Where the Red Fern Grows

  • Review Date: October 16, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1974

Common Sense Media says

Moving version of the classic novel.
  • Review Date: October 16, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1974

Age(i)

2
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4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film extols the value of hard work and loyalty to build character.

Violence & scariness

A boy takes a fatal fall onto an axe. A dog dies in a mountain lion attack.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie casts an unflinching gaze on the hard lives of its characters. Kids who watch this movie will see a boy take a fatal fall onto an axe and a dog die in a mountain lion attack. The film extols the value of hard work and loyalty to build character, and offers a realistic, unflinching look at backwoods life in the 1930s.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, young Billy Coleman works odd jobs so he can buy a pair of coonhounds. The dogs, Dan and Ann, don't disappoint. With training, they develop quite a reputation, and soon the raccoon pelts are piling high. They even tree the notorious "ghost coon," which wins Billy a two dollar bet with some hillbilly boys, one of whom falls on Billy's twin-bladed axe in a scuffle and dies. "Momma," Billy says, devastated, "you can stop worryin' now 'cause I ain't never gonna go huntin' again." But the Championship Coon Hunt is too great a temptation to pass up. Dan and Ann make the finals, but a fierce storm forces Billy to give up a sure win to find his injured Grandpa. More hard choices follow for Billy, each carrying him one step closer to manhood.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This 1974 film version of the Wilson Rawls novel, set in the Ozarks of the 1930s, is about a place where people are good to one another, during a time when hard work and compassion are rewarded. But there's a deeper layer as well, which slowly unravels to expose a boy struggling toward adulthood, grappling with the large issues of life and death and the heartaches that lie in between.

If the performances seem a bit over-starched at times, they never fail to do their job. Like the acting, the songs (written by the Osmonds and performed with utmost sincerity by Andy Williams) are obviously of another era. Adults may find it amusing to hear Williams crooning about running free as the wind while Billy adoringly trains his pups, but they'll be touched in spite of themselves. It's just that kind of a movie.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about its message. What do you think the filmmakers were trying to get across? How did this film influence you?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 24, 1974
DVD release date:January 1, 2004
Cast:Beverly Garland, Jack Ging, James Whitmore
Director:Norman Tokar
Studio:Westamerica Film
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Where the Red Fern Grows was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5, 8, 10, and 10 year old Written byCSM Screen Name... October 3, 2009
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Yard Sale Score

I'm a middle aged feminist, and my daughter and son looove this movie! My daughter is incredibly shy and loves to play cats, and she just happened to pick this up at a yard sale! It was sooo sad but really good! I only wish there were some Elizabeth Cady Stanton references, as she is a GREAT role model for my daughter!!!

Kid, 11 years old Written byCelticBoy April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

This was sad

This was sad

Parent of a 10 year old Written byWinterD April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

I was bored and exhilirated at the same time

This movie gives a great view on how hard work pays off. It also shows that through Hard work you have some disapointments as well but if you stick to it everything will work out in the end. Great message!!!

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