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A Boy and His Dog won an Oscar in 1946 for Best Short Subject and in
its less than 30 minute running time spins a nice tale of a dog
choosing its own master.
Young Billy Sheffield frees a cruelly mistreated dog from a trap and the hound follows him home. That of course doesn't sit well with owner Russell Simpson. Homespun and wise country judge Harry Davenport shows just why he is a judge in that neck of the woods in his decision.
Basically that's the sum and substance of the film. I couldn't help feeling that it could have been expanded and been a nice feature film.
Though Harry Davenport is true to type, Russell Simpson plays very effectively against his usual roles. I'd never seen him as a bad guy before, but he was quite effective.
A Boy and His Dog is still a nice family film. And I do love seeing Harry Davenport make Russell Simpson an offer he can't refuse.
A country boy (Billy Sheffield, brother of Johnny of the Tarzan movies), who has recently lost his father, befriends a mistreated coon hound which is owned by an ornery cuss(a character actor you will recognize if you have seen many westerns from the 30s and 40s). The hound follows the boy home after being extricated from an entanglement. After tracking the dog to the boy's house and being run off by the boy, the owner files a complaint, and a short trial ensues. The judge, played by venerable actor Harry Davenport, actually presides at two short trials involving the dog. According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, this was from the golden age of film shorts, and made by Warner Bros.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . Private Property would become a thing of the past in America. ("Squire Kirby" notes that he's not affiliated with ANY level of the U.S. Judicial System; and rightly so, since it's clear his legal thinking is 100% Bolshevik.) Under Kirby's Law, if you covet your neighbor's Corvette, you can "confiscate" it the first time you notice it's a little dusty. If you then run it through a car wash, that proves you a more worthy owner than the guy who's paying for it (since Do-Gooder Kirby must belong to his local Be Kind to Your Chevy Club). By the same token, your crush on the wife next door need not be unconsummated, since every spouse has vulnerable periods of being "neglected" or "smothered" by her mate on a daily basis, leaving her "fair game" for you to pounce! "Buck" (we're never told his REAL name) looks perfectly healthy and well-fed after four years of costly care and feeding by owner Mr. Thornycroft. The fact that he survived his first four days with dog thief Davy Allen proves nothing. In fact, it's clear that Davy and his newly-widowed mom lack the means to support "Buck" in the manner to which he's become accustomed (unless "Mom" can marry into Mr. Thornycroft's household). We're never told how many young Thornycroft kids or grandkids are missing their dog. It takes more than one instance of a tangled dog chain (or a dusty Corvette, or a lonesome wife) to deprive a man of his "best friend" in America--but apparently NOT in Kirby's native Russia!
A BOY AND HIS DOG suffers from being nothing more than a short tale
about a boy who sets free a dog being cruelly treated by a neighborhood
man (RUSSEL SIMPSON). When the man tries to reclaim his dog, there's a
trial at which the country judge (HARRY DAVENPORT) decides in favor of
the boy as the new owner of the mistreated animal. That's it.
Strangely enough, this is directed by LeRoy Prinz, who later became the dance director for many a Warner film. And the boy is played by BILLY SHEFFIELD, who looks like he would have made a good Tom Sawyer except his acting skills are unremarkable. He's the brother of Tarzan's Johnny Sheffield. DOROTHY ADAMS lends some warmth to the tale with her portrait of the boy's sympathetic mother.
But it's a sugary confection, easily forgotten.
Boy and His Dog, A (1946)
*** (out of 4)
Oscar winning short about a young boy (Billy Sheffield) who rescues an abused dog only to have its evil owner (Harry Davenport) take him to court to try and get it back. If you're a diabetic then you might fall into a coma due to all the sugar sprinkled on this thing but the film succeeds at doing what it tries. The film certainly just wants to be sweet and on that level it works as director Prinz does a very good job at telling the story and doing so in a loving nature. He also manges to make a great villain with Davenport, a well-known character actor, doing a great job at just being plain mean. The story doesn't really offer us anything new or original but it's all handled in a good fashion. The biggest problem with the movie is the performance by Sheffield who comes off very weak especially in any scene where he's suppose to show emotion.
A barefoot orphan and his faithful basset hound meet up with a folksy Harry Davenport in this manipulative short from Leroy Prinz, who should have stuck to dance numbers. Not recommended to anyone who doesn't have a good supply of insulin on hand.
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