While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion that is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a deserted island. He befriends it, so when finally rescued both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once successful trainer. Together they begin training the horse to race against the fastest ones in the world.
_**Aesthetically pleasing, but dramatically dull**_ A boy befriends a fiery Arabian stallion in the Mediterranean in 1946 and ends up hooking up with an ex-horse racing trainer (Mickey Rooney) back home in the northeast USA. Teri Garr plays the mother. "The Black Stallion" (1979) starts out like Tarzan’s origin, just substituting the horse for the apes, before switching to the typical sports formula (young underdog’s talent is recognized and trained by an over-the-hill mentor). Thankfully, this is not a Disney kiddie flick; the tone is artistic and mature with the same visual/audio wonder of “The Secret Garden” (1993), both movies produced by Francis Ford Coppola. While it’s as aesthetically awesome as “The Secret Garden,” it’s not as dramatically engaging. Teri Garr's role is negligible and Rooney’s character isn’t interesting like, say, Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid” (1984) or even Nick Nolte’s ‘Socrates’ in “Peaceful Warrior” (2006). Either Garr’s part needed beefed up or the scriptwriters should’ve added another character to the mix, like a girl who befriends the boy, but SOMETHING to keep things compelling. As it is, the story is too dull to maintain the interest of most people over 7 years-old. But the stallion is magnificent and I appreciated the relationship between boy & beast, not to mention the excellent post-war era décor and the afore-noted artistic exquisiteness. The film runs 1 hour, 57 minutes, and was shot in Sardinia, Italy (island sequences), and the Toronto area of Canada, with some stuff done in northwest Oregon (Astoria, Gearhart and Nehalem). GRADE: C+