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The Son of Rusty (1947)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Family  |  7 August 1947 (USA)
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The fourth film in Columbia's "Rusty" series is a lecture against spreading gossip. A young army veteran comes to town, and Danny and his friends learn that he had spent time in a military ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Ted Donaldson ...
Stephen Dunne ...
Tom Powers ...
Thurston Hall ...
Counselor Franklyn P. Gibson
Matt Willis ...
Luther Hebble
Rudy Robles ...
Gono, Gibson's Valet
Rusty ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chuck Hamilton ...
Ralph Volkie ...
Truck Driver


The fourth film in Columbia's "Rusty" series is a lecture against spreading gossip. A young army veteran comes to town, and Danny and his friends learn that he had spent time in a military stockade for an infraction of a regulation. Danny's friends spread the story all over town. The seriousness of the minor infraction grows with each telling. As a sidebar, Rusty finds a mate and becomes a father. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family






Release Date:

7 August 1947 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Talk About a Stranger
11 July 2007 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE SON OF RUSTY (Columbia, 1947), directed by Lew Landers, the fourth installment in the series featuring a boy and his dog with a plot element making this to be by far the most satisfying entry revolving around the Mitchell family and the town of Lawtonville.

The story's main focus is on a stranger in town named Jed Barlow (Stephen Dunne) who arrives with a female German shepherd, Barb, and settling down on the Groover farm in the outskirts of Lawtonville. The moment Barlow arrives, his unfriendly attitude towards everyone and wanting to keep mostly to himself creates suspicion. Barlow is equally unfriendly towards Danny Mitchell (Ted Donaldson) mainly because his dog, Rusty, can't stay away from Barb. (Can you blame him?). Rusty even travels four miles from home to be with his new companion. In spite of warnings to keep Rusty away, changes occur when Barlow's dog comes to the Mitchells for help, with Danny and Rusty following to find Barlow suffering from malaria. He contacts Doctor McNamara (Harlan Briggs), who tends to his needs. Because of his help, Jed agrees to have Danny and Rusty come over whenever they want. Regardless of their friendship, vicious gossip spreads about Jed, leading to talk about him being a convict from military prison, and containing explosives on his property that nearly kills Rusty as well as his friendship with Danny. Further complications find Barlow placed in jail awaiting his trial, while the citizens, especially Luther Hebble (Matt Willis), the one most responsible for gossip spreading who earlier socked him for not being patriotic, would want nothing more than to run Barlow out of town, with Councilman Franklin P. Gibson (Thurston Hall) being criticized for defending his case.

Stephen Dunne, the central character of the story, makes a fine mystery man, and considering he's not a relatively well-known actor, his performance appears more like a natural person. He would return to the series in RUSTY SAVES A LIFE (1949) assuming a different portrayal but no different than the one of Jed Barlow. Also in support are Rudy Robles as Gibson's Filipino chauffeur, and Dick Elliott as the Mayor.

In spite of the opening credits reading "Original Screenplay by Malcolm Stuart Boylan," the story overall seems to be far from original, in fact, too similar to an earlier screenplay used for JUDGE PRIEST (Fox, 1934) starring Will Rogers under the direction by John Ford, where its plot revolves around a stranger (David Landau), who takes up residence in town, keeping to himself and acting very unfriendly towards his neighbors. Because he's very secretive about his past, he falls victim to malicious gossip as well, and faces trial after defending himself from a physical attack. Regardless of similarities between these two films, both are equally good bearing a moral lesson of how damaging gossiping can be.

Although this entry may sound overly melodramatic, there are lighter moments thrown in for good measure. The story opens amusingly as Danny and his friends (Mickey Maguire, Dwayne Hickman, David Ackles and Teddy Infuhr) take a "private property" sign belonging to a city counselor Gibson, and placing it on the door of their clubhouse where they are found by Gibson listening to a weekly radio program featuring Fang, a dog detective, sponsored by Vitabark Dog Food. After Gibson confronts the boys, he agrees on letting them hem have their meetings on his property by renting them a shed for $4.25 along with a 99 year lease. In another set at the 4th of July celebration gathering, Danny's father, Hugh (Tom Powers), a city attorney and public speaker, boring the citizens as well as his wife, Ethel (Ann Doran), with his reading of "Man With a Country" by Edward Everett Hale. Zzzzzz.

With much of the screenplay revolving around the humans, dog lovers will be glad to know that there are notable scenes where Rusty and his mate have the screen to themselves where they are playing, roaming in the woods, as well as showing love and affection towards one another. Rusty also shows his smartness by responding to Danny's commands by doing dog bits such as sitting up and barking.

What does this entry have to do with the son of Rusty? Nothing, really, except for its few minutes late into the story where Rusty (Flame) and Barb becomes parents to a litter of puppies with the camera giving a closeup to one particular doggie standing out among the others, the son of Rusty. For Rusty's sake, let's hope he's the father!

Out of circulation from the television markets since the 1960s, THE SON OF RUSTY was finally returned to television with a June 2, 2007 showing on Turner Classic Movies. This and others in the series make fine family viewing. Next in the series: MY DOG RUSTY (1948) (**1/2 bones)

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