Lassie Come Home (1943)

“I know something about this dog. She’s going somewhere — she’s on her way.”

Synopsis:
The son (Roddy McDowall) of an out-of-work Yorkshireman (Donald Crisp) and his wife (Elsa Lanchester) is heartbroken to learn that they’ve sold his beloved collie, Lassie (Pal), to a Scottish duke (Nigel Bruce). Fortunately, Bruce’s kind-hearted granddaughter (Elizabeth Taylor) helps set Lassie free, and the intrepid dog makes her way back home to Yorkshire via a long and arduous journey.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “classic family film” — a “classy, colorful MGM production” — is “sentimental but not as gushy as one might imagine”. He accurately notes that it “boasts an outstanding human cast” (including Dame May Whitty, Elsa Lanchester, and Donald Crisp) and that “of course, Lassie” (actually played by a male dog named Pal) “is a remarkable talent”. He points out how refreshing it is that “Lassie is portrayed here as a very smart dog, rather than as the genius of the television show”; indeed, given how often we hear stories of pets enduring unimaginable hardships to make their way back home, it’s not that difficult to swallow Lassie’s adventures as somewhat realistic. McDowall is excellent in the critical role as Lassie’s beloved “Joe”, and “pretty little Elizabeth Taylor, who still sported an English accent” is surprisingly charismatic in a bit part as the dog-loving girl who supports Lassie’s quest to “come home”. While the human storyline wraps up far too conveniently for its own good (you’ll be groaning at the final reel), Lassie Come Home remains an enjoyable family flick, one which film fanatics should check out simply for its historical relevance as the “grand-daddy” of all beloved canine movies.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine performances throughout



  • Oscar-nominated Technicolor cinematography
  • A heart-warming, well-crafted family tale

Must See?
Yes, as a “family friendly” classic (though thankfully, Peary doesn’t list any of the sequels in his book; this first entry is sufficient).

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One Response to “Lassie Come Home (1943)”

  1. First viewing. A once-must only for ffs who are rearing budding ffs of their own. This isn’t likely to be something that grown film fanatics will seek out – though the ones who are particularly fond of classic American/British cinema will no doubt get enjoyment out of seeing the dependable pros in the supporting cast.

    I would agree that this film is “sentimental but not as gushy as one might imagine”. I would also agree that, in the last moments, the sentiment *is* poured on a bit thick. (I imagine the producer had something to say about that, perhaps.)

    If ever there was a story about ‘a boy and his dog’ in its simplest terms, this is it.

    Viewers may be surprised to learn that director Fred M. Wilcox would go on to direct ‘Forbidden Planet’ a number of years later.

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