1943, MGM. Directed by Fred M. Wilcox. Roddy McDowall, Donald Crisp, Dame May Whitty, Edmund Gwenn, Nigel Bruce, Elsa Lanchester, Elizabeth Taylor.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Kids & Up|
Content advisory: Some mild menace and a scene of violence in which a dog is killed.
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Lassie Come Home (DVD, book)
From a National Catholic Register review
By Steven D. Greydanus
As Old Yeller is the classic story of a boy and his dog, Lassie Come Home is the classic story of a dog and her boy. Adapted faithfully, often word for word, from Eric Knight’s beloved novel, and ably directed by Fred M. Wilcox (The Secret Garden, Forbidden Planet), Lassie Come Home is a dog story from the dog’s point of view, the story of a magnificent tricolor collie who will allow nothing to come between her and her self-appointed duty to meet young Joe Carraclough (14-year-old Roddy McDowall) at precisely 4:00pm as he gets out of school in his Yorkshire village.
The obstacle to this duty, of course, is that Joe’s father Sam (Donald Crisp) is eventually forced out of financial necessity to sell Lassie to the wealthy Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce). However, Lassie twice escapes from the the duke’s disagreeable handler Hynes (J. Patrick O’Malley) in order to keep her appointment with Joe, and eventually the duke takes Lassie to an estate in Scotland, over a thousand miles from her home.
But Lassie’s sense of loyalty — not to mention direction — cannot be deterred by unimaginable distances. Abetted by the duke’s young neice Priscilla (a precious ten-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in her second movie role), Lassie embarks on a journey in which she will face hostile dogs, suspicious herdsmen, the mighty Tweed river on the Scottish-English border, and even bandits and dogcatchers, along with more sympathetic individuals who will help her complete her journey.
As comforting as Old Yeller is bittersweet, Lassie Come Home benefits from its charismatic canine star and from the source material’s sure sense of time and place, a poor Yorkshire village in which "ye," "thee" and "thou" are still common parlance and life on the dole is a matter of necessity. Despite his family’s poverty, Joe’s happy ending doesn’t hinge on a change in their fortunes. Winning the lottery couldn’t have made him feel as lucky as his Lassie come home.