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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Thunderhead: Son of Flicka (1945)

Nelle McLaughlin: "What's going on?"
Ken McLaughlin: "Oh, nothing much, I'm just breaking Goblin, that's all."
Rob McLaughlin: "Are you sure it isn't the other way around?"

- Rita Johnson, Roddy McDowell, Preston Foster

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: February 02, 2005

Stars: Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, Rita Johnson
Other Stars: James Bell, Patti Hale, Carleton Young, Ralph Sanford, Al Bridge, Robert Filmer
Director: Louise King

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:17m:59s
Release Date: February 22, 2005
UPC: 024543148258
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+B+ D+

DVD Review

Reprising their roles as the McLaughlin family, Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, and Rita Johnson return in this sequel to the 1943 My Friend Flicka, based on the stories of Mary O'Hara. Thunderhead: Son of Flicka picks up the story of the wild filly tamed by young Ken (McDowell) on the family ranch.

Flicka is now a mare, and as the story opens, she has gone missing, only to be found with a her newborn colt, who, sporting an all-white coat, is obviously not the son of the ranch's stallion. After rescuing the pair from a thunderstorm, Ken deduces that the father is that of a neighbor, a champion race horse, and convinces his father that he will turn the colt into a racer. Goblin, the colt, however, is even harder to handle than his mother was, challenging Ken's determination to break him.

Eventually Ken succeeds, despite still dealing with the horse's independent temperament, and enters the newly dubbed Thunderhead in a race, acting as his own jockey. Spooked from the start, the two manage to overcome the odds and take the lead, but as the finish line approaches, the horse bolts, losing the race. The cause is soon discovered to be an injury which dashes the dreams of owning a winner, but Thunderhead's true character is exposed when he takes on a rogue and deadly horse known as the Albino, who has been raiding the ranchers' herds, stealing their mares, and killing their stallions. Ken will learn a valuable lesson on what it truly means to have a free spirit.

Filmed in the stunning surroundings of Utah's Bryce Canyon, the film has a similar feel to its predecessor, and while delivering its share of drama, never gets maudlin. The characters are a little softer in tone, especially Ken's father (Foster), who once again sees his son's attempts at taming his horse's wild spirit as a passage into manhood. The pacing is brisk and even, moving through the story naturally. While there isn't really anything outstanding in the way of animal stock, horse lovers will be rewarded with some cute foal footage, and plenty of horses, but parents should be warned that the scenes in which Ken is "breaking" the animal contain some very dangerous techniques that young viewers should understand are not appropriate in real life, and although supervised by the Humaine Society, the climactic horse battle could not be filmed today. Of note to film buffs, Thunderhead: Son of Flicka is the only non-documentary feature to be shot entirely on Technicolor's experimental monopack, a less expensive, low contrast reversal stock that could be used in conventional cameras.

Even though it shows its age somewhat, Thunderhead: Son of Flicka is an enjoyable family feature, and one that children with an interest in horses should thoroughly enjoy.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Considering the unstable stock this film was shot on, the presentation here is quite good. While it does exhibit the deficiencies inherent to the film in its black levels, colors are for the most part well saturated, though sometimes shift within a scene. Detail is good, there is a fair amount of grain (again due to the film), and blemishes are minor and relatively sporadic.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in English mono and stereo, and both tracks sound pretty good, with only a marginally wider image on the stereo version. Dialogue is clean and easy to discern. No major technical issues were detected. A mono Spanish track is also available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bushwhacked, Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog, Lucas.
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra features are trailers for Bushwhacked, Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog and Lucas.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Thunderhead: Son of Flicka proves a worthy successor to My Friend Flicka, as an entertaining family picture. There is plenty of action, lots of horse footage, a good, but not overly sentimental story, and fine performances from the cast. Recommended.


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