Meet Bess, the gallant horse who earned World War II glory! Based on a real-life incident, this inspiring film tells the story of orphaned farm boy Tex Barton (Marshall Thompson), who leaves his beloved horse behind when he enlists in the Navy. Pneumonia claims the horse and Tex is heartbroken -- until he rescues an injured mare on a South Pacific island, a four-footed heroine who returns the favor by saving Tex and his Seabee buddies from a Japanese attack. Thompson's engaging rapport with his equine costar foretells his success in more animal-friendly fare: he portrayed African veterinarian Marsh Tracy in the hit movie Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion and its TV spinoff "Daktari."
According to the MGM publicity department, GALLANT BESS was based on a true story, as told by Naval Reserve officer Marvin Park. Bess is a beautiful mare owned by young Tex (Marshall Thompson), who runs a stock ranch. When Tex joins the Seabees at the outbreak of WW2, he is forced to leave Bess behind. The mare dies while giving birth, putting Tex in a deep blue funk until he befriends another horse while stationed on a tiny Pacific Island. The horse turns out to be a good-luck charm for Tex and his fellow seabees, prompting a series of rather incredible plot twists. Though GALLANT BESS was accepted as gospel by the great majority of filmgoers, ex-navy men laughed and laughed at the film's depiction of "kindly" commanding officers and C.P.O.s.
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