Old Yeller (1957) Poster

(1957)

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10/10
Classic! The Best Dog Story Ever!
cairn62 April 2004
While there are many really good dog films out there, in my honest opinion, they all submit to the leader of the pack, and that leader's name is Old Yeller. I first saw this film when I was 10 years old, and have been a huge fan ever since. While the acting is superb, and the story is top notch, the real star of this film is the 170 pound Labrador/Mastiff mix named Spike who played the part of Yeller with heart and soul. If you are one of the few in the world who does not know the story of "Old Yeller", be warned that you may shed tears after seeing what many consider to be one of the most heartbreaking scenes in movie history. But that scene only makes you love this movie even more as through tragedy comes hope and learning experiences. Don't miss one of the greatest classics of all time.
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8/10
A Disney Classic
druryd20 November 2002
Old Yeller is one of Disney's Best. Superb performances all around, a very touching (especially for dog lovers, it might even be to painful for some i.e. my wife) with a very heart-wrenching ending. They don't make them like this any more. If you enjoyed Old Yeller, may I recommend you give The Yearling a try. Which is even better (if possible) than Old Yeller.
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10/10
A really perfect little movie
T-Boy-328 February 1999
I must have seen this when I was a kid (on TV), but I'd forgotten just how good a movie this is. The technical aspects are great (that color!), the acting believable and naturalistic, and the story moves along at a really nice pace. There's nothing condescending or "cutesy" here, and the plot point of the kid trying to play grown up (ie, Tommy Kirk as man of the house while his father's away) is played out without the traps that so many coming-of-age films fall into: In this boy's world, being an adult is about working and taking responsibility, not sneaking drinks and experimenting with sex. Also, the "messages" were woven nicely into the script, not tacked on and rammed over your head. It also helped that they had actors, rather than "stars". This is really what family filmmaking (a term I generally hate) should be: Something that kids and adults can appreciate.
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10/10
Did you cry?
bellhollow28 June 2004
Not used as a scale of masculinity anymore, but more like a joke among men, Did you cry? Hell yes I cried my ever living loving guts out. I was so upset I probably cried three hours after the movie was over. Guess I was about eight when I saw it but yes, I still cry when I watch Old Yeller. This is one of those movies that every single person in America should watch. And if you have ever had to put a pet down, you know how heart wrenching and how that animal looks back at you with those innocent eyes right before death. But life continues on and death is just one of those parts of life. But Disney knows how to pull every heart string in the world, even a man's.
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A great film
Marta27 January 1999
This film has a lot of heart, and there's not a phony performance in the entire movie. Fess Parker and Dorothy McGuire are perfect as the down to earth parents, and Tommy Kirk shines as the oldest son trying to become a man. Jeff York, who played Mike Fink in "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates", is funny as a lazy settler who doesn't do a thing. Even Chuck Connors has a fine cameo as the real owner of Old Yeller who gives the dog up to please a child.

Old Yeller still has the power to make me cry, and I've seen it at least 50 times. It's sentimental and pushes all the right buttons, but I still love it.
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7/10
The quintessential boy/dog movie
smatysia29 January 2006
The quintessential boy/dog movie. It does have obvious correlations with Marjorie Rawling's "The Yearling". I first saw this film on TV when I was six years old or so. Interestingly, at that time, I remember the Chuck Connors character as menacing and almost evil. On viewing as an adult, that character was a perfect gentleman, giving up the dog to the boy when he was under absolutely no obligation to do so. Also interesting to see the casual, and basically unnoticed cruelty of the Travis character toward the little girl. I don't remember even noticing that as a child. Disney knew how to make real family entertainment in those days. Now, it seems that material suitable for children is targeted directly at them, and is generally a chore for adults to sit through. OY found a way to split the difference. Truly a classic.
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Perhaps Disney's best animal-oriented movie
thull115 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I get the feeling that many people consider this movie "old fashioned". That's unfortunate. The story of people appreciating a dog's love and loyalty should always be considered first rate material. And in this case it was done by the master himself; Walt Disney. Who could not be captivated by Old Yeller's lovable face and smile. The well done story line took him from scoundrel to protector and companion. Granted, the scenes showing Old Yeller fighting off the animal "villains" had a somewhat unnatural look about them; but getting a herd of wild pigs, for example, to do what you want, can't be too easy. And Tommy Kirk really nailed it (the feeling of grief) in the scene where he put Old Yeller out of his misery.
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9/10
Best Doggone Dog Anywhere
bkoganbing8 January 2007
One of Walt Disney's most enduring films in popularity will continue to be Old Yeller. There's something in the saga of the Coates family and that yellow mutt that touches the kid in all of us.

Fess Parker, wife Dorothy McGuire, and sons Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran are the Coates family scratching out a living on a small ranch on the Texas frontier. Dad has to drive their herd to market in Kansas and he leaves the other three behind. Parker though he's second billed in the cast has barely fifteen minutes of screen time in the film. He leaves before the main action starts and returns really as anti-climax. Nevertheless he was a big name back in 1957, coming fresh off his triumph as Disney's Davy Crockett. Didn't hurt him at all to come from Texas for this part.

So McGuire is left to cope with the kids, the farm, and a newly found stray yellow dog that both the boys take to. His coloring makes his name a natural and he proves quite a useful dog, earning more than his keep on the ranch.

Sad to say though that Old Yeller provides the saddest moment in any Disney film since Bambi's mother was shot by the hunters. I really can't say too much more, but the Coates boys prove to be made of stern stuff and Dad provides some sound country wisdom as he gets back from his cattle drive.

Because the setting is out in the wilds there are few human speaking parts. All the players here are well cast, but the one who's the best by far is Jeff York as the Coates neighbor Mr. Searcy. York appeared in a whole bunch Disney features and usually stole scenes in every one of them. York's a guy who's full of wisdom in his own right, he'll dispense with advice at the drop of a hat, but when there's work to be done is usually elsewhere. McGuire does remark it's no accident he's not on the cattle drive. When she needs help on the ranch, York delegates his daughter Beverly Washburn to stay behind. She's a sweet kid and a good worker and Tommy Kirk doesn't mind having her around at all.

Chuck Connors is also in this as a visiting trail boss and I wouldn't be surprised if his appearance here in this family feature led to his family television series, The Rifleman.

Fifty years after it was released Old Yeller is still good entertainment and will be making young folks dream about that idyllic boyhood the Coates kids have on those Texas plains.
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Disney Classic
george.schmidt24 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
OLD YELLER (1957) **** Tommy Kirk, Dorothy McGuire, Fess Barker, Kevin Corcoran, Chuck Connors.

***SPOILER***

Disney live-action classic about Old West pioneer family's adopted stray dog, Old Yeller, who provides protection and much needed love all around. One of the most beloved family films and saddest of endings ever (to quote Bill Murray in `Stripes': `Who cried when Old Yeller died? I cried my eyes out!') landmarks this timeless classic
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Sweet Family Movie
staisil24 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Not a spoiler! "Here Yeller, Come back Yeller! Best doggone dog in the west!" This is a very nice, sweet family movie with spunk. It's basically just about some boys and their best friend, a dog named old Yeller (cuz of his color). The smaller boy is very adventurous and loves Yeller, and won't give him up no matter what. The older boy pretends he is tough, but is just as soft hearted as the rest of his family. Great fun and saddness. 7.5 out of 10.
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10/10
An excellent movie for young and old alike
abe-2723 December 2001
After watching this movie with my son I checked this site expecting a rating closer to 9 or 10 and was a bit disappointed some folks did not enjoy it as much as we did. It's a wonderful movie with a touching and believable story line. Travis and his younger brother Arliss perform flawlessly, though their mother may seem too passive for a frontier woman. The sudden appearance of Chuck Connors (Burn Sanderson) enlightens the story line with a light romantic undertone.

The movie teaches young kids the values of hard work, family love, neighborly support, hospitality and pretty much everything that today's movies seem to overlook as too mundane and banal. I strongly recommend this movie to young and old and give it a rating of 10. In my view the movie should be judged in its genre which is family/kids and not be compared with better adult performances in more serious movies. Surely, Tommy Kirk is not Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mocking Bird" but his performance is just the same for a kid of his age in a family movie.
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9/10
Dog is a Man's Best Friend
v_haritha_in13 August 2014
It is a heart-warming tale of a boy's friendship with a dog. In late 19th century Texas, a homesteader leaves his wife (Dorothy McGuire) and his two sons for a few months to make some fortune in the city. He leaves his elder son Travis (Fess Parker) in charge of the family. The very next day, the family comes across a stray dog. They name him Yeller and very soon he becomes a well-beloved family pet. Yeller is a smart dog and acts as a guardian for the family.

Yeller is in fact the protagonist of the story. His personality is well developed and he steals our hearts with no effort. The dog playing Yeller was one expressive canine. You can very clearly see the emotions on his face.

It is romanticized depiction of the old west but who cares. The location is picturesque. There are plenty of animals; lizards, snakes, toads, hogs, horses, cows, bears, wolves and of course dogs. They seem to be well-trained; most of their scenes look extremely natural. Add to that, the characters are all charming as simple, hard-working and good-natured folk. And, you have an enjoyable little movie for both kids and adults.
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7/10
Very Memorable A Half Century Ago
ccthemovieman-128 June 2006
Of all the movies I saw as a young in the theaters in the 1950s, the only one that haunted me or brought tears to my eyes was this one. It made a lasting impression on everyone in our family. Not long afterward, we bought a Golden Retriever puppy and it was a fabulous dog.

After a long, long absence, I saw it for the third time in the late1990s on VHS. Since I never forgot the sad ending, I was prepared for that. My attitude was great going in, especially since I had become a fan of Dorothy McGuire since her magnificent performance in "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn."

Anyway - hey, I have to be honest - this time around I was disappointed. I think I expected too much since the film had such strong nostalgia value. Yes, it was still a nice old-fashioned story but the impact was so-so and McGuire looked like she had aged 20 years since "Brooklyn." She didn't look like the same person from the famous 1945 drama.

Tommy Kirk went on to be a star on television and in the movies for Walt Disney while I don't believe Kevin Corcoran, who was just as good as Kirk, did a whole lot after this....some westerns into the '60s. Good 'ole "Davy Crockett," Fess Parker, also is in this movie but has a minor role, being seen only in the beginning and at the end. Chuck Connors also had a small role.

A nice story, no doubt. Perhaps another viewing with lower expectations would make me rate this highly again. Just the name "Old Yeller" is still special to me, however.
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7/10
Almost 50 years later and it still can make the most tough unemotional person cry
Kristine11 November 2006
I had refused to see this movie because all I could really hear was about how depressing "Old Yeller" was and how it could make anyone cry. My friend pretty much, in the sense of literally, put this movie in the pile that she lent me and when I called her, she told me to watch it or she'd never take it back. Well, I guess I just wanted to give in since she bugged me every phone conversation from that point on.

Old Yeller is a lost dog that comes across a western set family who's father has headed for money and items for his family. When they find Old Yeller, it's like he's taken the father's position, protecting the family every chance he got. The family comes to love this dog with a passion, even when the original owner comes to claim Old Yeller, he can tell that the dog truly belongs to the family and gives them the dog. But unfortunately, the dog gets rabies... and... sob! You get the point.

I'm not kidding, this movie is so depressing, but this was the kinder version of what Hollywood once was. The story is sweet, just like I said, you'll cry for a few, because almost everyone can admit that they had that dog who was so much like Old Yeller in one way or another. So, I'm not sure if I'd recommend it or not, just for the simple sake of that it brings back old memories. Sob!

7/10
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6/10
Fantasy vision of ranch family life in the post-Civil War years...Disney style
moonspinner5526 December 2010
In 1860s Texas, a youngster must act as man of the house when his rancher-father joins a three-month-long cattle drive; he and his ever-patient, ever-smiling mother take in a lovable stray dog who saves his little brother from a bear, and all grow attached to the mongrel even as a strain of hydrophobia spreads throughout the wildlife. Simple, episodic frontier tale given the Walt Disney touch: lots of cute, heart-tugging sentiment, plus a prescient 'circle of life' message at the end. Tommy Kirk gives arguably his best juvenile performance here, and mom Dorothy McGuire beams commendably without lapsing into syrupy goodness. The gorgeous color photography, the warm family narrative, and a jaunty title song all conspired to make the picture a box-office winner, but the main reason it's called a Disney Classic today is because of that dog. Disney did many things right, one of which was picking the very best animal actors for his live-action comedies and adventures. This lop-eared hound is a beauty to behold, and should enchant even non-dog lovers! **1/2 from ****
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10/10
Personal Opinions on "Old Yeller" from Kelly C
kellyleighcrutcher26 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I saw "Old Yeller" I thought it was a great movie; I still do. If I could rate this movie an '11' I would. Every single time I see that one scene near the end where Yeller contracts rabies and Travis is forced to shoot him I start crying. How did they train the dog to act like that? They did a great job. Was the fight scene filmed with a German Shepherd acting as the 'wolf'? Something else I've wondered: I think Yeller's a 'Black Mouth Cur' but I'm not positive. Also, in the 'Old Yeller' sequel, "Savage Sam;" is "Sam" Yeller's son? I think he is, but I'm not sure. Could someone let me know if I'm right on these questions or not please? Thanks.
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10/10
wonderful movie, NOT cute!!
mllecathy24 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Since the only other comment describes Old Yeller as a "cute" movie, I feel compelled to write just in case there's anyone out there who hasn't seen this movie and is thinking about renting it for their kids. Old Yeller remains one of my childhood favorites, and I heartily recommend it, especially for dog lovers, but it is by no means "cute". It is an exceptionally beautiful story of love and loss and learning to grow up. However, the end is EXTREMELY sad and not appropriate for very young children. I definitely think that all parents should watch this movie with their kids, but they should carefully choose the age at which their child will be ready to handle the very tragic loss seen in this film.
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A Boy and His Dog
Incredible_Brightness27 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After thinking really hard for awhile, I've come to decide westerns are my least favorite kind of film. I just plain old can't get excited about seeing a western. It's a lot easier to do when it's a Disney film though, and I have seen the original Parent Trap with scenes that take place on a ranch. And like most Disney films, that film really worked it's magic on me and inevitably I thought the California frontier of Mitch's ranch was a lot nicer and more inviting than Boston. So I was able to watch Old Yeller, for the first time, and enjoy it just enough because Disney film-making crews really knew how to shoot the land this was filmed on. So Old Yeller is such a good-looking movie, that if it weren't for the times and harshness of survival in the wilderness, you might want to live there. Yes, this is really a movie about a family's survival in the wilderness. And along the way, a boy and his dog have some adventures, and the boy learns the value of being a man.

Which is something we've learned about children and most kids today have at least a chance at a real childhood. The main character of this film surely is the boy Travis and how he has to do all the man's work in his family when the father is gone and how he hasn't time to be a boy. He does each day's man-sized chores but his relationship with the dog Old Yeller allows him to indulge a little in a second childhood he might not have had to enjoy living on the land. So where perhaps Disney's Bambi robbed viewer's of some information regarding the loss of an animal as more than a pet or wild game, this film really shows how much this dog means to the family and Travis. So there is quite an emotional load of work to do as an actor for little Tommy Kirk who portrays the boy Travis. And if it weren't for both the tender moments between him and the dog, as well as him and the sweet little girl Lisbeth, and him putting his survival skills to the test, we would have Disney fluff. Which is not what Old Yeller is.

Old Yeller is a very powerful film, but more than at the outset, where everyone might think the film is about the dog, it's really about the boy and his amazing duties. It really makes a viewer have to respect the old frontier land, especially farmers and families that shows like Little House on the Prairie made an example out of. The film can be a little hard on the viewer though. What is one supposed to think of the child Arliss? He helps the mother and Lisbeth load up a big wagon of corn and loves and cares for the dog, as well as the dog's puppy, Young Yeller. But too often his role in the film is to be somewhat of a troublemaker. That he does a little too well, and that mixes my feelings about the supporting characters. Though it's really just limited to this boy and his rash attitude. He is told by his mother to mind his older brother's instructions, and he consistently defies Travis. I don't want to sound like a slighted older brother myself, though I am an older brother - it's not an easy job.

The character of the mother, or Katie, is the film's strongest supporting character. Fess Parker was really the King of all of Disney's western and frontier-themed entertainment, but his role in this film accounts for less than 10 minutes total screen time. He's most important in the film in two short capacities, he has to be a good role model for Travis, which he is because he is very aptly able to build up Travis's confidence again, but he also has to leave. Because how can a boy learn how to be a man with a male role model around? I'm not sure many movies have tried to answer that riddle, though movies and television have produced some great father figures, the boy who's job is to become a man, he never seems to be able to do it with a father around. Which is unfortunate, since in reality so many family units are forced to make due without fathers. Or worse yet- good fathers. The mother displays more than enough parental responsibility, which just goes to again make a statement about the central importance of mothers.

Not a lot of westerns give the growing boy this meaty a role, but Tommy Kirk is the star of this movie for certain. And his dramatic abilities are so advanced, I almost worry for what he must have been going through at the time, and at such a young age, that he's able to get to such sensitive and heartfelt territory so effectively.
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Check out the FRIENDS Episode...
Frank-N-Stein17 March 2000
If you like this movie you have to watch the FRIENDS-Episode where they all sit at home and watch (& cry) and Phoebe finds out the real ending of the Film, which is not the one her Mom always made her believe! This is a tearjerker (funnywise). Hilarious and a must-see...
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9/10
I cried!
robbearfl28 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie all the way through for the first time last night. yes I cried. I was sent to bed as a kid because of the ending. When he had to put the dog down, I did not bawl, but sure did leak. I have had to put down a few myself and I cry every time. I have 3 great dogs now and to lose any of them will hurt. I know they only live so long, but it hurts every time. My kitty that I rescued when he was less than a week old from a box someone had put out in the sun in South Florida, He was 25 years old, passed peacefully while being petted on the kitchen floor. I had to give him to a friend a few years ago. It still hurts even though, it was for the best that I give him to my friend, as I was sick and homeless at the time and could not take care of myself let alone a pet. He was funny and smart & thought he was a dog and had great personality. Our black lab treated him as her pup when I took him in he was less than a week old. His eyes were not even open yet. Someone had just stuck him and his brother and sister in a box and put out on the street in front of my house. If one gets to the point that they don't feel the loss of their beloved pet it is time to have a soul transplant.
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10/10
Yeller wasn't yellow
woodfrtillson14 May 2002
That yeller dog goes from varmint to lovable companion. The movie carries us along with ease and before we know it, our hearts are in tune with the story. We feel what we should, and sometimes wish we didn't. It's tough to watch real life as well as live it, and like life there's more living after the hurt. Watch this one alone if you're not inclined to show your feelings to others.
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Sad little picture
Darth_Voorhees13 May 2000
A wonderful story but it is super sad.I love my dogs but I would never shoot them.The first time I saw it.I thought it was so sad.I never wanted to see it again.I liked it but it was so sad.Then yesterday I had to watch it for a school project.I fond it was really good.But it still makes a tear fall down my face.So if you like dramas for some kids but not for all.Rent old yeller. It is super good.
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10/10
One of the all time greats
jeffbass-163-62622826 May 2016
Amazing movie on every level. It's fun, adventurous, awful sad, and the dog is incredible. If you buy the latest version you get some great extras. Everybody who was in this movie said it affected them on a very personal level. How could it not? It's Old Yeller and it contains some of the best dog scenes ever. He's a big, amazing and lovable dog. His real name is Spike, and he was rescued from a dog shelter. He was chosen because of the way he responded to humans talking to him. He turned his head sideways like he was trying to understand, which charmed the movie makers. He also was a big strong mastiff/lab mix, so he was powerful yet very smart and train-able. I honestly don't understand how anybody can rate this as mediocre or poor, but there are those who lack heart and base their reviews on all sorts of technical nonsense. I feel sorry for them. This movie has tons of heart, so much that many people simple can't watch it again or they break down sobbing.
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8/10
If You Want to See a 'Boy and His Dog' Film, See This
joshuafagan-6421412 December 2015
This is one of those films that is best known for one scene. You know the one I'm talking about. But trust me, there is far more to the film than that. There is loss, love, loyalty, hope, fear, doubt, and trust.

The premise is so simple that it has become part of cliché. When his dad goes away, a boy, despite some reservations, befriends a haggard-looking dog named Old Yeller, who ends up saving his family more than once. As time goes on, his bond grows for the animal, and so does the threat that he will lose it.

Even if you somehow don't know the ending, you know where this is going. It's a typical, if well-done and tragic, 'Boy and His Dog Story.' This sort of movie has been around for centuries. It wasn't new then, and it certainly isn't new now. But it's not about whether it's new or not. People are so obsessed with new concepts instead of new characters and new ways and new combinations. A good story is a good story. It's really as simple as that.

The 'boy' in this story is Travis, and the actor that plays him, Tommy Kirk, is alright. His delivery is stilted but his facial expressions are well-done; all in all and considering his age, I'd say he's 'good.' The mother is excellent, and not just in comparison to the child actors; she really is played well. The rest of the cast is fine.

There is one character who annoys me to no end, though through no fault of his child actor. The little brother... I'm sorry, I can't stand him. He's not even cute-annoying in the way that a real little boy is. He's just written to have no redeeming qualities, and you're supposed to not harp on him because he's just a little kid, and I'm not gonna let that slide.

Thankfully, he's not in the movie that long, so he doesn't ruin it for me. Neither do the accents and lingo, which seem awfully forced and played up, but are forgivable. The main reason this film doesn't get full marks from me is because I wasn't invested in the characters- I felt for them, but only because they were in a good and well-crafted situation. They themselves do not interest me a bit.

Still, it's a good film, and I can certainly see why so many people love it and why it has lasted this long. The parts of it that work really work. 'That scene' is one of the saddest and most emotional of any 50s movie, and easily the best part of the film. I love how they build it up, and how it (the scene!) is shot. The whole 70 minutes you've already watched flash before your eyes.

That scene, as well as every other in the film, is well built up. The writing is tight here. Nothing is extraneous or overdone. It is only an 83 minute film after all. In fact, I might have preferred a few more character scenes. But tight is tight, and I'm not gonna argue with that.

This is a fifties film through-and-through. I think how transparent it is stops the cheesiness from seeping through (the decade was a cheesy one for film).

Enjoy. There are a lot worse ways to spend an hour and a half.
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