review for The Man from Snowy River on AllMovie

The Man from Snowy River (1982)
by Derek Armstrong review

The Man From Snowy River may be a landmark achievement in Australian cinema -- accomplished by the standards of a fledgling film industry -- but when compared to a long history of similar American Westerns, it fares only so-so. Its more enduring place may be in the hearts of horse lovers, specifically young girls, many of whom campaigned ever more urgently for a pony as a result of watching the movie. In this way, its influence is better equated to the The Black Stallion than The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There's a harlequin quality to the forbidden romance on the frontier storyline, which also includes scandalous family secrets and other bits of soap opera fodder. Still, it's executed with enough skill and enough mildness to rest comfortably within the realm of the sentimental family classic. Especially impressive are the horse-riding feats, even the loving way the horses are filmed, which help categorize it among horse films without that being its explicit focus. In his debut film, cinematographer Keith Wagstaff encapsulates the beauty of the Australian countryside with a real sense for its expansiveness. Kirk Douglas is an effective choice to raise the film's stateside interest level, even if the lesser half of his dual role, the salty old prospector, has the hokey feel of a theme park character.