As a dog-walker, pet-sitter, and pet parent myself, I take more than a small interest in canines – in real life or on camera. From Rin-Tin-Tin, to Lassie, to Bear the crime fighting dog on Person of Interest, man’s best friend has always shone in Hollywood. Here are some of the best examples to make it to the silver screen.
Old Yeller (1957) This coming of age Disney drama was based on the Newberry award winning novel of the same name. In 1860’s post-Civil War Texas, Travis and Arliss befriend a lovable mutt they name “Old Yeller,” for his coloring. They have a series of adventures and Yeller saves the boys multiple times whilst becoming a beloved member of the family. But sadly, there’s that darn hydrophobia (aka rabies) out there… Warning this is generally considered one of the biggest tear-jerker films of all time, so stock up on Kleenex.
101 Dalmations (1961) We all know the story. When their puppies are kidnapped by the evil Cruella De Vil (one of the most memorable and iconic villains of all time) Dalmatian couple Pongo and Perdita set out to find them. Along the way they rescue over 84 other additional puppies as well. Hence the title. This animated adventure from Disney based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmations by Dodie Smith was an instant classic. It was reissued in theatres four times in 1969, 1979,1985, and 1991 as well as being made into a live action remake in 1996.
Best in Show (2000) This mockumentary follows five entrants into a snooty dog show and the bizarre antics that follow. The antics in question are actually all on the part of the dog owners and human handlers – the dogs themselves are a lot more level-headed. The legendary Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman) starred, directed and co-wrote this hysterically funny comedy with Eugene Levy (Splash, American Pie), who starred as well. The cast is a plethora of comedic riches with mesmerizing turns by Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, and Catherine O’Hara.
My Dog Skip (2000) Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name. In the 1940s,Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle and Agent Cody Banks) is a lonely nine year-old with a veteran father (Kevin Bacon) and extroverted mom (Diane Lane). The latter decides against the wishes of the former to give Willie a Jack Russell Terrier for his birthday. Willie names the dog Skip and he quickly becomes the best and most important friend of Willie’s childhood.
Eight Below (2006) Professor McClaren (Bruce Greenwood of Double Jeopardy and Star Trek) travels to a remote Antarctic base in search of a meteorite. Local guide Jerry (the late Paul Walker of The Fast and the Furious franchise) decides the only way to make the trip is via dog sled. McClaren gets his meteorite, but is injured in the process and Jerry’s sled dogs rescue him. Back at base, the humans are evacuated due to an incoming storm, but the dogs are left behind – and then the humans can’t come back. Which leaves eight beautiful, brave, and smart Huskies abandoned to survive by themselves for months on end in the harshest environment on earth. Thank god they are, after all, Huskies. Loosely based on true events that happened to an ill-fated Japanese expedition to the Antarctica, it received good reviews and was a box office hit.
Top photo from Bigstock
Winnie’s book, The Dog-Walking Diaries – A Year in the Life of an Autistic Dog-Walker, can be bought for the dog lover in your life by clicking here to purchase on Amazon.