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The Red Pony (1949)

Passed | | Drama, Family, Western | 28 March 1949 (USA)
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)

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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 »

Filming Locations:

Agoura, California, USA 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?


The 81-day shooting schedule was at the time the longest and costliest for Republic Pictures. 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 »


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


Marche Militaire
(1818) (uncredited)
Written by Franz Schubert
Played on piano by Myrna Loy
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Red Pony" features rustic Aaron Copland score...
29 January 2008 | by Neil DoyleSee all my reviews

THE RED PONY is a beautifully photographed Technicolor film from Republic starring MYRNA LOY and ROBERT MITCHUM, accompanied by one of Aaron Copland's most distinctive background scores. It has wonderful credentials in that it's based on a series of John Steinbeck stories and is directed by Lewis Milestone.

For all that, the story of a farm boy's growing awareness of the cruelties of nature and the fallibility of men--even good men like Mitchum who can't always make the best of a bad situation--lacks any dramatic vigor it may have had if it wasn't directed in such a casual, slow-moving fashion and cluttered with small moments that detract from the main storyline.

Atmospherically, it's rich in farm detail, filmed on a real ranch and capturing the look of country life with effortless ease. Little PETER MILES plays the boy capably enough, but it's ROBERT MITCHUM as the ranch hand who feels he's failed the boy when the pony dies, who gives the truest, most believable performance in the film.

MYRNA LOY and SHEPPERD STRUDWICK are a bit too solemn as the rather remote parents and LOUIS CALHERN is allowed a little too many blustery moments as the grandfather living on his past exploits.

Summing up: It's the sort of film you wish could have been better, never quite living up to its rich potential.

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