and she's more subtle than many of the veteran players. Rambunctious Kurt Russell plays her all American boyfriend, with Lurene Tuttle amusing as Jones' feisty aunt. Veteran character actress Nydia Westman has a cute cameo as the old lady in the elevator looking for the tenth floor. Typical farce, chase sequences and comical chaos helps this move along, although a 15 minute trimming might have helped this be a bit tighter.