HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
   
 
Newest Articles
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
   
 
  Lassie Come Home Always count on the cross-dressing collieBuy this film here.
Year: 1943
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Stars: Roddy McDowall, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Crisp, Elsa Lanchester, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Ben Webster, Edmund Gwenn, J. Pat O’Malley, Alan Napier, Arthur Shields, John Rogers, Alan Craig
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Growing up in Depression-era Yorkshire, young Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowall) is devoted to his dog Lassie. But Sam Carraclough (Donald Crisp) and his wife (Elsa Lanchester, former Bride of Frankenstein (1935)) are hit by hard times and forced to sell their beloved border collie to the Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce). His little granddaughter Priscilla (Elizabeth Taylor in her first major role) is sympathetic to Lassie’s plight and helps the homesick dog escape. Whereupon Lassie begins a long, arduous journey home to her loving Joe.

Based on the 1938 novel by Eric Knight, and bearing a dedication to the author and serviceman who was killed in the Second World War, Lassie Come Home remains an evergreen classic, a great example of MGM family entertainment and a fixture of children’s programming to this day. Originally intended as a low-budget, black and white effort, MGM gave this the full red carpet treatment including lustrous Technicolor - for which cinematographer Leonard Smith was nominated for an Academy Award - and a tiptop cast of veteran character actors and radiant youngsters. Working his magic behind the camera was Fred M. Wilcox, an unsung MGM hand who directed a great many memorable movies including The Secret Garden (1949), Forbidden Planet (1956) and the daring race-relations drama I Passed for White (1960).

As the opening narration declares this is the story of a dog but it is also the story of a strong and enduring working class people. Tough but tender performances from Elsa Lanchester and Donald Crisp - reunited with Roddy McDowall after the John Ford classic How Green Was My Valley (1941), another rough hewn but uplifting ode to rural working class life - ensure that while this may have been shot on American soil, there is nothing phoney about the characters. MGM may have been glossy, but they were never crass. In spite of the occasional spiteful supporting player like mean-spirited dog handler Hines (J. Pat O’Malley), there are no real villains in this story save for circumstance with poverty being the force that drives the Carracloughs to desperate measures. A beautifully played scene finds Mrs. Carraclough struggling to harden herself while she explains to Joe how they simply can’t manage a dog and a child on such a meagre income.

Unlike many “boy and his dog” movies, neither Joe nor Lassie are so single-mindedly devoted to each other that they are blind to other people’s feelings. Roddy McDowall is outstanding and Elizabeth Taylor - stunning, even in childhood - is adorable from the moment she bounces into frame, mimicking her grandfather’s footsteps. Her beauty and natural acting talent won immediate attention from filmmakers and moviegoers alike, before she leapt to superstardom the following year in MGM’s excellent National Velvet (1944). Taylor and McDowall were cast opposite each other again - minus Lassie - in a thematic sequel of sorts: The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).

Of course the star attraction is our canine heroine Lassie, played by the very male Pal who sired generations of successors to his famous screen role. Canine cross-dresser he may be, but Pal was one heck of an actor and ably carries the bulk of the episodic, but consistently engaging story. He crosses mountains, swims streams, befriends an elderly couple (a very moving interlude with real-life husband and wife Ben Webster and Dame May Whitty) and a travelling tinker (the ever-lovable Edmund Gwenn), who has his own well-trained pooch called Toots, falls afoul of a pair of thieving ne’er do wells and eludes dogcatchers with near fatal results. By the time “she” appears before Joe, bedraggled and half-starved, only the most hardened animal hater could fail to be moved.

As most will know, this film made Lassie a global institution and MGM made no less than six sequels: Son of Lassie (1945) directed by S. Sylvan Simon casts Peter Lawford as a grownup Joe in love with Priscilla (June Lockhart, future mom in Lost in Space) and under fire in WW2 till Lassie saves the day; Courage of Lassie (1946) brought Elizabeth Taylor back as child star with Fred Wilcox returning to the director’s seat; he was back again for Hills of Home (1948) while The Sun Comes Up (1949) saw future historical epic specialist Richard Thorpe take the helm. Thorpe also directed Challenge for Lassie (1949) which actually pilfers its plot from another famous tale of doggy derring do - Greyfriars Bobby!

Harold F. Kress directed the last Lassie movie for MGM: The Painted Hills (1951), although Pal continued to play the supernaturally intelligent collie in the popular Fifties television series that gave us the “Green Sleeves” theme tune and the infamous “Timmy’s trapped down a well” catchphrase. Even after Pal’s death in 1958, the show continued well into the mid-Seventies and thanks to near-constant reruns has sealed itself inside the collective pop culture consciousness of youngsters such as myself. Far more so than the frankly rubbish, 1980s series (wherein Jon Provost returned as a grownup Timmy) that perversely reversed the earlier scenario to having Lassie imperilled in every episode till her owners saved the day. What on earth would Pal make of that? Also worth mentioning is the British made Lassie (2005), which revisits the source novel with stellar results.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4336 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: