Miracle of the White Stallions (1963)

117 mins | Drama | March 1963

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HISTORY

The 8 Mar 1962 DV announced that Arthur Hiller would direct the Walt Disney Productions picture, referred to as The Miracle of the White Stallions, with filming expected to begin in Jul 1962. The story was based on Alois Podhajsky’s 1960 novel, Ein Leben für die Lipizzaner, about the real life quest of Podhajsky and General George Patton to save Austria’s famed dancing Lippizan horses during World War II.
       On 3 Apr 1962, DV reported that production would take place in Vienna, Austria, in May 1962, and that Robert Taylor had been cast in the lead role. Hiller was headed to Vienna the following day to scout locations. The 11 Apr 1962 Var confirmed a 28 May 1962 start date.
       According to the 15 May 1962 NYT, filming was set to take place at Austria’s Spanish Riding School, home of the Lippizan horses. An 18 May 1962 DV production chart listed a 4 Jun 1962 start date, and the 11 Jun 1962 DV noted that principal photography would continue for three months. Steve Forrest, Ursula Thiess, and James Dobson were named as cast members in DV items published between May and Jul 1962. The 29 May 1962 DV reported that Earl Holliman had also been hired, but the actor had to drop out due to conflicting production schedules.
       The 17 Oct 1962 Var announced that Hiller had returned to the U.S. after five months of production on The Miracle of the White Stallions. He explained his choice to film entirely in Vienna since it was ... More Less

The 8 Mar 1962 DV announced that Arthur Hiller would direct the Walt Disney Productions picture, referred to as The Miracle of the White Stallions, with filming expected to begin in Jul 1962. The story was based on Alois Podhajsky’s 1960 novel, Ein Leben für die Lipizzaner, about the real life quest of Podhajsky and General George Patton to save Austria’s famed dancing Lippizan horses during World War II.
       On 3 Apr 1962, DV reported that production would take place in Vienna, Austria, in May 1962, and that Robert Taylor had been cast in the lead role. Hiller was headed to Vienna the following day to scout locations. The 11 Apr 1962 Var confirmed a 28 May 1962 start date.
       According to the 15 May 1962 NYT, filming was set to take place at Austria’s Spanish Riding School, home of the Lippizan horses. An 18 May 1962 DV production chart listed a 4 Jun 1962 start date, and the 11 Jun 1962 DV noted that principal photography would continue for three months. Steve Forrest, Ursula Thiess, and James Dobson were named as cast members in DV items published between May and Jul 1962. The 29 May 1962 DV reported that Earl Holliman had also been hired, but the actor had to drop out due to conflicting production schedules.
       The 17 Oct 1962 Var announced that Hiller had returned to the U.S. after five months of production on The Miracle of the White Stallions. He explained his choice to film entirely in Vienna since it was the actual setting for the story, and because Austria was the only place to obtain vintage 1945 U.S. Army equipment, which was required for authenticity. The Disney feature reportedly took over one of Vienna’s two production studios to complete filming.
       An advertisement in the 1 Mar 1963 DV indicated an Easter 1963 opening. On 3 Apr 1963, LAT announced the picture opened that day in Los Angeles, CA, theaters. Low-end picture houses and drive-ins were reportedly screening the film on a double-bill with a revival of 1956’s The Brave One (see entry), as stated in the 4 Apr 1963 LAT review.
       The New York City release was held on 22 May 1963, as noted in the 23 May 1963 NYT review. The film played there on a double bill with Flight of the Lost Balloon (1961, see entry).
       Reviews were mostly negative. The 27 Mar 1963 DV complained that the picture was “fuzzy” and “laborious,” with “a confusing and insensitive scenario,” “superficial” characterizations, and “sluggish editing.” NYT also noted the unsentimental presentation of the “romantic thesis that horses are as valuable as men,” and the “dull” characterizations. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1962
p. 10.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 May 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
24 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1962
p. 5.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1962
p. 10.
Daily Variety
1 Mar 1963
pp. 8-9.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1963
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1963
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 1963
Section C, p. 9.
New York Times
15 May 1962
p. 48.
New York Times
23 May 1963
p. 31.
Variety
11 Apr 1962
p. 4.
Variety
17 Oct 1962
p. 3, 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Tech adv
Dial coach
Tech supv in Vienna filming
Additional Lipizzan horses
Additional Lipizzan horses
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ein Leben für die Lipizzaner by Alois Podhajsky (Munich, 1960).
SONGS
"Just Say Auf Wiedersehen," words and music by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Miracle of the White Stallions
Release Date:
March 1963
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 29 March 1963
Los Angeles opening: 3 April 1963
New York City opening: 22 May 1963
Production Date:
4 June--early or mid September 1962
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
11 February 1963
Copyright Number:
LP24526
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
117
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During the final critical months of World War II, Colonel Alois Podhajsky, the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, is denied permission by General Stryker to evacuate the school's prized Lipizzan horses, endangered by the bombardment of the city. Desperate, he enlists the aid of General Tellheim, a sympathetic German who permits Podhajsky and his chief rider, Otto, to smuggle the white stallions to the safety of an old castle belonging to the Countess Arco-Valley. However, the mares had earlier been transferred to Czechoslovakia, and Podhajsky is now faced with the possibility of the rare breed becoming extinct. When an American advance guard arrives at the castle, Podhajsky stages a performance in order to persuade General Patton to include the Lipizzan mares as part of the Allied prisoner liberation program, and the Spanish Riding School becomes officially protected by the United States Army. Under the command of Colonel Reed, the Lipizzan mares are rounded up from Czechoslovakia before the arrival of the Russian force and returned to Podhajsky, thus insuring the continuation of the breed. Ten years later, on the 212th anniversary of the Riding Hall, the Lipizzans are once more performing at the Imperial Court in ... +


During the final critical months of World War II, Colonel Alois Podhajsky, the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, is denied permission by General Stryker to evacuate the school's prized Lipizzan horses, endangered by the bombardment of the city. Desperate, he enlists the aid of General Tellheim, a sympathetic German who permits Podhajsky and his chief rider, Otto, to smuggle the white stallions to the safety of an old castle belonging to the Countess Arco-Valley. However, the mares had earlier been transferred to Czechoslovakia, and Podhajsky is now faced with the possibility of the rare breed becoming extinct. When an American advance guard arrives at the castle, Podhajsky stages a performance in order to persuade General Patton to include the Lipizzan mares as part of the Allied prisoner liberation program, and the Spanish Riding School becomes officially protected by the United States Army. Under the command of Colonel Reed, the Lipizzan mares are rounded up from Czechoslovakia before the arrival of the Russian force and returned to Podhajsky, thus insuring the continuation of the breed. Ten years later, on the 212th anniversary of the Riding Hall, the Lipizzans are once more performing at the Imperial Court in Vienna. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.