Where the Red Fern Grows

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Where the Red Fern Grows Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Moving version of the classic novel.
  • G
  • 1974
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 9-year-old Written byslbsis August 13, 2014

Book is better

We just finished the book as a summer read-aloud (and yes, all three of us cried at the end) and I had found the movie at a yard sale so we watched it tonight.... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarbut8182 December 7, 2019

Family movie

I honestly believe this is a great movie for a family movie night. My 8 year old and I watched this movie hoping it would be ok. I had to explain a few parts to... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 4, 2021

good for all

it is an amazing movie it gets sad so prepare for that part. I think it could be a little bit better but 5 stars for how good the movie really is. if you get sa... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjackson010 October 23, 2019


it stinks they left out everything DON'T WATCH

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?

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.

Based on the Wilson Rawls novel, set in the Ozarks of the 1930s, the film 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.

Talk to your kids 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

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Themes & Topics

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