He Would Not Have Qualified As A Pony Express Rider.
This film, made for television, and for an audience of children, was initially titled THE MEDICINE HAT STALLION, for its video release as ROUGH RIDER, and revolves about the newly organized Pony Express, immediately before the outbreak of hostilities that launched the War Between The States, with its plot focussing upon a 15 year old boy, Peter Lundy (Leif Garrett), who lives at his father's trading post in Nebraska Territory, including his adventures after he leaves his home to pledge loyalty to the fledgling mail delivery service. Young Peter yearns to break loose from beneath the control of his stern father Jethro (Mitchell Ryan), who operates the trading post on the North Platte River, and when an opportunity comes to be an Express rider, he takes it despite the disapproval of his sire. Peter has trained his own mount, an erstwhile Pawnee stallion he has named Domingo, and after he begins employment as a rider, the youth is propelled into manhood through a series of exploits. Based upon Marguerite Henry's novel for young readers, the work is filmed in New Mexico and benefits from some first-rate production values, in particular those pertinent to matters of historical research, and is photographed very effectively in Panavision; however, a torpid tone is maintained throughout and deployment of a small, illy conditioned crew of "Indian" extras is not useful. Although there are fine turns contributed by John Quade as the post blacksmith, Milo O'Shea as an eccentric surveyor and, notably, Ryan with a fascinating reading as the tormented senior Lundy, the affair flags whenever the androgynous Garrett is on screen, because he simply does not convince as a stalwart pioneer lad.
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