19 user 12 critic

The Red Pony (1949)

A ranch boy is gifted with a colt, grows to love him but the colt escapes, with tragic results.


Lewis Milestone


John Steinbeck (by), John Steinbeck (screen play)

On Disc

at Amazon




Complete credited cast:
Myrna Loy ... Alice Tiflin
Robert Mitchum ... Billy Buck
Louis Calhern ... Grandfather
Shepperd Strudwick ... Mr. Fred Tiflin
Peter Miles Peter Miles ... Tom
Margaret Hamilton ... Teacher
Melinda Byron ... Jinx Ingals (as Patty King)
Jackie Jackson Jackie Jackson ... Jackie
Beau Bridges ... Beau
Don Reynolds Don Reynolds ... Little Brown Jug (as Little Brown Jug)
Nino Tempo Nino Tempo ... Nino
Tommy Sheridan Tommy Sheridan ... Dale


In the coast range mountains on the western edge of the Salinas Valley is a ranch where Tom, a lad of about ten, longs for a pony. He lives with his mom, who was born there, her dad, a talkative pioneer who misses the old West, Tom's dad Fred Tiflin, who comes from the city and after years on the ranch doesn't feel at home there, and Billy, their trusted hand, a real cowboy. While Fred has to sort out whether he wants to stay a rancher and come to terms with his son being closer to Billy than to himself, Tom gets a pony and learns directly about responsibility and loss. What lessons can each learn, and are tragedy and hard choices all that life offers? Are laughter and joy anywhere? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John Steinbeck's great American story !


Drama | Family | Western


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

28 March 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Steinbeck's The Red Pony See more »


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In one of the school scenes, the children say the Pledge of Allegiance with their right arms extended, pointed toward the flag. This was the Bellamy Salute suggested by Francis Bellamy, who wrote the original version of the Pledge. Due to its similarity to the Nazi and Fascist salute, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the position to hand-over-the-heart. This was later codified into law in 1942. See more »


Alice opens the lunch box to find a small snake inside. The snake is clearly hanging out of the box, but in the next angle it is fully inside. See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Peter Miles as Tom See more »

Alternate Versions

Although all previous UK cinema and video releases were uncut the 2010 Cornerstone DVD suffered 11 secs of cuts to edit shots of Tom holding and shaking a buzzard by its neck. See more »


Referenced in The Mentalist: The Red Ponies (2010) See more »


Shall We Gather at the River?
(1864) (uncredited)
Written by Robert Lowry
Played on piano by Myrna Loy
See more »

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User Reviews

Heroes, Generations, Dreams, Realities and Our Humanity all set against the Legend of the Old West.
24 November 2008 | by redryan64See all my reviews

Herbert J. Yates presents John Steinbeck's THE RED PONY (Feldman Productions/Milestone Productions/REPUBLIC PICTURES, 1949) Starring Myrna Loy, Robert Mitchum, Louis Calhern. Written by John Steinbeck, Directed by Lewis Milestone, Original Music by Aaron Copland.

REPUBLIC PICTURES, long the mainstay of the "B" Western, the Juvenile Comedy Series and (of course) the Saturday Matinée Serial, occasionally brought out through release a truly remarkable film. Case in point, we present you with The John Ford & Merion C. Cooper Argosy Production of THE QUIET MAN (1952). Films of such stature are rare anywhere and particularly so when produced (at least in part) by an outfit such as "The Thrill Factory". There were many others over the years; but as we said in the whole they were rare.

LIKEWISE we have the case of this John Steinbeck tale of family, generational gaps, hero worship, fraud and ultimate discovery of mutual humanity; with of all its virtues, frailties and foibles notwithstanding. The screen adaptation is a surprisingly successful blending of emotion all around the spectrum. Although we have a setting in the American West , in the early part of the 20th Century, well after the Frontier had been tamed; we find the story to be universally relevant and relative to all in any time, setting or situation.

FOR a project that is at least partially founded in a "poverty row", lesser tiered Hollywood Studio, the film marshals first rate talent from the best of that available. The Cast, featuring such luminaries as: Myrna Loy, Robert Mitchum and Louis Calhern, is equally well supported in the lower portions by fine performers with less well names. Shepherd Standwick, Margaret Hamilton, a young Nino Tempo and an even younger Beau Bridges (yeah, Lloyd's Son, Jeff's Bro). We're also treated to an uncredited appearance by Pro Wrestler, 'Wee Willie' Davis as a truck driver.

THE cinematography is beautiful and the open country natural settings are truly breath taking. Stark realism, as exemplified by the ranch buildings and corrals, barn, etc., receives an outstanding dose of contrast by the finely conceived and rendered dream sequences. One tends to magnify the intensity of the other. The inclusion of the Technicolor Process is used to the utmost level; making for the best and most natural palette on any screen.

LEST we forget our hearing, we must make mention of the beautiful original score composed by Mr. Aaron Copland. The theme and the incidental music, while sounding like vintage Copland, still manages to be a unique overall composition; deserving to be classified as a symphonic masterpiece, had it been written in another era.

IN the hands of veteran Director's Director, Mr. Lewis Milestone, the story manages to Classify itself as being virtually unclassifiable. You'll find no pigeon holing or square and round pegging here. What could well be called a Western, a Comedy, a Coming of Age Tale, a Family Story or a Juvenile Tale, could be and would be classified in any of these categories; ergo, it's in essence none of these.

AND that my dear Schultz, is what we believe to be the real criterion for true, singular classification and uniqueness. That's It and That's All, Story Over!


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