Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation) (1983) - Rotten Tomatoes

Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation) (1983)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation) Photos

Movie Info

Phar Lap, the legendary New Zealand-bred racing horse, is as well-known today for his mysterious death as for his fabulous accomplishments in life. Beginning at the end, the film flashes back to the day that Phar Lap, despite his lack of pedigree, is purchased on impulse by trainer Harry Telford (Martin Vaughan). Phar Lap loses his first races, but Telford's faith in the animal is unshakable. Suddenly the horse becomes a winner, thanks to the love and diligence of stableboy Tommy Woodcock (Tom Burlinson). American-promoter Dave Davis (Ron Leibman) arranges for Phar Lap to be entered in several top races, where his "long shot" status results in heavy losses for the professional gamblers. Just after winning an important race in Mexico, Phar Lap collapse and dies; though the film never comes out and says as much, it is assumed that the horse was "murdered" by the gambling interests. The film is based on a book by Michael Wilkinson. The real-life Tommy Woodcock appears in the film as an elderly trainer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Tom Burlinson
as Tommy Woodcock
Martin Vaughan
as Harry Telford
Judy Morris
as Bea Davis
Ron Leibman
as Dave Davis
Celia Deburgh
as Vi Telford
Vincent Ball
as Lachlan McKinnon
James Steele
as Jim Pike
John Stanton
as Eric Connolly
Peter Whitford
as Bert Wolfe
Roger Newcombe
as James Crofton
Richard Morgan
as "Cashy" Martin
Robert Grubb
as William Neilsen
Simon Wells
as Newsboy
Steven R. Bannister
as Cappy Telford (Younger)
Les Foxcroft
as Brazier Man
Warwick Moss
as McCready
Alan Wilson
as Jockey in Steam Room
Redmond Phillips
as Sir Samuel Hordern
Don Reid
as Committeeman
Brian Harrison
as Committeeman
Tim Robertson
as Policeman at Stables
John Stone
as Reporter at Stables
Cliff Ellen
as Float Driver
John Russell
as Race Commentator
Arthur Sherman
as American Reporter
Randall Berger
as American Reporter
Brian Adams
as Mike Vincente
John Cobley
as Sub Editor
Dave Johnson
as American Racecall
James Wright
as Reporter at Station
Terry Gill
as Mechanic
John Higgins
as American Reporter
View All

Critic Reviews for Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation)

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

The film is buoyed by good performances, strong production values and Williamson's writing, which finds a genuine but bittersweet way to commemorate one of Australian sport's best performing athletes.

January 2, 2016 | Full Review…

With more confidence and more bravura, the movie might have been as smashing as its subject. Instead, it finishes just out of the money.

September 23, 2019 | Full Review…

The film is richly acted... And it's as well paced as a good race by director Simon Wincer.

July 19, 2019 | Full Review…

A movie you'll never forget....tears aplenty

June 11, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation)


I watched this as a boy and it had me in tears (almost). Really heartwarming tale for young and old alike.

Barry Lappin
Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

Phar Lap (Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation) Quotes

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