Oregon Movies, A to Z

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Tonka (1958)

January 5th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 2 Comments · 1950's, Oregon film, Oregon film old definition, Oregon location (primary), Westerns

If you are up for entertainment which will take you from the lyric depiction of a boy at peace with nature to the bloody horrors of war, Disney made this film just for you.

Tonka, starring Sal Mineo as America’s first Italian American Sioux, is really three movies in one. In the first, a children’s film, Sal Mineo’s character White Bull makes really good friends with a horse. SPOILER ALERT In the second, White Bull loses Tonka, the horse, to a scheming rival. That film is for the general public. In the third, Tonka survives Custer’s Last Stand. That film is for history buffs.

As one viewer comments on IMDB Those who expect Disney films to be sanitized ought to catch this one, as the Last Stand is quite bloody considering the time period in which it was made, forcing child viewers to deal with the unromantic truth of warfare on the plains, circa 1876.

If you aren’t already a fan of Sal Mineo (Rebel Without A Cause, Giant), this movie will turn you into one.

Tonka is set in Montana. It was shot in Central Oregon. I hereby claim it as an Oregon film.

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