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After helplessly witnessing his father's death, in a fiery car accident, 14-year-old California boy Ronny Howard (as Chris Long) goes into shock. Overcoming some grief, young Howard must adjust to life with a new stepfather, Earl Holliman (as Cal Fitch). Although Mr. Holliman tries to be fatherly, he only opens old wounds. Howard wants his real father. That is not possible, but could Howard have a dog? Mr. Holliman turns his stepson's request down, as a dog's presence would disrupt Holliman sheep ranching business. When Howard finds a "wild dog", wounded in the woods, he is defiantly determined to keep the animal. This puts young Howard at odds with his stepfather
"Smoke" is a great story; it's one of those symbolic animal tales Disneyland favors, and can do well. This one surely benefits from William Corbin's original book (adapted by John Furia Jr.) - the young man's transference of love to, and identification with, the wounded animal is nicely done. But, the story's more subtle symbolism (like the "fox in the hen-house") is even better. Howard and Holliman are outstanding, as the disconnected son and stepfather. Of course, Howard uses his acting education from years of appearing in Andy Griffith's "Mayberry"; still, this is a strong, individual characterization. With Jacqueline Scott, Pamelyn Ferdin, and Andy Devine in the cast, "Smoke" is cute and irresistible.
******* Smoke, pt 1 (2/1/70) Vincent McEveety ~ Ron Howard, Earl Holliman, Jacqueline Scott
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