Black Beauty (1971 film)

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Black Beauty
Black beauty 1971.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Hill
Produced by Peter L. Andrews
Artur Brauner
Malcolm B. Heyworth
Executive producer:
Peter Hahne
Tony Tenser
Harry Alan Towers (uncredited)
Written by Anna Sewell (novel)
Wolf Mankowitz (screenplay)
James Hill (additional dialogue)
Starring Walter Slezak
Mark Lester
Patrick Mower
John Nettleton
Music by Lionel Bart
John Cameron
Cinematography Chris Menges
Edited by Ann Chegwidden
Pablo González del Amo
Distributed by Tigon British Film Productions
(UK Release)
Paramount Pictures
(USA Release)
Release dates
April 1971 (1971-04)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Black Beauty is a 1971 British drama film, based on the Anna Sewell novel of the same name. This movie is the fourth feature film adaptation of Anna Sewell's story. The movie was directed by James Hill. Lionel Bart provided the rousing score.

The film's cast includes Walter Slezak, Mark Lester, Uschi Glas, Patrick Mower and John Nettleton.


Black Beauty is a stallion who, as a foal in England c 1856, is befriended by a boy named Joe (the film was actually made in Ireland). After being stolen by a brutal squire who also takes over Joe's family farm, is later killed, he is acquired by gypsies, who then sell him to a Spanish circus.

In the circus, he learns many tricks before being given to Sir William, an arrogant British military man, then passed to Sir William's daughter and her fiance, Gervais, who Sir William accuses of being a coward and unworthy of his daughter's hand.

Black Beauty then travels to India (scenes were shot in Spain) with Gervais to fight for Britain. Gervais wants to prove his worth to his future father in law. Gervais is killed in a rather confusing and unexplained battle (possibly based on the Russian presence in India and Afghanistan c1860), and the horse becomes known a war horse through his bravery and willingness to charge.

Because of his bravery he is shipped back to England, but is then sold by a penniless army officer. The horse is used for hauling coal by another heartless owner, but acquires pneumonia. At his most sick, he is rescued by a friendly old woman who runs a farm for retired horses and her employee, some time after 1870. The employee turns out to be the boy named Joe who Black Beauty knew when he was a foal, while the woman was Anna Sewell (author of the original Black Beauty book).


It was shot on location in Ireland and Spain.[1]



Roger Ebert was overall complimentary of the film, and believed the re-telling of the book remained true to the original aims of the author, although changing the actual biography of the horse. According to Ebert, James Hill's version of Black Beauty is "more than just an animal movie". Ebert was also generally complimentary of the human actors in the movie, although he panned the performance of Mark Lester as Joe. He gave the film three out of four stars.[1] A review in the New York Times also commented on the major plot changes, but called the movie "uncommonly interesting, handsome and sometimes quite marvelously inventive". The review praised the atmosphere of the movie and the performances of several actors in secondary roles, but called the performances of Mark Lester and Walter Slezak "utterly pedestrian".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (December 14, 1971). "Black Beauty". Ebert Digital. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  2. ^ Greenspun, Roger (November 25, 1971). "Black Beauty (1971)". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 

External links[edit]