The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit is a 1968 light comedy family film directed by Norman Tokar, with a screenplay by Louis Pelletier, based on the 1955 book, The Year of the Horse by Eric Hatch. The film stars Dean Jones, Diane Baker, Ellen Janov, Kurt Russell and Lurene Tuttle in the principal roles. The film's title is a riff on the titular horse's dapple gray color and the title of the 1955 Sloan Wilson novel about the American search for purpose in a world dominated by business, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.
|The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Norman Tokar|
|Produced by||Winston Hibler|
|Written by||Eric Hatch (book)|
|Music by||George Bruns|
|Cinematography||William E. Snyder|
|Edited by||Robert Stafford|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$3.3 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
The film received mostly negative reviews, due to the predictable script. It failed at the box office, too.
This was Fred Clark's final movie appearance and the film was released after his death. The film was dedicated to his memory.
Madison Avenue advertising executive Fred Bolton, a Lakeville, Connecticut widower living beyond his means, is beset by two major problems. First, his boss at Tomes Advertising Agency has instructed him to come up with an original campaign—in 24 hours—to promote star client Allied Drug & Food's over-the-counter indigestion medication "Aspercel". Allied's Chairman of the Board, Tom Dugan, wants a "jet set" appeal campaign that will "give sour stomachs class and dignity."
The second problem is Helen, Fred's teenage daughter. She loves horses, takes riding classes and has already had decent success in some competitions. Her biggest wish is to have her own horse, which her riding instructor Suzie Clemens feels will give the girl much-needed confidence, both as a young girl and as an equestrian. However, it is a dream that Fred, Helen, and even Helen's Aunt Martha, know they cannot actually afford, in addition to the fact that Fred is allergic to horses.
After a frustrated night brainstorming, Fred gets the idea to solve both problems at once: acquire a good horse, name him "Aspercel" and—with Helen riding him—bring the name of the client's product into the press, all the while fulfilling his daughter's dream. In order to accomplish this, of course, Helen and "Aspy" have to win a few prizes and make the horse a celebrated figure. Fred enlists the aid of Helen's riding instructor, Suzie, and is assisted by teenager Ronny Gardner—who quickly develops eyes for Helen.
Helen does begin to win ribbons, but the resulting publicity is below Dugan's expectations. When Helen learns that her father's job is at stake, she falters under pressure and fails to win an important show. Suzie, however, realizes Aspercel's potential when the animal carries Fred over a seven-foot wall – and tops that by outrunning a police car. Suzie volunteers to ride Aspercel in the International Horse Show in Washington, D.C. and suggests that her ex-fiancé, the wealthy Archer Madison—who once rode on the U.S. Equestrian Team—be brought in as trainer. Suppressing his jealousy of Archer, Fred reluctantly agrees. As the result, Suzie and Aspercel win the championship and all ends happily as Fred is rewarded with a promotion, a happy daughter, and Suzie's love.
- Dean Jones as Frederick "Fred" Bolton
- Diane Baker as Suzie "S.J." Clemens
- Lloyd Bochner as Archer Madison
- Fred Clark as Tom Dugan
- Ellen Janov as Helen Bolton
- Morey Amsterdam as Charlie Blake
- Kurt Russell as Ronnie Gardner
- Lurene Tuttle as Aunt Martha
- Alan Hewitt as Harry Tomes
- Frederico Piñero as Lorendo
- Florence MacMichael as Catherine
- Joan Marshall as Mimsey
- Robin Eccles as Judy Gardner
- Adam Williams as Sergeant Roberts
- Norman Grabowski as Truck Driver
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15