Review: ‘Phar Lap’

Phar Lap was a champion Australian racehorse, a legend in his own lifetime, who met a mysterious death in California in 1932.

Phar Lap was a champion Australian racehorse, a legend in his own lifetime, who met a mysterious death in California in 1932.

Film’s one flaw is its opening: it begins with Phar Lap’s illness and death, and while every schoolboy in Australia knows this is how the story ended, a little suspense might have been retained for overseas viewers. However, once the flashbacks begin and Phar Lap’s story is told, the film takes off.

Tom Burlinson is very effective as the shy stable-boy who becomes devoted to the courageous horse. Martin Vaughan is impressive as the grimly determined trainer who leases the horse in the first place, as is Celia de Burgh, luminous as his loyal but neglected wife. Ron Leibman practically walks away with the picture as Davis, the smooth American horseowner, and Judy Morris is quietly effective as his naive, talkative wife.

Phar Lap

Australia

Production

Edgley. Director Simon Wincer; Producer John Sexton; Screenplay David Williamson; Camera Russell Boyd; Editor Tony Paterson; Music Bruce Rowland; Art Director Laurence Eastwood

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Tom Burlinson Martin Vaughan Judy Morris Ron Leibman Celia de Burgh Vincent Ball
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