Cast (in opening credits order): Frank Converse, Caroline Lagerfelt, Sasha Radetsky, and Adrien Brody as Billy.
Written & Directed by: David deVries
Genre: A family drama about farm life and values, similar in tone to say, “Old Yeller” or “Where the Red Fern Grows.”
Running time: 59 minutes
MPAA Rating: unrated, but I’d say it’s a “G”
Note: I did a deep dive on this one, mostly because it’s not that common of a movie. I figured, in this case, “spoilers” are helpful.
Where We Start
Billy is a tough troublemaker from New York, trying to fit in with a Swedish immigrant family on a farm in Nebraska. There are some bumps along the way, but the story of Billy’s transformation plays out nicely in the film’s short run time.
As we start out, a prologue (black screen, white text and a voice over) provides some background to the story. “From 1853 to 1929,” the voice explains, “over [150,000] homeless orphans were sent west to new homes and new lives on ‘orphan trains.'”
We then open on New York City, 1882. There, we are introduced to Billy (Adrien Brody), who is petting and speaking to a carriage horse named Susie. He then greets customers boarding a carriage, who fail to place a tip in Billy’s outstretched hand.