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 ...
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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
Lassie as a shell-shocked war hero steals the show...
This is a mildly entertaining Lassie film in which the collie (who is named Bill in the story) plays the leading role while the human players (ELIZABETH TAYLOR, FRANK MORGAN, TOM DRAKE) are mere foils. The plot concerns a pretty teen-aged Taylor who finds him in the Canadian wilderness, loses him when he goes astray, and finds him again in time for a heart-warming conclusion, but only after war-weary dog has gone on trial for, of all things, murder.
It starts out slowly as a nature film with nothing but shots of rabbits and other woodland creatures before it gets to the heart of the story with the opening scenes of Frank Morgan and Elizabeth Taylor (in her early teens and seemingly unspoiled, giving one of her more natural performances). Taylor's fawning over Lassie seems genuine, if a bit too sentimental, and it's a relief at the finale that she is reunited with her pet.
Standout are the war scenes where Lassie is forced to help American soldiers in a dangerous assault on some Japanese soldiers. Lassie is trained in these chores by soldier TOM DRAKE and after battle fatigue sets in he becomes another shell-shocked victim of war. How he's able to return to Taylor for the film's happy ending is the balance of the story.
Nicely done, filmed in wilderness areas of Canada and the state of Washington, but still just a minor entry in the Lassie stories.
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