Old Hollywood Horse-a-thon: Seven Favorite Classic Scenes with Horses

Seems like there’s a bunch of great blog-a-thon lately, and thanks to Jeff Flugel from The Stalking Moon for tipping me about this one. Page from My Love of Old Hollywood is hosting this fine Horse-a-thon, click on the image below to see all the participants.

When I first signed up to do this post, I was only going to do a Top Five, but turns out there are quite a few great classic scenes involving horses so I decided to expand it to seven. I’m going to stick with Old Hollywood [with one exception] for this purpose, though I might do a contemporary list somewhere down the line. Ok, here we go:

The Big Country – Learning to ride the Old Thunder

I absolutely love this Western and no doubt James McKay is the quintessential ‘quiet hero’ that Gregory Peck does so well. This scene speaks so much about his humility but also tenacity in trying to tame his fiance’s wild horse The Old Thunder. It’s amusing to see Peck constantly being thrown off the horse but it’s also a perfect way to show just what kind of a man McKay is.

Duel in The Sun – Taming a Stallion

Ok, I’ve just got to include another scene with Peck only because the character is so very different from one another. The unscrupulous, bad-to-the-bone Lewt is as far a way from James McKay as one can get, a total opposite in every sense of the word. This scene shows how Lewt impresses the subject of his lust, Pearl, when he skillfully tames a stallion. Peck seems to revel in playing a bad boy, a role he rarely play in his illustrious career. I don’t know if they used a stunt double in this scene or not but if they did, the editing was really good as it looked as if Peck himself tamed the stallion, which is quite a feat!

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the ChristThe Sheik’s “Children”

Ok, when it comes to Ben-Hur, people naturally think of the spectacular 11-minute chariot race. And naturally, for it is the most magnificent horse-related scenes ever conceived on film. But I’d like to highlight this more lighthearted but still awesome scene of the wealthy Sheik showing off his *children*, those magnificent Arabian horses! I LOVE Hugh Griffith’s performance, he won Best Supporting Actor in this film, and deservedly so.

Gone With the Wind – “Just like Pa…”

This heartbreaking scene isn’t so much about the pony, but the impact of riding one has on the already frail marriage of Rhett and Scarlett. Scarlett’s already lost her father in a horse riding accident, so it’s harrowing to hear her say ‘Just like Pa’ as Bonnie stubbornly runs off in her pony, displaying her headstrong trait at such a young age, just like her mother. I still get chills every time I watch this scene.

My Fair Lady – ‘Move Yer Bloomin’ Arse!’

Oh who could forget this delightfully funny scene! Eliza Doolittle at Ascot being her old unhinged-self, ahah. I saw this as a young girl and my mom had to point out the class system thing. To this day I always find this scene — and Eliza herself — so darn amusing!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Chase

There’s really not a lot of buddy duos more awesome than Paul Newman + Robert Redford combo. Both are ridiculously good looking, talented and have great on-screen chemistry to boot! This movie happens to be the horse-a-thon’s host Page’s choice so obviously she’d concur that this is an epic chase scene from one of the best classic westerns ever made.


The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers – Gandalf’s charge at sunrise

Now I choose to include this one as I do think The Lord of the Rings trilogy is already a modern classic. There are sooo many great scenes involving horses in this franchise that we could easily do a top ten horse scenes just from the three films alone. But this one I think stands as one of the most grandiose and memorable, both in scale and in its plot significance. Peter Jackson set up this majestic scene marvelously, starting with our beloved hero Gandalf appearing on his white horse as the sun rises, glowing like an angel with hair blowing in the wind, ready to saves the day! He and King Theoden’s nephew Eomer and his army arrived in battle at just the right moment. The scene of the massive army on horseback descending down as Saruman’s evil creatures are blinded by the rising sun is just brilliant war strategy which makes for an epic scene that never fails to amaze me.

Well, what do you think of these scenes? Do share your own favorite classic movie scenes with horses.

Weekend Viewing Roundup.. Musings on Duel in the Sun

Happy Monday, folks, hope the weekend’s been treatin’ you right.

It’s a nice mellow one for me, mellow enough to give me some time to see the animated birdie movie Rio which was quite fun, Immortals (review coming later this week) and to go huntin’ for some Gregory Peck DVDs 😀 Thanks to a good sale at Barnes & Noble, I managed to score four DVDs at 40% off, not bad at all! On top of Roman Holiday, now I’ve got Duel in the Sun, Gentlemen’s Agreement, The Keys to the Kingdom and Spellbound. I’ve only managed to watch Duel in the Sun and part of the special features for Gentlemen’s Agreement. Well let’s just say, I truly got it bad for Mr. Peck. I’ve since ordered this 6-disc collection to continue my GP marathon 😀

Duel in the Sun

I plan on doing a Gregory Peck review series when I’m done with at least ten of his films in the future, but for now I can’t seem to get Duel in the Sun out of my mind. This classic western was produced by David O. Selznick who wished it’d repeat the massive success of the Civil War epic Gone with the Wind. But it pales in comparison surely in terms of script and overall production, and I totally see what the critics were saying about it being overwrought and over-acted (especially by its star Jennifer Jones, Selznick’s own wife).

The Cain and Abel allegory of the two brothers vying for the exotic woman Pearl Chavez is pretty sexually-charged for its day, aptly dubbed as Lust in the Dust by reviewers back in the day. In fact, my research about this movie told me that this film was heavily-edited in order to please the Hays Code censors and religious review boards. Rape scenes became love scenes and the sexuality of the movie was played down (per this in-depth review). Now I’m not advocating rape scenes in any way shape or form as I can’t bear watching something like that in a film, but it seems that altering the scene basically changed the story in a major way. I mean, they made Pearl a willing participant instead of a victim.

Though Jones was no Vivien Leigh, she definitely had that fire in her eyes as a ‘half-breed’ wild cat (I hate the way they call her that, it’s so darn degrading!). Gregory Peck was pretty darn convincing as the villain. His carnal, unscrupulous Lewt McCanles made even Rhett Butler look like nothing more than a mischievous altar boy! Who knew Peck could play a bad-to-the-bone scoundrel but man, did he pull it off beautifully, if only he’d done more bad-boy roles in his career. He complemented his devilish smile with that twinkle in his eye every time he’s got his less-than-honorable designs on his girl. If I had seen this film, I’d have put him on top of this Scene-stealing Bad Boys list!

The film also boasts one of the most over-the-top yet memorable death scenes, in the guiltiest pleasure kind of way. No wonder it’s included in AMC’s Filmsite’s Best Film Death Scenes. Even with the ridiculous amount of massacre and body slashin’ in Immortals, none is quite as memorable as this one. If you’ve seen this film you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Lewt: You always said you could shoot. I never believed ya.
Pearl: Lewt, I love you. I love you.
Lewt: Oh, don’t cry, honey. Don’t cry.
Pearl: I had to do it, Lewt. I had to do it.
Lewt: Of course you did. Let me, let me hold ya.
Pearl: Just hold me. Hold me once more.
Lewt: Little bob-cat. (He died mid-kiss. She died shortly thereafter.)

I normally won’t reveal such a huge spoiler when I talk about a movie, but in this case, the knowledge of the characters’ fate didn’t really derail the film for me. If anything, it made me want to watch it even more just to see just how nuts these two lovers are. It’s definitely a twisted Romeo & Juliet story that’s sure to please hopeless romantics in all of us.

So what did you see this weekend? Do share your thoughts of Duel in the Sun and your own pick of memorable death scenes.