review for The Littlest Horse Thieves on AllMovie

The Littlest Horse Thieves (1976)
by Craig Butler review

One of Disney's better live action films of the period, The Littlest Horse Thieves is also -- and perhaps not coincidentally --a somewhat "darker" film than one usually associates with the "Mouse House." For the characters involved, the stakes are high, and their actions will mean the difference between whether the horses involved will live or die -- and if the former, how they will live. This is treated with the seriousness that it deserves, while still allowing plenty of time for amusing and lighter moments. It does, however, thankfully mean that there are fewer of the "cutesy" moments that often mar other of the studio's efforts from the 1960s and 1970s. Thieves also does a pretty good job of presenting the differing sides in a complicated issue, even if the resolution is a bit "Hollywoodized." As a history lesson, of course, Thieves is pretty far off the mark; the events described are not taken from history, but the idea of horses NOT being replaced by machinery, while it warms the heart, is a bit unrealistic. Still, this is a small complaint in an otherwise fine film, and one which has the good sense to feature the irreplaceable Alastair Sim in one of his final roles. It's also fortunate in finding a trio if young actors who are up to the task given them and who for the most part avoid the kind opf acting designed to make parents say "Isn't that adorable!" Credit is also due Charles Jarrott for his sensitive direction, as well as to Ron Goodwin, whose brass-heavy score is surprisingly adaptable to many different moods.