Misty James B. Clark

If one were to look closely enough at Misty, the early '60s children's film about two go-getter kids and a wild pony, they might see a sly criticism of Western material desires and the human need to want only what we cannot possess. However, the structure of the film is far too literal-minded and gosh darn peppy for subversive rumblings of that sort to be intentional. In truth, the very matter-of-fact, expositional approach that the film takes would be nearly impossible to misinterpret, as every creaking machination is stated, often inarticulately, in a manner that just about anyone could understand. It starts with Maureen (Pam Smith) and Paul (David Ladd), two orphaned siblings living with their grandparents (Arthur O'Connell and Anne Seymour), as they discover a wild pony named Phantom, who they inevitably want as their own. Discovering that the local firemen capture and sell said ponies, the children then take to saving up money to buy Phantom, which is slightly complicated when they learn of Phantom's foal, Misty. Everything works out well until the children discover that Phantom doesn't so much enjoy being caged up when she's used to being free. Strangely, Misty plays a very small part of the film, which leads one to wonder why it was named after her. We learn that Paul named her Misty because when he first saw her "she looked all, y'know, Misty," but the film details little of her horse-y shenanigans, favouring the "gentlin'" (not the "breakin'") of Phantom for the purpose of community racing. Obtuse vernacular decisions, along with some discussion of whipping children and the grandfather's tendency to stop and smell the flowers, quite literally, make Misty an occasionally amusing, if slightly disturbing, film to watch. Older viewers feeling reminiscent may be interested in taking a gander but younger viewers will most certainly find the material dull. The DVD comes with no additional features. (Koch)