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weatherbeaten

Lassie Come Home

Lassie Come Home (1943) is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature film starring Roddy McDowall and canine actor, Pal in a story about the profound bond between Yorkshire boy Joe Carraclough and his rough collie, Lassie. The film was directed by Fred M. Wilcox from a screenplay by Hugo Butler based upon the 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight.

The original film saw a sequel, Son of Lassie in 1945 with other films following at intervals through the 1940s. In 1954, the Emmy-winning, long-running television series Lassie debuted on CBS, further cementing Lassie's iconic status and making her a babyboomer favorite. A British remake of the 1943 movie was released in 2005 as Lassie to moderate success. The original film and its sequels continue to air on television and have been released to VHS and DVD.

Cast

  • Pal as Lassie, a rough collie and the companion animal to the boy, Joe Carraclough. Pal was credited as "Lassie" (rather than Pal) in the film.
  • Roddy McDowall as Joe Carraclough, a Yorkshire schoolboy and Lassie's companion human and guardian
  • Donald Crisp as Sam Carraclough, Joe's father
  • Elsa Lanchester as Mrs. Carraclough, Joe's mother
  • Nigel Bruce as Duke of Rudling, grandfather to Priscilla
  • Elizabeth Taylor as Priscilla, a young girl sympathetic to Lassie's plight and the Duke of Rudling's granddaughter
  • Dame May Whitty as Dally, an elderly woman who aids Lassie on her journey homeward, and is married to Dan'l Fadden
  • Ben Webster as Dan'l Fadden, married to Dally
  • Edmund Gwenn as Rowlie, a tinker who befriends Lassie during her trek
  • J. Pat O'Malley as Hynes
  • Alan Napier as Jock
  • Arthur Shields as Andrew
  • John Rogers as Snickers
  • Alec Craig as Buckles

Plot

Set in Depression-era Yorkshire, England, Mr. and Mrs. Carraclough (Donald Crisp and Elsa Lanchester) are hit by hard times and forced to sell their rough collie Lassie to the rich Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce), who has always admired her. Young Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowall) grows despondent with the loss of his companion. Lassie will have nothing to do with the Duke, however, and finds ways to escape his kennels and return to Joe. The Duke finally carries Lassie to his home hundreds of miles distant in Scotland. There, his granddaughter Priscilla (Elizabeth Taylor) senses the dog's unhappiness and arranges her escape. Lassie then sets off for a long trek to her Yorkshire home and the boy who loves her. She faces many perils along the way (including a brush with dog catchers and a violent storm) but also meets kind people who offer her aid and comfort. At the last, when Joe has given up hope of ever seeing his dog again, the weary Lassie returns to her favorite resting place in the schoolyard at home. There, Lassie is joyfully reunited with the boy she loves.

Production notes

During the film's production, MGM executives previewing the dailies were said to be so moved that they ordered more scenes to be added to "this wonderful motion picture."

Pal was coached in the role of "Lassie" by Rudd Weatherwax. Weatherwax would later receive all rights to the Lassie name and trademark in lieu of back pay owed him by MGM. He then teamed up with producer Robert Maxwell to create the long running 1954 television series Lassie. Unlike the several MGM films which were set in Britain, the television series was set on a weatherbeaten American farm. The series would become a babyboomer favorite and would make "Lassie" an undisputed icon of American television and culture.

Reception

Bosley Crowther in the New York Times of October 8, 1943 uniformly praised the performers and production, noting that the film "tells the story of a boy and a dog, tells it with such poignance and simple beauty that only the hardest heart can fail to be moved."

Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color and later the character of Lassie received a Star on the Walk of Fame at 6368 Hollywood Blvd. In 1993, Lassie Come Home was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

References

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