When the column was new, I went through the Disney stuff available on Amazon streaming. Not Prime, mind—just stuff I could rent cheap. Most of it, I’d seen. Most of the rest of it, I’d heard of. This was on the list—it may still sit on my Amazon “to rent” list, which I’m not sure I ever cleared the “available on Disney+” off—of “wait, that’s a thing?” It turns out that, like Sammy, the Way-Out Seal, it was made-for-television. Much of the stuff I haven’t heard of was, though I also have a list of made-for-television stuff I’m waiting to have made available on Disney+.
In case you’re curious, Hacksaw is a horse. In the Canadian Rockies, in fact. He has, we are told, the beauty of a thoroughbred and the spirit of a mustang. We know at the beginning that he’s going to end up in chuck wagon racing, but we then see him running wild, spotted from a plane by Tim Andrews (Tab Hunter). Tim is a guide who is taking Olney Curtis (George Barrows) and his daughter, Sue (Susan Bracken) for a fishing trip in the wilderness, at a camp he runs with his partner Cascade Joe (Victor Millan). Tim and Sue end up spending the time trying to catch Hacksaw; she even stays longer, after her father goes home, to do it.
Dusty Trent (Rusty Cubbin) claims to own the horse and can’t ride him. Only it turns out Hacksaw doesn’t like being ridden, and they never do get him to. So if he’d said, “You can’t ride that horse, no one can, because he won’t put up with it,” instead of “oh, yes, I’ve ridden him many times,” would they have let him keep Hacksaw? Because I’m not sure they would have or indeed should have. Everyone seems to agree that the horse used to belong to someone, that he had been accustomed to humans and working and so forth, but he’s a harness horse and not a saddle horse.
For the further curious, yes chuck wagon racing is a thing, as is the Calvary Stampede that’s such a major plot point. I kind of suspect Dusty of making a fair amount of money from betting on it, though of course the movie doesn’t say, not being that sort of Disney movie. Though he does rather try to cheat, so it is. Still, it’s hard to see organized crime’s caring much about chuck wagon racing, so you know, there we are. I don’t know enough about chuck wagon racing to know if the description of what you need in a horse for it is at all accurate. Then again, I don’t care.
The cast here is just bizarre. I mean, we start with Tab Hunter, because Tab Hunter. This is well after his teen heartthrob days, but here we are. I’d never heard of George Barrows, but that’s hardly surprising; the role of his that made me excited is Ro-Man of Robot Monster infamy. (“Fame” seems very much the wrong word.) The Rancher, in theory played by Ray Teal—himself with a long and distinguished career—is voiced by Noah Beery, Jr., who would spend quite a lot of the decade as Joseph “Rocky” Rockford. And Cascade Joe (they say what nation he’s from, but I don’t remember) is played by Victor Millan, born Joseph Brown in East LA of a Mexican immigrant mother, had an impressive career himself yet didn’t ever appear on Zorro, which Ray Teal did. And Ray Teal wasn’t even in that awkward second season full of brownface.
I mean, as “catching a wild horse in the Canadian Rockies” movies go, it’s not bad. And if that seems like damning with faint praise to you, well it should. Still the weirdest thing about the movie has to be that IMDb described it, not entirely accurately, as “A girl captures a black stallion to compete in a contest.” I suppose it’s close enough, though Hacksaw isn’t really what I’d consider black, she doesn’t really catch him to compete in a contest, Tim and Sue work together, and Bracken was 23 at the time. These are quibbles. The reason I mention this is more that there’s a Disney wiki site I use that refers to it exactly the same way . . . except with “white” instead of “black.” And that certainly is more than a quibble.