Stories about "a boy and his pet" have always been marvelous fodder for Hollywood's cannons. From THE YEARLING to THE RED STALLION to BLACK BEAUTY to THE BLACK STALLION to LASSIE, the sight of a young child and his love for his animal has usually rung the cash register. So it was with
THE RED PONY, which did well enough at the box office to be re-released in 1957 and inspire a TV movie in 1972 that starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. The story was written by Steinbeck (who also wrote the script), and it was a compressing of three tales, "The Gift," "The Leader of the
People," and "The Promise." Mitchum's character appeared only in the final story but is used as...