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Benji (1974)

A stray dog saves two kidnapped children.

Director:

Joe Camp

Writer:

Joe Camp

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Patsy Garrett Patsy Garrett ... Mary
Allen Fiuzat Allen Fiuzat ... Paul
Cynthia Smith ... Cindy
Peter Breck ... Dr. Chapman
Frances Bavier ... Lady with the Cat
Terry Carter ... Officer Tuttle
Edgar Buchanan ... Bill
Tom Lester ... Riley
Christopher Connelly ... Henry
Deborah Walley ... Linda
Mark Slade ... Mitch
Herb Vigran ... Lt. Samuels
Larry Swartz Larry Swartz ... Floyd
J.D. Young J.D. Young ... Second Policeman
Erwin Hearne Erwin Hearne ... Mr. Harvey
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Storyline

The first movie about the famous golden mutt. Benji is a stray who has nonetheless worked his way into the hearts of a number of the townspeople, who give him food and attention whenever he stops by. His particular favorites are a pair of children who feed and play with him against the wishes of their parents. When the children are kidnapped, however, the parents and the police are at a loss to find them. Only Benji can track them down, but will he be in time? If he can save the day, he may just find the permanent home he's been longing for. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

At last! A motion picture that just plain makes you feel good! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 October 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Beniamino See more »

Filming Locations:

Denton, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$39,552,600
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some exterior shots were shot in Denton, TX. You can see the courthouse, city hall, and Denton Civic Center. See more »

Goofs

The opening scene shows Cindy missing her two front teeth. The second scene, representing the next morning, shows her teeth full grown. Later in the movie, they are at different stages of partial-growth. See more »

Quotes

Mary: [to Benji] You have more independence than most people, and more charm.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits did not scroll. Instead they were shown in still form over a different background of a still shot of Benji from the actual movie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Benji's Theme (I Feel Love)
Music by Euel Box
Lyrics by Euel Box and Betty E. Box
Performed by Charlie Rich
See more »

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User Reviews

 
If Dogs Made Films
9 July 2006 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

Although I did initially see Benji as a kid in 1974, I want to talk about some interesting facets of the film for adults instead.

Just a brief comment on showing the film to kids, though. It's probably going to be more of a gamble at this point in time for kids to watch Benji. There's a chance that older kids will be bored by the pacing, content, and general lack of humor. They'll probably hate the music, too. For younger kids (say, maybe 8 or younger), there's a better chance that they'll be entertained merely by seeing cute dogs do unusual things and also that they'll identify with the two child stars, who are about their age. But during the climax of the film, there is some more intense material (at least the ideas involved--the actual images are relatively tame) that may disturb some children.

I think that Benji is probably a safer gamble for adults at this point in time, but you have to approach it in a particular way, not necessarily approaching it either nostalgically or as a kid's film. Viewing Benji at this point in time, it played as a dog's film, told from a dog's perspective. While this is not the only film to tell a story from an animal's perspective, producer/writer/director Joe Camp does something unusual in that he plays things mostly seriously and realistically. There is a bit of tongue in cheek-ness to the whole affair--and one section that is a very funny outright spoof of late 1960s/early 1970s romance films, and the events are idealized slightly in a way that we might imagine a dog to idealize them, but overall, Benji is played straight, not for laughs or melodrama.

That fact is the cause of some unusual structural properties. Dogs' lives tend to be far more routine than humans' lives. Benji, as extraordinary as his life happens to be, is no exception. He's a stray who has a long daily routine that involves visiting various friendly people to obtain food. So the first half hour of the film sees Benji, from his perspective with a few third person omniscient intrusions, cycle through his daily routine two times.

On the third run-through, things begin to get more dramatic as his routine is broken up slightly--both in a positive way when he finds a girlfriend by the way of a Maltese and in a negative way when some shady characters intrude into his otherwise abandoned home. Although I agree that an interesting, entertaining film could have been made out of just showing Benji go through his routine, that would have been relatively avant-garde, and Camp maybe decided that his dog-perspective film was unusual enough already, so the principal story turns out to be these intrusions which set up more classical dramatic conflicts.

And Camp did a fine job of designing the film in the way he did. The climax works as well as it does only because he has taken us through Benji's lengthy daily routine a couple times. The climax and the build-up to the climax hinge on Benji hurriedly traveling his circuitous daily route a couple more times, and what pushes the events over the edge to success is that Benji has to strain to think more like a human.

I wouldn't have picked up on any of these things seeing the film as a preteen in 1974. But they are there, and for adults, this is an entertaining film as much for its unusualness as for any other reason--you just have to watch it with this in mind. This is what films might be like if dogs made them. And if you decide to show Benji to your children and explain these unusual qualities to them, you might just find it a more enjoyable experience for both of you.


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