THE STORY: When a famous French mail train is robbed in a rural area, the thieves stash their loot inside an abandoned factory in a poor village, planning to return when the heat dies down. They hide the key inside a wooden horse that the local kids play with. The local children stumble on the key and the cash, and fight to keep the crooks from it. The movie has comedy, drama, and suspense and is quite a little gem.
BEHIND THE SCENES: All of the actors selected for this project were new to the Disney Studio except the young girl, played very well by Pamela Franklin, who appeared again in a Disney theatrical feature 3 years later, "A Tiger Walks". The actors and plot are very good, and the costumes and set are very authentic due to high quality art direction by Michael Stringer. While the film is supposed to be set in France, almost all of the shooting production was actually completed in England at the Pinewood Studios. The outdoor set of the French village was built entirely from scratch on the studio backlot and was one of the largest movie sets the British film industry had ever seen at over a million square feet in size. It took 8 weeks to construct, and used 50 tons of concrete. It is completely convincing on camera, and you would never know it is all a studio set. The village was kept intact by Pinewood Studio and Disney producers used the set again 3 years later, after doing an incredible job of redressing it to become a Scottish village for the film, "The Three Lives of Thomasina".
"Horse Without a Head" was originally released theatrically overseas in 1961, but never in the US. This is curious because the production values and quality of the film are much higher than many other projects that Disney distributed to theatres at the time. Two years later it finally aired on the Disney television show, "Wonderful World of Disney", for the first time in two parts beginning on 9/29/63. It re-aired in '64, and '67. It was later serialized on The New Mickey Mouse Club. I recommend you track down this little gem, we enjoyed it immensely.