“I’d of risked my neck to claim that horse for my own.”
When a cowboy (Steve Cochran) falls in love with a wild stallion he names Wildfire, he hopes to buy the horse but instead is forced to kidnap Wildfire from a cruel rodeo owner (Ray Teal) and hide out on a ranch owned by the avuncular grandfather (R.H. Macy) of a horse-loving girl (Sherry Jackson).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
This kid-friendly western delivers exactly what its title promises: a dramatic showdown between an (escaped) lion and a horse. While these final scenes may be a bit brutal for younger kids, the storyline until then seems perfectly geared towards children who dream of horses. Cochran is given a wonderfully generous role to play, as a man who would do anything to prevent a magnificent creature like Wildfire from abuse and subjugation.
It’s also refreshing to see a girl in the central kid-role (Jackson is likeable and appropriately feisty):
… and there’s a fun musical interlude involving a cowhand learning to play the ukulele by record player:
However, this isn’t must-see viewing for anyone other than Cochran fans, or those who may somehow fondly remember it from their own childhood.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Steve Cochran as Ben Kirby
- Fine cinematography
No. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, which makes sense. I’m not sure how many people these days know about this title!