Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

From Speedboats to Horses Don Johnson Rides for a Cause in Hbo's `in Pursuit of Honor'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

From Speedboats to Horses Don Johnson Rides for a Cause in Hbo's `in Pursuit of Honor'

Article excerpt

TV watchers retain a vision of Don Johnson as Detective Sonny Crockett, zooming over Miami Bay in his souped-up speedboat. Now they can see him ride a horse with equal style.

Next Saturday, HBO begins airing "In Pursuit of Honor," a movie based on an obscure, heroic episode in U.S. Army history. In 1935, according to the script, Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered hundreds of cavalry horses to be herded to Mexico, where the plan was to destroy them. The move was part of the switch to a mechanized army.

Five Army men, led by Regimental Sgt. Major John Patrick Libby, countermanded the order and attempted to lead the horses 2,000 miles from Sonora, Mexico, to free dom in Canada, chased by an Army force on wheels.

"I love horses," Johnson, the former star of "Miami Vice," said over coffee one morning at his Coldwater Canyon home. "I've always loved horses. I've been around horses all my life. There's a grace about horses that I feel sort of internally - a visceral connection with horses, it seems like.

"When I was a kid, we were living in Wichita, Kan., and every summer we would visit my grandparents in Missouri, where I was from. Whenever I could get out of my grandmother's eye line, I would slip off down into the pasture.

"I would take a piece of baling twine and catch one of the horses. I'd get up on a stump - because I wasn't tall enough - and jump on the horse's back and ride it around the pasture. He'd get tired of fooling around with me and start to take off, and then - I'd jump."

Johnson said "In Pursuit of Honor," originally called "Fiddler's Green," had been knocking around Hollywood for years.

"Apparently it was originally written for John Wayne," he said. "Then it fell in my buddy Clint Eastwood's hands. It ended up in my hands. It's a very noble and honorable story, one that wouldn't get made except for HBO."

The movie was filmed in Australia. Why not the American West?

"Budgetary concerns were an issue," Johnson said. "The major issue was that there is very little country left in America to get the kind of vistas and scope we wanted, without highways and telephone poles and condominiums. …

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