A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Shoeing and saddling a horse are shown briefly. How to bridle a horse is shown. Breaking a horse to the bridle and saddle are briefly shown, but specific details and the amount of time it really takes is glossed over. Although it's not a prominent theme in this version, the things we use horses for and how we treat them are touched on. Life lessons and character-building that come from caring for horses are touched on: that it'll teach you patience, self discipline, and responsibility.
You have to treat your animals with kindness and take good care of them. If you put your mind to something and really stick to it, you can do it. Don't try and become someone else because it'll only make you unhappy; be yourself.
Positive Role Models
Heroine Anne, who seems to be about 16 and is described as "on the verge of womanhood," models treating animals with kindness and patience. She's a bit of a tomboy and occasionally gets into trouble for things like sneaking out to the barn after bedtime. She models tremendous tenacity and determination in refusing to give up the search for Black Beauty. Her father is overly stern, but loving and emotionally available for Anne. She also has a loving relationship with the housekeeper Blake in the absence of her mother, who died before the story begins.
Violence & Scariness
Black Beauty is shown being whipped and abused on two occasions, one of which shows four or five severe blows with a whip. There's a scary barn fire with horses in peril. In the end they're all rescued, but not without further peril to Anne and Black Beauty. A shotgun is heard off camera implying that Black Beauty was put down because of a bad leg, but right after it's shown not to be the case. A brief fistfight is shown from a medium distance with one or two punches thrown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mr. and Mrs. Dixon lean in and start to kiss as the barn door closes.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults have wine on a special occasion, but aren't shown actually drinking it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this version of Black Beauty veers far from the classic book by the same name. The plot revolves entirely around Anne. Black Beauty is seen only as her pet, in the context of how owning and caring for him shapes her character and provides a framework for her romance with Mr. Dixon. That being said, the importance of being kind to animals remains a theme, though not a prominent one. There's some violence when Black Beauty is shown being whipped, and there's a scary barn fire that's safely resolved. The version available for streaming is colorized. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As a cute, horsey romance, this version of BLACK BEAUTY is mildly entertaining. Mona Freeman is lively and engaging as a tomboy who learns to give people, and herself, the same patience and understanding she gives her favorite horse. Richard Denning is a handsome, dashing, winning love interest. Although the content is appropriate for younger viewers, it's probably better suited to older kids and tweens, especially horse lovers, who'll appreciate watching Anne discover her romantic feelings for Mr. Dixon and learn how to handle them as well as she handles Black Beauty. Note that the version available for streaming has been colorized, and not particularly well, though it will probably make it more engaging and relatable for kids who aren't used to black and white.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.