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The Man From Snowy River is a 1982 film based on the Banjo Paterson poem of the same name, set in Australia in the late 1800s. It tells the story of the title character, Jim Craig, a stockman from the Snowy Mountains whose dreams of making his living breeding horses are put on hold when the death of his father and the loss of his broodmare to a herd of wild horses (called "brumbies") force him to descend to the lowlands to work as a hired hand on a cattle ranch owned by the wealthy Harrison.
In the process, Jim meets and falls for Harrison's rebellious daughter Jessica, and faces prejudice from both Harrison and the other hired hands over his mountain origins. When Harrison's prized colt is set loose to join the brumbies and Jim is blamed for it, he joins the group of stockmen organized by Harrison to chase the herd down, in order to prove his innocence and his worth.
The film stars Tom Burlinson as Jim Craig, Sigrid Thornton as Jessica Harrison, and Kirk Douglas in the dual roles of Harrison and Harrison's crippled brother Spur; it features a score by Bruce Rowland and a lot of impressive Australian scenery.
A sequel was released in 1988, titled The Man From Snowy River II in Australia and released as Return to Snowy River in the US. The sequel picks up Jim's story upon his return to the Snowy River region and deals with his efforts to get his horse-breeding business off the ground and resume his relationship with Jessica, who now has a competing suitor in the person of a banker's son, Alistair Patton. Kirk Douglas did not reprise his role as Spur and Harrison, and was replaced in the latter role by Brian Dennehy.
The films inspired a spinoff TV series, Banjo Paterson's The Man From Snowy River (Snowy River: The McGregor Saga in the US), which focuses on a different cast of characters in the same general setting.
The films provide examples of the following tropes:
- Acting for Two: Kirk Douglas as Harrison and Spur in the first movie.
- Blatant Lies: Spur serves Jessica beef from a cow stolen from Harrison's ranch. When she asks about the "H" brand on the cowhide, he says it stands for "homeless."
- Character Overlap: Clancy and his "vision splendid" come from Paterson's poem "Clancy of the Overflow." The character is namedropped in the original poem "The Man From Snowy River," but is given a significant role in the movie.
- Chekhov's Skill: In the sequel, Jim displays the talent of using the right stirrup of his saddle as a weapon. He uses this during the 'Skill At Arms' Course near the beginning, then uses it again at the climax to take out Patton's main crony.
- Cool Horse: Both Jim's trusty mountain horse, Denny, and the stallion that leads the brumbies.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: Jim, when he beats up Curly and his cronies in the first movie.
- Kick the Dog: Alistair Patton has several instances in the sequel, the worst of which is when he shoots Jim's horse.
- Land Down Under
- Love Triangle: Harrison, Matilda, and Spur in the backstory of the first movie; Jim, Jessica, and Alistair Patton (briefly) in the second.
- The Other Darrin: Brian Dennehy takes over the role of Harrison from Kirk Douglas in the second film.
- Posthumous Character: Jessica's late mother Matilda plays a significant role in the backstory of the first movie.
- Prospector: Spur, whose stubborn insistence that his mine will pay out someday is a Running Gag in the first film.
- Romantic False Lead: Alistair Patton in the sequel.
- Scenery Porn: Both movies revel in it.
- Title Drop: Clancy calls Jim "a man from Snowy River" at the end of the first movie.
- Took a Level In Badass: Jim, when he successfully herds the Brumbies back to the ranch, as well as his mare, Bessie, and Harrison's colt.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Harrison and Spur, brothers played by the same actor, although Spur's wild hair and bushy beard mitigate the effect considerably.