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Review: 'Running Wild' captures cowboy's unbridled enthusiasm for horses

A colorful, sometimes strained, past led conservationist to establish a horse sanctuary in South Dakota.

October 03, 2013|By Robert Abele
  • A still from "Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde."
A still from "Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde." (Prodigy Public Relations )

A veteran cowboy would seem to be a difficult subject to resist for a documentarian, as the cowboy life tends to be a potent combination of scenic beauty, storytelling richness and mythic personality. So even when it meanders, and "Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde" occasionally does, director Suzanne Mitchell has a ready supply of landscape and lore to corral viewers back in again.

The Michigan-born, Berkeley-educated Hyde, a gently grizzled, soft-spoken conservationist now in his late 80s, certainly earns his bio-doc credentials as the man behind a 12,000-acre wild-horse sanctuary in the Black Hills of South Dakota. But he's also been a rodeo clown, rancher, photographer, wildlife enthusiast, prolific author and activist against uranium mining. Mitchell treads gingerly when it comes to Hyde's family, and the strain that obviously developed when Hyde played the born-roamer card and left his wife and kids behind on their Oregon ranch after the death of his daughter. (He now lives at the sanctuary.)

But this boundlessly busy man's passion for horses is unbridled and palpable, and his efforts to give the wild ones a large, safe place to run free gives "Running Wild" — executive produced by Barbara Kopple — an admirably friendly, sentimental lilt.


"Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Town Center, Encino; and Pasadena Playhouse.


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