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By Dawn's Early Light

1 rating: 3.0
A movie

Richard Crenna stars in this Showtime Original as an old-school Colorado cowboy who finds himself having a hard time dealing with his frustrated grandson who has been sent to stay with him unwillingly from Los Angeles. Soon, the boy's behavior has … see full wiki

Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about By Dawn's Early Light

By Dawn's Early Light - 2000

  • Jul 8, 2008
Pros: acting, story line, scenery

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: "By the dawn's early light
Oh now, I must saddle up and ride
By the dawn's early light"
~ Yonder Mountain String Band

This story centers around the relationships of one family. In California we find the distant father and mother, interested in everything but their son. The son, Mike, is 16 and full of spite for everyone and everything. He completely ignores his parents, which is fine, because they ignore him as well. The usual interaction between them is accusatory and cynical. He is the typical modern child, raised by televisions, computers, games, and music. These are the things he identifies with because his parents offer him nothing else.

Deciding to distance themselves even further, they take a summer sabbatical, sending Mike off to Colorado to spend the summer with his grandfather. This is a hard working ranch man, having little use for the likes of this city boy, who he finds spoiled and overbearing. Mike, as well, has even less in common with a grandfather he barely knows and certainly would rather be anywhere except stuck on a ranch in nowhere Colorado.

Grandpa, finally giving in to Mike’s demands, agrees he can return to California … with a twist. They will travel on horseback. The trip makes the story.

By Dawn’s Early Light was written by Jacqueline Feather and David Seidler, directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman. It received the Children’s Script Award from Writers Guild of America.

The main characters are Grandfather Ben Maxwell, played by Richard Crenna. Maxwell goes into this encounter with strikes already against him. He has unresolved issues with his own daughter, Mike’s mother, and he is a tough, no nonsense, rancher. The last thing he wants is this spoiled kid dumped in his lap and he takes it upon himself to straighten the kid out. Crenna played perfectly into this part with his craggy looks and witty mannerisms. He looked and acted every bit the grizzled rancher, saddled with a surly teenager.

Mike, played by Chris Olivero, was cocky and unresponsive. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t give a flying rats patootie about life, he just had no direction or focus. Olivero had just enough swagger with some underlying tenderness to make this part believable.

Joining them during part of their ride was Nick and Eddie Decker. David Carradine played the part of Nick, a seasoned wrangler, joined by his son, Eddie, played by Patrick David. It was the interaction between these two that brought some focus into play for Mike, letting him see that people actually do have lives they enjoy between parent and child.

The filming was quite beautiful and we remarked that it was amazing that there was so much empty land still left around for these scenes. Of course, I told Diane, out West there are miles of land undeveloped, much like was shown. However, before you join hands and break into God Bless America, the filming was done in Vancouver. So much for the glorious West … sigh.

Overall impression
Even though this movie is fairly predictable from the beginning, it was still a nice watch with a good ending. It was strictly character driven, with some lively characters involved. Definitely a movie centered on hope and forgiveness. Nicely done.



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