My Brother Talks to Horses (1947)

Article #1021 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-31-2003
Posting Date: 5-29-2004
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Featuring Jackie ‘Butch’ Jenkins, Peter Lawford, Beverly Tyler

A bank teller deals with his eccentric family, in particular with his younger brother who is able to understand the language of horses.

It’s hard to make plot summaries of movies that are essentially dramas, as this one is; this is true even if the drama revolves around a fantastic premise. In fact, the movie’s fantastic premise seems just one element in the story, which is equal parts “You Can’t Take It With You” (the eccentric family with Spring Byington), the boy-and-his-dog story (substitute horse, though dogs play into it as well), and a subplot in which the boy’s ability (which allows him to figure out who will win at the horse races) garners the attention of some men interested in making a killing at the race track. Unfortunately, these three story elements never really mesh into a satisfying whole. It’s the boy’s relationship with the horses that make for the most effective moments, particularly during a traumatic horse race which is the best sequence of the movie. The basic message of the story is pretty simplistic (whatever happens is for the best no matter how bad it may seem at the time), and the kid (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mortimer Snerd with his buck teeth and freckles) looks almost like a parody of what a cute little boy is supposed to look like; nonetheless, he was a very good actor and what success this movie has is in good part attributable to his performance, as well as to that of the animals and the character actors that populate the cast.

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