I have a great love for Disney movies, just as a lot of people do. I always have. The first movie I ever saw in the theater was a Disney movie, so was the second. This episode of BehindTheNerdyGirl, I’m sharing with you the second movie I was lucky enough to see in the cinema. An incredibly remarkable true story of Sonora Webster, Diving Girl…..and her brave horse Lightening. (You’ll understand if you’ve seen the movie, if not WATCH IT!!)
Teenage Sonora lived with her Aunt Helen and little sister in a small town in Georgia, during The Great Depression, after Sonora’s parents had got the fever and died. She had big dreams of going to Atlantic City. After getting into some trouble at school, she sees an ad in the local store’s newspaper looking for a Diving Girl for a traveling show. Back at home, her aunt informs Sonora she can no longer care for her, she’s just too much to handle and the following morning she will be turning Sonora over to the state. That night Sonora kisses her sister goodbye and makes her way to a festival, seeking Dr. Carver, the owner of the act seeking the diving girl.
While looking through the fair for Dr. Carver, Sonora meets Clifford. A hot dog vender with dreams of performing death-defying acts. He points her towards the High Diving show. She catches the tail end of the show, Marie diving on her horse 40 ft into water. It’s quite a magical moment. (Disney style) Sonora finds Carver’s tent nd overhears him talking with his (very handsome) son Al. Al leaves and she makes her way in, introducing herself as his new diving girl. Unfortunately, she is not what he’s looking for, and let me tell you, it’s quite an interesting comfortable funny conversation. Sending her on her way, she tracks down Al, talking him into explaining the show to her. She makes her way back to Dr. Carver and lands a job as a stable hand.
The job wasn’t glamorous but it paid and put a roof over her head, food in her belly. Got her closer to her dream. It sure beat living on the street being hungry.
One day, Al brings home a wild horse and makes plans with Sonora to train the horse, she named Lightening, behind his father’s back, to help her get his father to train her as a diving girl. They worked for a while breaking that horse. During which, than began falling for each other too. Though Sonora was very young and naive. Once they broke the horse, they showed her and the Lightening off to Dr. Carver, earning her a spot to try for a diving girl spot. Carver pushed her real hard to make a moving mount, mounting the horse while it was running by her. She fell quite a few times, busting her nose and concerning Al at one point. Carver refused to let her stop until she got it, which she did. But it also pissed Al off beyond belief. So bad, he left, promising Sonora he’d write her.
Sonora continued her training with Dr. Carver and Marie. During a training session, Marie gets hurt and Sonora’s dreams finally come true as she is now headlining the show. This really ticks Marie off and she quits, leaving Sonora as the only diving girl. The show continues and Sonora does wonderful, so does Lightening. Al does as he promised and wrote Sonora everyday, however, his father hides the letters from her, thinking it was best. Dr. Carver hires Clifford to help out with the horses. A bit of time goes by and the show starts going out less and less. Meanwhile, Al arrives in Atlantic City, discussing the diving show with the main man.
Carver and Clifford had out to another city to see if they can keep the show opened. While they are gone, Al shows back up. Dr. Carver and Clifford arrive back home with bad news, the show has to close. A bit of time goes by and Carver receives a telegram from Atlantic City. Everyone packs up and start heading towards all their dreams. Along the way, Dr. Carver passes away. Grab the tissues! Al takes over the show in Atlantic City. As Al is preparing for the act, rehearsing his speech, Sonora runs out and grabs Dr. Carver’s jacket for Al, and finds one of Al’s letters. It expressed his love for her. She gives the jacket to him with a kiss.
Getting ready for their first show, a big band plays kind of upsetting the horse Sonora will be jumping. As she goes to climb the tower for her famous jump, Al asks her to marry him in front of everyone. She said yes! She continues her journey up the tower and Clifford let’s the horse loose. Right as she pulls herself upon the horse, seconds from diving, the crash of the music spooked the horse and he reared up, sending them falling over the edge. Everyone in the audience held their breath as Sonora and Red Lips came crashing into the water. A few seconds later, they both surfaced, unhurt. Though Sonora’s vision was blurry…she had her eyes opened when she hit the water. A couple of days later, while getting dress, Sonora lost her sight. Al took her to the doctor who explained because she had her eyes opened and didn’t get immediate medical care, her blindness was permanent. She refused to accept this. She refused to give up her dream of being a diving girl. After sometime, she talked Al into letting her train blind, with her horse, the one that knows her as well as she knows him. Her attempts did not work out and Al ceased the training. He called Marie into replace Sonora.
Sonora wasn’t having it and she recruited Clifford to help her. Clifford locked Marie in her trailer right before the show and let Lightening out of his stable. Sonora counted her steps and climbed the tower, while Lightening waited for her below. Al and the boss man looked on in horror, knowing no one wanted to see a blind girl kill herself. At the top, she stood, raised her arm and dropped it. Lightening began racing up the tower towards her. She listened to every footstep. He came running right by her, she grabbed on, and made that dive.
She dove blind for several more years and the audience never knew. Later that year, her and Al were married and had a very happy life.
I love love this story. Never let anything hold you back. You can do anything.
The movie stars Gabrielle Anwar as Sonora, Michael Schoeffling as Al, Cliff Robertson as Dr. Craver, Kathleen York as Marie, and Dylan Kussman as Clifford.
Thought? Comments? Drop them below or find me on Twitter @erinwise82