Today, we turn the spotlight to man’s best friend, as we remember the cinematic canines of yesteryear. Over the years, we’ve marveled at both their heroics and their mischievous antics. So beloved was one particular dog that his on-screen demise caused generations of moviegoers to bawl their eyes out at the mere thought of the film’s closing scenes. It’s yet one of the many Oscar-worthy performances from our four-legged friends. Let’s take a look back and remember some of the greats from over the years.
First up, an icon that perhaps has no peer among movie pooches – Lassie. The lovable collie first appeared on the big screen in 1943, in the classic film, Lassie Come Home, and went on to star in numerous sequels, before beginning a very successful run on television that lasted almost 20 years. Let’s take a look at the original trailer for the film:
Long before Lassie, there was another popular canine, a very-real pup found in France by American soldiers during the final days of WWI, who they named Rin-Tin-Tin. This ever-loyal German Shepard appeared in numerous silent films in the 30s, was the star of a popular radio series for 25 years, and like Lassie, eventually moved to television (although for purposes of accuracy, the real Rin Tin Tin died in 1934. It’s his numerous offspring that continued the tradition) Here’s the original, in a film appearance from 1934:
These furry friends have always pulled at the heartstrings, but none as much as a yellow mutt named Old Yeller, star of his own 1957 Walt Disney film. Brought in as a stray, the dog soon proved to be an able protector of the Coates family, until he had a run-in with a rabid wolf. In perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching scenes ever filmed, the oldest son was forced to put their faithful companion out of his misery. If you didn’t cry during this scene, you were one of the very few among us. If you dare, grab a box of Kleenex and click the “play” button:
Take a minute to compose yourself, if need be, as we lighten the mood by moving on to the 70s to remember a rather adorable mutt named Benji. First appearing on the big screen in 1974, this heroic little hound (actually more of a terrier) won the hearts of millions of moviegoers, young and old, and his popularity spawned numerous sequels, not to mention his very own Saturday morning series, Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince. Here’s a look at this adorably memorable mutt:
Last but not least, we can’t wrap this up without remembering a rather comical St. Bernard named Beethoven, who racked up his own series of endearing, popular films in the early 90s, not to mention a cartoon series on Saturday mornings.
All right, dog lovers, it’s time for you to weigh in and tell us who is your all-time favorite canine from cinematic history. Got a favorite not listed above? No problem. Make your case in our comments section as we pay tribute to this wonderful collection of memorable mutts, here at Retroland!