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The Littlest Horse Thieves (1976)

Escape from the Dark (original title)
G | | Family, Drama | 11 March 1977 (USA)
When the owner of a Yorkshire coal-mine decides to mechanize to increase profits, the mine's pit ponies are scheduled to be destroyed. So, three children plan to steal them to keep them ... See full summary »


Charles Jarrott


Burt Kennedy (story), Rosemary Anne Sisson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alastair Sim ... Lord Harrogate
Peter Barkworth ... Richard Sandman
Maurice Colbourne Maurice Colbourne ... Luke Armstrong
Susan Tebbs Susan Tebbs ... Violet Armstrong
Andrew Harrison Andrew Harrison ... Dave Sadler
Chloe Franks ... Alice Sandman
Benjie Bolgar Benjie Bolgar ... Tommy Sadler
Prunella Scales ... Mrs. Sandman
Leslie Sands Leslie Sands ... Foreman Sam Carter
Joe Gladwin ... Bert
Jeremy Bulloch ... Ginger
Derek Newark Derek Newark
Duncan Lamont
Ian Hogg
Richard Warner


When the owner of a Yorkshire coal-mine decides to mechanize to increase profits, the mine's pit ponies are scheduled to be destroyed. So, three children plan to steal them to keep them safe. But when they're caught, it's up to the mine owners and the miners themselves to decide what's right. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Three Daring Adventurers! Clever enough to outsmart a town...brave enough to save it!


Family | Drama


G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 March 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Littlest Horse Thieves See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film's working title was "Pit Ponies". See more »

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User Reviews

Gallant little pony
4 February 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

This British film from the Disney Studios is a real sleeper. Although Alastair Sim in what would turn out to be the last theatrically released film of his career is top billed, his is really a supporting role. I doubt most on this side of the pond would know any of the cast members other than Sim, but the real stars are three kids and a Shetland pony, one of many ponies that is used in the Yorkshire coal mines in the beginning years of the last century.

In the mines the little ponies are used to take the coal out but Sim has hired Peter Barkworth as a new manager and he wants to bring in automatic conveyor machines to take the coal out. What happens to the faithful ponies, most likely sent to the slaughterhouse for pet food.

That does not sit well with Barkworth's daughter Chloe Franks and her new friends Andrew Harrison and Benjie Bolgar who are miner's kids. The three steal the ponies. I won't say more but the ponies prove their worth in the end.

This Disney film raises some real adult labor management issues and also issues about the ethical treatment of animals. Among the other issues that are raised is the ponies develop eye trouble and even blindness from exposure to coal dust. It's what happens to the kid's favorite pony. And I guarantee when you see the sacrifice this pony makes on behalf of its human masters you will not have a dry eye for days.

This film should be better known. It's for kids and kids of all ages. And the review is dedicated to one Amber Small, the most dedicated animal activist I know.

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