Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Courage of Lassie (1946)

Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Morgan, Tom Drake, Selena Royle, Harry Davenport, George Cleveland, Catherine McLeod, Morris Ankrum, Mitchell Lewis, Jane Green

After emoting so sincerely in "National Velvet", Elizabeth Taylor looks almost forced into this absurd scenario: Collie pup, separated from its family, raises itself in the woods before finding the love of a dedicated young lass, and then--for reasons almost indescribable--is adopted into the Army! Opening nature shots are hilariously 'wholesome': we get birds, a bunny rabbit, and a man in a boat (who yells at a bird to hold its tongue!). Lassie plays the Collie (here called Bill, and later Duke!), and it's a strenuous part even for a dog. Taylor shows the same moony-eyed strength and determination she showed as Velvet Brown, but this part is a mere whisper of her last. After appearing in 1943's "Lassie Come Home", this must've seemed like a step backwards for the young star. It's a tearjerker via the doghouse.

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