Rin Tin Tin (love that name) movies were made for the Saturday matinée kiddie audience of the silent era. This is the first dog star movie I've ever seen, and I got it from inter-library loan only because Jeanine Basinger wrote a chapter on Rinty in her book "Silent Stars", expounding on the wonderfulness of this wonder dog. It seems unfair for me, an adult watching this film 86 years later, to criticize it. Fortunately, there is little to find fault with.
The epic battle throughout the entire film between Rinty and the Condor was thrilling. Kudos to the bird, the cameraman and director and, of course, Rinty. Rinty's supporting human actors were fine. June Marlowe was beautiful, her face expressive, making subtitles unnecessary. Rinty's owner was bland, but the "villain", a suspicious and vindictive neighboring rancher, was properly threatening and scary.
The only faults I'll mention are (1) there were too many subtitles, a fault common to silent films. Although, on the positive side, these intrusive subtitles did teach the eager youngsters how to read. And (2) Rinty did not have enough to do. Yes, he ran like lightning across the fields in pursuit of the bad bird and he barked and leaped at the Condor on his mountainous perch, but it wasn't until his big scene at the family dinner table that he really delivered the goods. Rejected and dejected, in closeups he shows his "human" emotions, so much so that all the 6-year-olds watching recognized Rinty's dilemma and their hearts melted in sympathy. Rinty, in his quest to destroy evil, personifies virtue and goodness, which makes him an exemplary role model for children ... and for adults who need reminding.
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