Cast & Crew
Rob McLaughlin, an unsentimental, disciplined ex-Army man, struggles to make a success of his Wyoming horse ranch. Despite reassurances from his wife Nell, Rob worries that Ken, their ten-year-old son, will never outgrow his dreamy, clumsy nature and become a good student and productive worker. Ken is obsessed with having a colt of his own, but after the boy carelessly causes the horses to stampede as they are being rounded up, Rob angrily rejects Ken's request. Later, Rob frets over the ranch's mounting bills and worries that the herd will be ruined by the "loco" strain introduced by a wild albino stallion. Nell interrupts Rob and pleads with him to give Ken a colt, saying that he needs the opportunity to prove himself and learn responsibility. Rob reluctantly acquiesces, and the next day, Ken chooses the beautiful year-old filly of Rocket, one of the albino strain. Rob voices his disapproval, telling Ken that the filly will be "loco" like her mother, but Ken insists that Rocket's swiftness, and the good sense of Banner, the filly's father, have produced a fine horse. Ken names the filly Flicka, which ranch hand Gus tells him is Swedish for "little girl," and eagerly anticipates winning her friendship. On the day that Flicka and Rocket are to be rounded up, the McLaughlins are visited by neighbor Charley Sargent, who breeds racehorses. Charley is amazed by Rocket's speed and offers to buy her for $500 if Rob can deliver her to his ranch. When Rocket is loaded in the truck, however, she rears in terror and is killed when her head hits the ranch's overhead sign. Furious and heartsick, Rob calls horse broker Williams and arranges to sell all of the albino breed, but Ken still refuses to part with Flicka. When Flicka is brought to the corral, however, she also reacts wildly and cuts herself badly on a barbed-wire fence. Ken again refuses to believe that Flicka is as untamable as Rocket and gently tends to the filly while she heals. As time passes, Ken wins Flicka's confidence and is surprised at how readily she allows him to put a halter on her. One of Flicka's cuts becomes infected, however, and she grows so ill that Rob tells Ken that she must be shot to end her suffering. Rob asks Gus to shoot Flicka when Ken is not present, but Ken sees Gus leave for the pasture and begs him to wait until morning. Ken then sneaks down to Flicka's pasture and spends the night holding her as she lies in the lake. In the morning, the cool water has reduced Flicka's fever, but now Ken is seriously ill. Although Rob still wants to shoot Flicka, Nell asks him to wait, and he goes to check on the young horse. Rob shoots at a maurading mountain lion, and when Ken hears the shot, he assumes that Flicka is dead. Unable to kill Flicka, Rob sits with her throughout the night, and it is her warning nicker that alerts him to the reappearance of the mountain lion. Rob kills the beast and in the morning, takes Ken to the pasture to see Flicka. As the boy happily runs to his horse, Rob admits that Flicka has taught Ken responsibility and inspired him to have more patience and faith.
Country Delight, A Horse
Nevada Chief, A Horse
Hazel Cloud, A Horse
Blendatta, A Horse
Joseph E. Aiken
Francis Edwards Faragoh
Paul S. Fox
Robert E. Goux
Harry M. Leonard
My Friend Flicka
Based on the popular 1941 novel of the same name by Mary O'Hara, My Friend Flicka tells the story of a young boy named Ken (McDowall) and his strong bond with Flicka, an unruly colt on his family's Wyoming ranch. Although Ken's academic underachieving and lack of discipline have been a source of disappointment for his West Point educated father (Preston Foster), his determination to tame and train Flicka gives Ken just the challenge and inspiration that he needs in order to mature.
The timeless coming of age story warmed the hearts of both audiences and critics, helping to make it one of the top box office grossers of 1943. Shot in vibrant Technicolor on location in Utah, My Friend Flicka takes full advantage of the breathtaking mountain scenery, which the New York Times called "as pretty as a picture book."
Twentieth Century-Fox went on to make two sequels to My Friend Flicka based on author Mary O'Hara's follow ups to her original novel. Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945) reunited McDowall and the principal cast from the first film, while Green Grass of Wyoming (1948) featured an entirely different set of actors. Fox also created a successful television series from the franchise called My Friend Flicka that ran 1956-58, and in 2006 the studio introduced a whole new generation to the story with an updated feature film reboot called Flicka starring Tim McGraw, Maria Bello and Alison Lohman.
The original My Friend Flicka from 1943 remains a family friendly classic that will appeal to all ages. Its simple message of love and hope has resonated for over 70 years as each new generation discovers the beauty of this enduring tale.
By Andrea Passafiume
My Friend Flicka
Mary O'Hara's popular book first appeared in condensed versions in the January-February 1941 issue of Story Magazine and in the August 1941 issue of Red Book Magazine. A November 1941 Los Angeles Examiner news item announced that My Friend Flicka had been purchased specifically as a vehicle for Roddy McDowall in recognition of the critical acclaim he received for his role in How Green Was My Valley. According to December 1941 Hollywood Reporter news items, Eugene Forde was originally set to direct the picture, and Michael Wilson had been engaged to work on the screenplay. Information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, indicates that Wilson did not contribute to the finished script, however. A memo in the legal records reveals that Susan Levine was considered for the role of "Hildy." Child actress Diana Hale was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the production, which was filmed on location in Cedar City, UT.
The film became the center of a major conflict between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), two unions which claimed to have jurisdiction over the employment of photographers working on locations outside of California, according to a series of 1942 Hollywood Reporter news items. The situation was further complicated by various regulations enforced by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), an honorary guild, which maintained a strong alliance with IBEW. Director of photography Edward Cronjager began production on the film, but his removal from the project was demanded by IATSE, to which he did not belong. Cronjager was replaced by Virgil Miller, who resigned from IATSE in response to ASC and IBEW protests. Miller was in turn replaced by Dewey Wrigley after IATSE again complained to the studio. Wrigley, who belonged to IATSE, was suspended from the ASC after he accepted the My Friend Flicka job, which meant that he would not be able to work in California upon the company's return from its location site. Both IBEW and IATSE threatened Twentieth Century-Fox with strikes if they were not recognized as possessing sole jurisdiction over first cameramen. For its part, the studio declared that it would hold any hindering organization responsible for the $7,500 per day costs if production was delayed. Upon the company's return to Los Angeles from Utah, the ASC did permit Wrigley to continue working on the picture.
McDowall and Rita Johnson appeard with George Brent in a June 7, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story. On November 4, 1948, Claude Jarmon starred in The Hallmark Playhouse's radio broadcast of the story. O'Hara wrote two sequels to My Friend Flicka, both of which were filmed by Twentieth Century-Fox. In 1945, McDowall, Johnson, Preston Foster, James Bell and Diana Hale reprised their roles for Thunderhead, Son of Flicka, which was directed by Louis King. In 1948, Robert Arthur, Lloyd Nolan and Geraldine Wall took over the roles of the McLaughlins for Green Grass of Wyoming, which was again directed by King. For its first television production venture, Twentieth Century-Fox made a series based on O'Hara's characters, entitled My Friend Flicka, which ran from 1956 to 1958, first on the CBS network and then the NBC network. The series featured Johnny Washbrook, Anita Louise and Gene Evans as the McLaughlin family. Another adaptation of O'Hara's book, directed by Michael Mayer and entitled Flicka, was released by Twentieth Century Fox in October 2006. The 2006 film starred Alison Lohman, Tim McGraw and Maria Bello.