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I remember seeing Goodbye My Lady back when I was a lad as the second
part of a double feature. I was pretty amazed at this most unusual
Young Skeeter, who lives with his Uncle Jesse in the swamp area near Pascagoula, Mississippi comes upon a most unusual dog in the swamp. It grooms itself like a cat, has a hyena like laugh instead of a bark, and has the speed of Secretariat. Any kid like the one I was when I saw this would want to possess an animal like this. When Skeeter finally does capture him he finds he's got the most natural hunting dog ever seen those parts.
Brandon DeWilde was a pretty popular child actor in the Fifties, Shane and The Member of the Wedding cemented his career. He and Walter Brennan playing Uncle Jesse are a winning combination. They get good support from Phil Harris as the local grocer, Sidney Poitier has a small role as a young black neighbor and William Hopper, the Yankee visitor from Connecticut.
Would you believe this film was produced by John Wayne? His Batjac Production company occasionally did films that did not star the Duke. Duke got a top director in William Wellman with whom he had just finished The High and the Mighty to direct Goodbye My Lady and Phil Harris and William Hopper who was in the cast of same. Wellman mixes all the elements just right for a winning film.
This unusual dog turns out to be a basenji from Africa and of course the dog is lost from it's real owner. The ending isn't what you would expect from a boy/dog picture, it's more real and that's as far as I go at this point.
Living in Buffalo as I do now, there's a bit of humor here that non- Buffalonians can't appreciate. Phil Harris has a hunting dog named Millard Fillmore, named after our 13th American President. Fillmore is somewhere in the middle rank of Presidents generally, but as a native of Buffalo, you'll find a few people in this part of the world who will accord him as great.
Harris makes a joke about nothing ever being named for Fillmore. Where I live there's a page or two in the phone book for things named Fillmore. That must have sent up a few howls back when I was a kid in theaters here.
This is one of my all-time favorite family films. It doesn't remind me of
"Old Yeller" or "Lassie," but something different. It centers around an
elderly backwoods hillbilly (Walter Brennan)who is raising his young
grand(?)nephew (a very young Brandon DeWilde). The boy finds a strange dog
in the woods and, after much reluctance, adopts the dog, only to find that
it is one of the strangest breeds (Basenji) in captivity. (Being a Basenji
owner, they are indeed very strange but lovable). The film is very moving
parts, especially when you first note the gradual bond between the boy, the
dog and the old man and how the little dog seems to bring out a lonely side
of the little boy that you don't pick up until that part of the film. Yes,
the dog does "sing" ( Basenjis do not bark, they "yodel") and it runs very
fast (they are fast runners). The boy's fascination with figuring out just
what this dog is all about really manages to capture and hold your
throughout the entire film. Even you will want to figure out what this dog
is all about.
Walter Brennan is hilarious, although it appears as though this role was intended to be on the light side, not hysterically funny side. I found myself laughing so hard in the scenes where he is running to catch up to the dog or running to get the wood chopped when he is suddenly awakened from a long nap. His character is "Grandpa McCoy" from "The Real McCoys" but a little more gritty (at least Grandpa McCoy had dentures). Brandon DeWilde is absolutely marvelous. And "Lady" is both magnificent and fascinating to watch.
Check this one out. It's well worth a family get-together for a few good laughs and for bringing folks together. And if you get the chance to watch a Basenji's antics, even you'll be asking, "Is this really a dog?"
I too caught this one on American Movie Classics and I have to say it's a modest little movie that does a lot of things right. The moment we hear of a movie about a boy and a dog, we expect a surfeit of sentimentality, a la "Old Yeller". This movie is rather understated, right down to being in black & white and having a single acoustic guitar do the background music. The movie does not opt for the cheap happy ending it might have, but gives us something sadder and more real. By doing so it makes for a much richer movie. This fine little film isn't going to be on anyone's "ten greatest movies" list, but it's worth a see.
I just caught this film recently on American Movie Classics. It was
than I ever would have expected. The summary for the film reads like a
Disney story "An old man and a young boy who live in the Georgia swamps
brought together by the love of a dog.", but the film actually mixes in a
lot of humor with a sad story.
The stars in the film include Sidney Poitier, who doesn't play a real major role in the film, and Walter Brennan. If you know who Walter Brennan is, then you've proved that you watched those Sunday afternoon Westerns as a kid, like "How the West Was Won" or "Support Your Local Sheriff". Brennan's unique voice has been mimicked over the years by many, and is one that almost everyone would recognize. It's the unmistakable "country hill-billy" voice that we all can help but smile when hearing.
The film isn't a comedy, but give the viewer plenty to smile about. Uncle Jessie's as the stereotypical hillbilly is the source of many of those grins. He is supposed to be cutting firewood to make money, but he can't seem to cut more than 1 or 2 pieces daily before succumbing to an all-afternoon nap. He also has some fun dialog like "when I gets me enough money I'm gonna git me a set a dem Roebucker-teeth [false teeth from Sears & Roebuck], and if-en I save enough maybe I'll git me a couple-a gold ones" or some banter with his nephew Skeeter that includes words like "mighten" and advice to "don't crowd God".
Skeeter, the nephew (played by Brandon De Wilde), has some great facial expressions throughout the film and also has some funny scenes with Lady (the dog).
The dog that they boy finds and subsequently catches and names "Lady" is said by the boy and Jessie to "laugh, sure as day" - and by God, they weren't lying. The dog in the film actually laughs! I mean it's a dog-laugh, but it's unmistakable.
Anyway, while not a film that I would rate as a "can't miss", "Good-bye, My Lady" was a fun film that had it's touching moments, but mixed in a lot of fun. A really good Sunday afternoon flick and a must for Walter Brennan fans.
I was introduced to this movie by my niece, who had seen it at her vocational school. She and her friends (about a dozen girls) sat and watched it over and over, and cried their eyes out at the end every time! For a 50 year old movie to have that much impact on a group of modern 15 and 16 year old kids really says something about the quality of its content. It is certainly out-dated in many ways, and shows training techniques that would, no doubt make the ASPCA cringe today. For those of us that grew up in a little less gentile world it brings back memories of how life used to be. The acting in the film is good throughout, the characters are generally believable. If you have ever had the pleasure of interacting with a Basenji, than you will realize that most of what is depicted in the movie concerning the dog is quite plausible. It is one of the best dog movies I have ever seen, and really worth a look (if you can find it).
There is a very interesting item about this film that is not mentioned on the information page about the dog. Without exception, this is the only film that features the basenji, also known as the African barkless dog. I know of only a couple other films that show a basenji, but just briefly, one of which is "The African Queen", where, near the beginning, you see it for only a moment. The film gives a good depiction about the nature and characteristics about the breed. I can attest to it since I grew up with this breed and have been around them for over 40 years. It's a shame that the breed is not used more often. If only this movie were available on DVD!
Phil Harris's contribution to this low-key gem should be acknowledged. Harris does not strike a single false note in his role as the local merchant and bird hunter. Sydney Poitier is a little less believable. By the way, the characters are properly described as swamp folk, or swamp rats, not hill billies.
I saw this movie with my father when I was a kid, of course we loved the movie. In Spanish the title was Inseparables. I have been looking for this movie for several years, finally my daughter found it on internet and ordered it for me as a Xmas present. We watched it today and I could remember just about everything in the movie. I am a little confused, I remember when I saw the movie many years ago, Lady returns to Skeeter and Uncle Jesse, but the owner comes back to get her. He takes her away again, but this time she does not return. This did not happen in the movie that we saw today. Am I mistaken? Did the movie have an alternative ending? Any clarification to this will be greatly appreciated. We enjoyed the movie so much and it brought wonderful memories of my dear father.
This is a nice film directed by William Wellman about "Skeeter"
(Brandon DeWilde) who finds a most unusual dog in the swamps near
Pascagoula. He lives with his uncle (Walter Brennan) and decides to
keep the seemingly stray dog and name her "Lady".
Lady turns out to be a very good hunter who can stand "on points" when she finds birds, but also has a penchant for chickens and rats as well. She is a sort of terrier, is what they assume, not realizing she is actually an African Basenji, rare and unusual.
There are a few amusing scenes, as when Brennan's neighbor brings his heeler, old "Millard Fillmore" to hunt with Lady, and Lady out bird-dogs "Old Mill" (what kind of name is that). Also when a kennel owner from Old Lyme, CT comes to look at the dog, and says the dog should be fed meat every day, ...Yankees treat their dogs good....they muse. Oatmeal and bacon fat isn't good enough?.
There are also some nice scenes of the mangrove swamps and Spanish moss. Pretty scenery, rough to live in though. Sidney Poitier has a brief role also, as he reads up on the dog and finds out its history. Won't spoil the ending here.
It's a sweet film without being overly sentimental, just the bond, unconditional love of a boy and his dog. 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll start by writing that "This is a great movie!"
It's about a boy and his dog, very much like "Ole Yeller" and "Benji;" but, also, very much unlike other dog movies like "Cujo."
A boy named Skeeter (Brandon De Wilde) living in the bayous of Louisiana finds a lonely and unattended little dog running about and decides to keep 'her' as a pet...and, attempts to train her as a bird-hunting dog.
From "Lady's" size and behavior, other people find this dog to be useless as far as hunting and view her as nothing more than a cute little pet...maybe capable for killing rats, at best. However, they are all proved wrongly as this dog, a central African Basenji...a 'barkless' hunting dog that makes a 'yodeling' noise called a barroo, proves herself as a flawless 'hound' that can point her master towards hunted prey without scaring that prey away with a familiar dog bark.
Everyone should see this movie. Walter Brennan is as wonderful as always; Sidney Poitier is great as the 'smart' character he always is; and, Brandon De Wilde and 'My Love of the Congo' as 'Lady the Dog' are priceless!
Everyone should see this lost classic at least once...or, twice! :)
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