Days of the Pony Express
Scout Pictures Documentary, 2008, one disk, 60 minutes, $20.
This action-driven documentary provides solid information about the roots of the Pony Express and the young men who carried the mail on horseback for that historic if short-lived enterprise. Horse lovers will appreciate many of the action sequences filmed at Western Frontier Adventure (an Old West town near Leavenworth, Kan.) and other locations in Kansas and Missouri. Jim Conlon, promotions manager at KQTV in St. Joseph, Mo., wrote, produced, edited and codirected this lively presentation made for the Pony Express Museum and the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Justin Rother has the lead role as legendary rider Johnny Fry (also seen as Frey or Frye). Thanks to his youthful energy, buckskins and riding ability, Rother delivers a believable and enjoyable performance. We see him start off from St. Joseph on the inaugural ride (it happened 150 years ago this April 3), and in one of the more entertaining sequences, a hard-riding seamstress (played by Penny Arnold) chases after him because she wants the kerchief Fry is wearing. In one of the DVD specials, Conlon discusses how Rother landed the role by showing up early and fully prepared (“like Johnny Fry returning from the past”) and how smiling Penny Arnold had trouble maintaining a smile for the camera while riding at breakneck speed. Conlon’s Scout Pictures has partnered with Outpost Worldwide Pictures to produce a high-definition version of the documentary for network television.
Originally published in the April 2010 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.