**/**** Image A+ Sound B
starring Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, Rita Johnson, James Bell
screenplay by Francis Edwards Faragon, based on the book by Mary O'Hara
directed by Harold Schuster
by Walter Chaw Revealing itself as a primary source for Spielberg's E.T. (complete with scene in which a boy and his extra-species pal are found unconscious in a stream), Harold Schuster's prototypical horse opera My Friend Flicka finds its locus in the relationship between a boy and his animal, its comic relief in a bratty little sister (Diana Hale) who can't be trusted, and its antagonist in a stern but loving father (Preston Foster). Released to good success in 1943, the film (based on three novels by Mary O'Hara) fostered two sequels and a popular television show that banked on the syrupy good old-fashioned paterfamilias values that proliferated in TV's late-'50s "Golden Age." Accordingly, the film is burdened by a surplus of problem/solution climaxes and a perversely invasive score by Hollywood legend Alfred Newman that telegraphs every emotional response with a moldy insistence best described as "John Williams-y."