The Red Pony is a 1973 TV-movie adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, previously filmed for theatrical release in 1949. Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara star as a turn-of-century farming couple. Clint Howard plays their 10-year-old son, a rebellious lad constantly at odds with his taciturn father. The catalyst for the ultimate reconciliation of father and son is the magnificent (but foredoomed) red pony whom the boy raises. Farm hand Billy Buck, the colorful character portrayed by Robert Mitchum in the 1949 version of The Red Pony, is missing from this otherwise faithful adaptation, which premiered on March 18, 1973 as a Bell System Family Theatre special. The film would later be honored with a Peabody Award for "Outstanding Dramatic Special."
by Hal Erickson synopsis