Smoky (1946 film)

Smoky is a 1946 American Technicolor Western film directed by Louis King and starring Fred MacMurray. It is the second of three film adaptations of the 1926 children's novel Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James; others were made in 1933 and 1966.

Directed byLouis King
Produced byRobert Bassler
Screenplay byLillie Hayward
Dwight Cummins
Dorothy Yost
Based onnovel by Will James
StarringFred MacMurray
Music byDavid Raksin
CinematographyCharles G. Clarke
(as Charles Clarke)
Edited byNick DeMaggio
(as Nick De Maggio)
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century-Fox
Release date
  • June 26, 1946 (1946-06-26)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.3 million[1][2]
Box office$4 million (US/ Canada)[3][2][4]


A cowboy riding alone in Utah witnesses a stampede of wild stallions, one of whom particularly catches his eye. He returns the horse to its rightful owner, Julie Richards, owner of the Rocking R Ranch, introducing himself as Clint Barkley and asking for a job.

The wild horse, Smoky, slowly develops a relationship with Clint, but ranch foreman Jeff doesn't trust the new hired hand, who is vague and mysterious about his past. A stranger arrives named Frank and persuades a reluctant Clint to vouch for him to be hired as a wrangler.

It turns out Clint took the blame for a crime Frank committed and served eight months behind bars. Frank begins causing trouble at the ranch, mistreating Smoky and the other horses. A gambler turns up, seeking Clint's payment for a $200 debt, discovering that Frank actually lost the money and forged Clint's name on the IOU.

Frank rustles the horses and rides off. Jeff remains suspicious until Clint finally reveals that Frank is his brother. Smoky, abused again, fights off Frank and ends up killing him. Other cowboys discover the horse and sell him to a rodeo in Cheyenne. The horse's condition deteriorates and he ends up pulling a junk cart. One day Clint rides into town and Smoky recognizes him. They are reunited, and return to Julie and the ranch.



Parts of the film were shot in Utah: Zion National Park, Kanab Race Track, Cave Lakes, Aspen Mirror Lake, the Gap, Rockville Road, Kanab Canyon, Ogden, and Cedar Breaks. Fredonia, Arizona, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Burbank and Saugus, California were also filming locations.[5]


  1. "Amber cost seen near $5,000,000" Variety 30 October 1946 p 7
  2. Charles Tranberg, Fred MacMurray: A Biography, Bear Manor Media, 2014
  3. "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69. Please note figure is rentals accruing to distributors.
  4. "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p8
  5. D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: A history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
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