This low-budget effort wasn't expected to do much at the box office, but moviegoers fell in love with the title collie, and many sequels, a radio program, and a long-running TV show followed. In Yorkshire in the dark days after WWI, young Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowall) is forced to give
up Lassie when his parents (Donald Crisp and Elsa Lanchester) can no longer afford to keep the dog. After escaping once from her new owner, the Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce), Lassie is taken by him to Scotland, and, freed by the duke's sympathetic granddaughter (Elizabeth Taylor), makes a long,
eventful journey back to Joe.
This Lassie, actually a male dog named Pal, was bought for $10 by trainer Rudd Weatherwax, who had worked for MGM training animals for PECK'S BAD BOY and THE CHAMP. The studio wanted a female dog and Weatherwax was chosen to find a good one, but when shooting began the female shed heavily and was
replaced by Pal. Contrary to popular belief, this was not Taylor's first film. She had been signed to a brief contract by Universal and appeared in THERE'S ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE the year before. Even more than costar Roddy McDowall, the seductive Taylor has that uncanny quality some child actors
possess of looking and sometimes acting quite like an adult, even at a pre-adolescent age. The presence of these kids, and that of the well-trained pooch, quite upstage the endearing and highly professional actors surrounding them. Still, this film is a fairly well-balanced effort, and if you're
in the mood for an evening of obvious sentiment, this boy-and-his-dog film works quite well. leave a comment