Black Beauty (1971 film)  

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Black Beauty is a 1971 British drama film, based on the Anna Sewell novel of the same name. This movie is the fourth feature film adaptation of Anna Sewell's story. The movie was directed by James Hill. Lionel Bart provided the rousing score.

The film's cast includes Walter Slezak, Mark Lester, Uschi Glas, Patrick Mower and John Nettleton.



Black Beauty is a stallion who, as a foal in England c 1856, is born in front of a boy named Joe to whom it is given by his father. He is taken by a brutal squire, who takes over Joe's family farm when the bank forecloses on the loan. After the squire is killed, he is acquired by gypsies. After a horse race and fist fight to determine leadership, Black Beauty runs away but is captured by a horse trader who then sells him to a Spanish circus.

In the circus, he learns many tricks before being given to Sir William, an arrogant British military man; and then is passed to Sir William's daughter Anne. Anne's fiancé is Lt Gervaise, a half French half English hussar officer whom Sir William accuses of being a coward and unworthy of his daughter's hand. When Gervaise volunteers for overseas active military service to prove his bravery his fiancé gives him Black Beauty as his steed.

Black Beauty then travels to the Northwest Frontier (scenes were shot in Spain) Gervaise is killed in battle (possibly based on the Russian presence in India and Afghanistan c1860), and the horse becomes known as a war horse through his bravery and willingness to charge.

Because of his bravery he is shipped back to England, but is then sold by Gervaise's comrade in arms, now a penniless and alcoholic army officer. The horse is used for hauling coal by another heartless owner, but acquires pneumonia. At his most sick, he is rescued by a friendly old woman who runs a farm for retired horses and her employee, some time after 1870. The employee turns out to be the boy named Joe whom Black Beauty knew when he was a foal, while the woman was Anna Sewell (author of the original Black Beauty book).


It was shot on location in Ireland and Spain.



Roger Ebert was overall complimentary of the film, and believed the re-telling of the book remained true to the original aims of the author, although changing the actual biography of the horse. According to Ebert, James Hill's version of Black Beauty is "more than just an animal movie". Ebert was also generally complimentary of the human actors in the movie, although he panned the performance of Mark Lester as Joe. He gave the film three out of four stars. A review in the New York Times also commented on the major plot changes, but called the movie "uncommonly interesting, handsome and sometimes quite marvelously inventive". The review praised the atmosphere of the movie and the performances of several actors in secondary roles, but called the performances of Mark Lester and Walter Slezak "utterly pedestrian".

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Black Beauty (1971 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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