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an all family movie from the 60's If you were ever a horse crazy youngster and want to see a film with a bunch of beautiful horses and a Benji looking dog. here it is... although you will have it all figured out in advance, it is an entertaining, fun flick. all are happy, all ends well for everyone in this film. there is no downside unless you die from the sugar in it all. You will see a real young Kurt Russell as Dean Jones' daughters' boyfriend too,then you can check how he looks nowadays in his more mature adult roles, like Stargate etc. If you want to show your kids or grandkids a time when the hard facts of life were set aside in favor of some light entertainment and that all movies don't have portray "real Life" this is one of them. Disney was so good at bringing out fairy tales and just nice movies. Another thing i always liked was seeing events that do not occur anywhere around where i lived. Eastern style riding, the clothes, the events held and even the horses are alien to what we see out here in the western u.s. I am used to rodeos and quarter horses, and have yet to see an actual steeplechase, or sulky race or folks togged out for fox hunting. Even the jumping events that are in this show are not commonly found here in the rocky Mountains. So watching it is kind of extra fun, because it is not common here.
Dean Jones is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood; every part he plays is imbued with his own brand of sincerity. Catch him in this film; he never makes a false step. Diane Baker plays the riding instructor and Dean's love interest, and she's also fantastic. This is a quiet, well-made film, typical of Disney and the quality stuff he put out. I still enjoy watching this movie, and it's a great family film.
Making a play on the Gregory Peck/Jennifer Jones film of the Fifties,
The Horse With The Grey Flannel Suit is about an advertising man who
thinks of a brilliant idea to help his daughter with her horseback
riding hobby. A most expensive proposition if one owns one's own horse
as Ellen Janov's riding instructor Diane Baker suggests.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brassy acting, bright colors, overflowing comedy and excessive emotion
was the name of the game in their comedies of the 1960's and 70's. They
produced a style of film for 20 years from 1959's "The Absent Minded
Professor" through the last of the "Love Bug" series that scream "take
it down a notch". It's well meaning family fare, but the films more
often than not quickly date, having an attitude that if you watch it
for five minutes after missing the credits, you can tell it's Disney.
They aren't, in most cases, bad films, but there's no doubt that they
just went a bit too far, having themes or settings, that weren't always
the dreamland of "Mary Poppins" or "Bedknobs and Broomsticks".
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.
I saw this film from the library. I loved it. This is a Dean Jones and "Herbie" flick. But this Herbie which I am talking about is his dog, not his car. Ellen Janov portrayed the teenage daughter, Helen Bolton. Kurt Russell did a really good part as Ronnie Gardner, Helen Bolton's boyfriend. Dean Jones is really fun to watch. He portrays Fred Bolton, who works for a pharmaceutical company. Aspercel is the name of the horse. I love the setting of this film. Like all Disney Classic live movies, I find this one enjoyable. I've always loved Dean Jones and Kurt Russell. Suzy Clemens, portrayed by Diane Baker is the equestrian instructor. She teaches how to ride a horse. If you see this movie, you'll be entertained.
While The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit is not great cinema by any
means, it will appeal to horse lovers. I enjoyed it, and if I had seen
it as a kid I bet I would have loved it. The horse that plays Aspercel
is gorgeous, and there is lots of handsome horseflesh around in
general. I miss how movies used to feature horses that looked like what
they were meant to be (this movie, the Black Stallion) instead of using
another breed or different type and assuming the public wouldn't notice
if it didn't look or perform like it ought (Black Beauty, Seabiscuit).
Also, the riding looks reasonably realistic and the action is fairly
accurate to what hunters and jumpers do (and did then).
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.
The whole set-up of this contrived Disney family film (ad-exec gets his teenage daughter a horse because she "wants one more than anything else in the world") is just an excuse to film the big climactic horse-show at the end. All the other ingredients (the ad campaign for the stomach pill, Kurt Russell as a potential boyfriend for the youngster, Lloyd Bochner as a potential rival for Dean Jones over the affections of Diane Baker) are shelved near the end simply to showcase the horse. Over half the picture is padding, and worse: it is whiny and obnoxious. The kid is the ninny-sort who cries on the couch with a dog in her arms, and as usual she gets her way. * from ****
This film was billed as a commedy, but one is hard-pressed to really call it that. There were hardly any laughs during the film and really no comical scenes. The girl is all right, but she's one of those weepy types that make you sick at times. Dean Jones is ok, and he comes across as sincere, but I've seen him do better in other, much better films than this. It was also disappointing that the potential plot lines are there but they are never used to their fullest. It would have made the film much better. About the only thing it seemed the film wanted us to enjoy was watching horse run around and jump high fences. That GETS BORING after a little while. The romantic angle of the film was also poorly done. It seems like it was stuck in there, just to add zest to an otherwise boring film. I definitely wouldn't want to watch it twice and I would never recommend anybody renting it or buying it.
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