Thursday, May 11, 2006
During Disney's wonder years of movie making in the 60's and early 70's they had many family friendly hits like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The World's Greatest Athlete, The Love Bug, Million Dollar Duck and others. Most of them were so big that they had 2 or 3 sequals. My favorite of them all is Snowball Express. It was a hit but unfortunately not big enough for any sequals. This movie is one of Dean Jones best. Mr. Jones is Johnny Baxter a big city accountant who inherits a Ski Lodge in the Rocky Mountains. Seeing this as his way out of a dead end job he quits and packs his family to move to the resort sight unseen. Once there he is sadded to see that the Lodge is baddly in need of repair before he can ever open it for business. They find that a man who these days would probably be called homeless has been living there. He is played by Harry Morgan and as long as he wants to help them fix up the place and work there they will give him room and board. A young teenage boy named Wally is hired to help and be the ski instructor. Actually he wants the job so he can be near Johnny's daugther. The town banker wants the land the hotel is on and is about to forclose on the land because Johnny's relative still owed him money. The Baxters enter a snowmobile race to win the money but come in last. Finally the day comes that Johnny can't pay and is about to sign the Lodge over to the banker. However, at the last minute he finds that the Lodge comes with 3000 acres of douglas fir trees that the banker wants to cut down and that the land the town is on is also his. His relative gave the town the land as long as they built a library, a church and 2 hospitals. Johnny's son tells his Dad that he didn't see any library in town so how come the town doesn't revert back to him? This means that Johnny Baxter may own the whole town. That includes the bank. The Baxters keep the Lodge and all is well.
The people at Disney are masterworkers with this type of film. At times they have tried to duplicate that success again with movies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and most recently with Herbie Fully Loaded. Hopefully they will have a big success with this again real soon. The first time I saw this movie was at the Madison in Covington, Ky. At that time that was the closest theatre to my home. Years later I actually had a hard time finding this movie on tape years ago. I got to thinking about it and how I would like to have it in my video collection. Every store I went to either never heard of it or was sold out. Then I called Suncoast Video and they had one copy left. I drove there right away to buy it.