More stills and photos from The Red Pony

The Red Pony (Twentieth-Century Classics)


(A Book Review of John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony)

Steinbeck's work on The Red Pony script lasted for many years before filming even began. The first Steinbeck screenplay to actually reach theaters was the 1941 feature-length docudrama . When Steinbeck wrote that picture, however, he had already started working with Milestone on The Red Pony. Milestone had been intrigued by a 1937 book of three Steinbeck short stories and had gotten the author to start turning elements of those stories - plus a fourth - into a single screenplay. The two men discussed the project on and off over the course of the next several years as each worked on other films. Steinbeck even received two Oscar® nominations for Best Original Story in that time period, for (1944) and (1945). The four short stories, meanwhile, were re-published as a single book called in 1945, and in 1947 Republic Pictures came aboard and filming finally began. Though shooting ended in August 1947, the finished picture was not released until March 1949.

For The Red Pony, Steinbeck actually adapted his own work to the screen. Perhaps he was especially interested in doing so because the screenplay was based not on a single novel but on several of his short stories; blending them into one complete tale must have been an intriguing challenge and an appealing chance to create something wholly original. As one might expect from Steinbeck (not to mention Copland), the movie is a slice of Americana, an atmospheric and elegiac account of a young boy (Peter Miles) living on a California ranch with his parents (Myrna Loy and Shepperd Strudwick). As the parents develop marital difficulties, the boy becomes increasingly attached to a kindly ranch hand (Robert Mitchum) and to a pony he has received as a gift, ultimately learning tough lessons about life and loss.

(A Book Review of John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony)

The Red Pony is a collection of

Published by Covici Friede, consisted of four related short stories, each of which had appeared earlier in periodicals: "The Gift," "The Great Mountains," "The Promise" and "The Leader of the People." The book was originally published at $10, which was a lot of money in those Depression era days. Even so, it sold out. It contains elements of Steinbeck's boyhood, including the red pony he was given as a child. The book calls for the reader to see the story through the boy's eyes. Steinbeck would use this sort of participatory reading technique again, both in and

In her memoir, written with James Kotsilibas-Davis, Loy answered that question. "The ranch mother in The Red Pony," she wrote, "was as close as I've come to playing a woman like my pioneer grandmothers. Although it was an independent production released by Republic, a so-called 'poverty-row' studio, the creative lineup was irresistible... Also, it was my first picture in perfected Technicolor.