Bill's separated from his litter, making friends with the wild creatures until he's found and adopted by young Kathie. An accident separates him from her, and he's drafted into K-9 duty in ... See full summary »
Bill's separated from his litter, making friends with the wild creatures until he's found and adopted by young Kathie. An accident separates him from her, and he's drafted into K-9 duty in the trenches until battle fatigue takes its toll and he turns vicious. And even though he finds his way back home, he may be condemned as a killer. Written by
Having recently watched the woeful AIR BUD 3: WORLD PUP, I've got to say that the dog-movie genre has fallen a long, long way since the halcyon days when this movie was made.
The movie does starts off a little unpromisingly, though, resembling one of those old wildlife episodes of 'Wonderful World of Disney' as cute puppy Lassie - otherwise known as Bill, for some reason - gambols playfully around beautiful Canadian locations, and enjoys lighthearted scrapes with assorted wildlife. Only when she is accidentally shot by a couple of young hunters and saved from mercy-killing by a young Elizabeth Taylor do things start moving.
It is always a little disconcerting to see a young Taylor at work, and be presented with the indisputable fact that her range and skill as an actress improved not one iota throughout her acting career: she was a poor actress as a child, and just as woeful as an adult. Lassie steals every scene they share, even when she's doing nothing. The sickly-sweet sincerity and relentless sentimentality are also pretty difficult to take during this period of the film; only when Lassie is run over by a truck while attempting to escape Taylor's acting do things improve.
Drafted into the army, Lassie saves a surrounded unit at the cost of her mental stability - a curiously effective performance here by Lassie as she flawlessly mimics mental and physical exhaustion - and then, by a series of unlikely circumstances, returns to her old stamping-ground as a mad-dog chicken killer.
While COURAGE OF LASSIE is not quite up to the standard of the original MGM movies in the series, it is still a well-crafted, beautifully shot and occasionally suspenseful flick that will please lovers of this genre and offers an unusual insight into the plight of shell-shocked veterans returning home after WWII.
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