review for My Brother Talks to Horses on AllMovie

My Brother Talks to Horses (1946)
by Craig Butler review

A bit muddled, My Brother Talks to Horses is nonetheless a moderately entertaining little film and will be especially well received by children, who will delight in the film's titular premise. Brother would be a stronger film if it had constrained its story to that promised by the title, a fantasy tale about a child who has the gift of gabbing with nags. Unfortunately, the powers that be at some point decided that more was needed, and so the film is saddled with an unconvincing and unrewarding love story (for the older brother) and the addition of a household that simply shrieks "zany, uninhibited fun" without actually embodying that quality. The elements that have been grafted on to the basic story don't work and feel like so much padding; director Fred Zinnemann is considerably more successful in impressing when he does focus on the basic story and most especially when he concentrates on his young star, the enormously appealing Jackie "Butch" Jenkins. Zinnemann works exceptionally well with the child, drawing a winning performance that skirts all around "cute" without falling too far into "cutesy." Spring Byington does well as the madcap mother, and Charlies Ruggles is welcome as always, but Peter Lawford is dull from start to finish.