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"The Biscuit Eater" (Paramount, 1940), directed by Stuart A. Heisler,
pre-dates all those sentimental "boy and his dog" tales so popular on
1950s television and Walt Disney family dramas (such as "Old Yeller" in
1957), but I feel this is one of the best of the litter. It features a
cast of actors not known for playing lead roles but perform their parts
as if those viewing this are watching actual people.
Billy Lee (1929-1989) stars as the little boy, Lonnie, accompanied by his best friend, Text (Cordell Hickman), who is black. They take an unwanted dog from a litter of puppies and hope to train the animal into a champion bird hunter. Richard Lane is featured as Lonnie's father who feels the dog, named Promise, is no good, and doesn't want it around. Of course Lonnie proves Dad wrong as well as everyone else, but something happens to change all that.
Others featured in the cast include: Helene Millard (Mrs. McNeil); Lester Matthews (Captain Ames); and Frederick 'Snowflake' Toones (Text's Dad). The actors, even the animals, are all believable as well as excellent. As Bob Dorian, former host of American Movie Classics cable channel where "The Biscuit Eater" played regularly from 1994 to 1999, says the movie was filmed on location (something rare in those days) in Albany, Georgia. "The Biscuit Eater," at 81 minutes, makes good family viewing. However, the brief scene in the everglades where Lonnie and Text try to retrieve their dog, Promise, from a very old and zombie-like Negro, might scare some younger viewers.
"The Biscuit Eater" was later remade by Walt Disney in 1972 with Johnny Whittaker (Jody of TV's "Family Affair") and George Spell. Thus far, the 1940 original has never turned up on video cassette or DVD. What a pity. (***1/2)
I saw this excellent film on AMC many years ago. It was well-made and moving. I especially liked the natural friendship between the black and white boys. AMC played the movie quite a few times that month, and it was well worth rewatching.
something brought this film to my mind today..and i can still remember seeing it when i was child..a long,long time ago. i remember the ending and how moved i was as an eight year old and to this day i still feel that choked up feeling when i think of it..i have never caught it on any tv movie chanel..
The comment from the person who saw this as an 8 year old certainly
brought back memories for me.
I must have seen this film at least three times during the pre-TV days of Saturday morning special programs for children.
If you've ever sat in a theater packed with eight to twelve year olds all bawling their eyes out together, you know it is something you'll never forget.
I was able to find a VHS of the movie in later years and was astonished to find how charming the picture is on the adult level as well.
Kudos, hugs, and kisses to anyone still alive who helped put it together.
This film is the first sound picture filmed entirely on location, with good plot, and great action by the dogs that actually DO their stuff the way they were bred to do. I saw this film over five years ago, and can't seem to find it anywhere, either playing or on tape. I Highly recommend it to all families with any breed of dog in their homes. It's "breed specific" but that is just what it's about. Hope you can find a copy and enjoy it as much as I did.
I have seen The Biscuit Eater (1940) on television and it has been one of my favorite films. Have not seen it in a long time and would like to have a copy of this film. If you know how I can get a copy let me know (email@example.com) please. This is a picture for all ages to see...it has a wonderful lesson on life. What better story to tell about than a boy his good friend and their dog. I have seen the remake of this film the 1972 color version and it is just not the same as the original 1940 black and white version. The 1940 version takes you really back into the era of when the story is taking place and you can go there with the boys and their dog. This movie should really be one of the all time great CLASSIC movies.
stumbled on this one while watching amc one day. this movie is better than old yeller and thats saying somthing. i related to the relationship of the boy and his father very well and growing my dog at times was my best friend. i highly recommend watching this movie if u get a chance. make sure its the 1940 movie and not the remake with jonny whittaker.
This is more than a great story. It features the best hunting dog
photography I've ever seen. The movie shows a way of life and cultural
images that are long forgotten, as well.
The real tragedy is that no one seems to be able to find a copy of this movie. Please contact me if you know how to get a copy
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not sure if it could be called a "spoiler", but the ending of this movie, even right now when I think about it, has forever kept me in tears. I have seen it maybe only 3 times in all these years (am 53 now), and it still never failed to have me so emotional at the end. And even today, when ever I go to a pet store with dogs (even cats now), or when I went to a pound twice to get a new pet, I can not stay in there for long before my voice breaks and I start shedding tears. This movie had such a profound, and ever lasting effect on me, and will till the day I pass away. I LOVE this movie more than anything I have ever seen, and wish it were available on DVD, or even VHS! Yes, even a guy can cry too.
Much more than the story of a boy and his dog but a mature look at the coming of age of two boys as experienced through the travails of Promise, their misfit hunter. Extremely engaging view of the pre-WW2 South with subtle religious undertones. I've seen it three times and have found something new with each viewing. The fact that we own six dogs helps account for our affection for The Biscuit Eater.
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