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Life is hard for Yorkshire miner's son Joe Carraclough (Jonathan Mason), who is beaten at school by a his teacher, his only consolation is his collie Lassie. It gets worse: when the mine is decommissioned, his father, Sam (John Lynch), is forced to sell the dog to The Duke (Peter O'Toole), who owns the local estate. The Duke's servant, Hynes (Steve Pemberton), scares the dog, who keeps running back, so the Carracloughs have to keep returning her, until the Duke moves to the Scottish Highlands for the holiday season. Lassie escapes, embarking on a desperate journey home, with daunting Glasgow dogcatchers and taken in by a circus performer. It looks like a miracle is needed, by Christmas.Written by
One thread that connects all of the Lassie projects is Lassie herself. Every one of the long string of Lassie productions has featured a collie directly descended from the original canine star, a dog named Pal. This new movie was made with eight-year-old Lassie the ninth, and three other non-related collies, whose biggest challenge were in scenes swimming across Loch Ness on her way home. "They weren't bred to be water dogs, who have more webbing between their feet and more fat on their body to insulate them for the water," said trainer Carol Riggins, who has steered the Lassie stable through Lassies seven, eight, and nine. "Collies don't have that. When you put them in the water, as soon as they get wet to the skin you have to take them out and you have to blow dry them before you can do the rest of the scene. When they get in the water they get cold and their muscles don't work as well." See more »
The steam train has a British Railways logo on the tender, but British Railways didn't come into existence until after the war, certainly not before or during the war, the period in which the film is set. See more »
I saw this film on August 24th, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture " explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
Obviously this is an often-told tale about a boy and his beautiful and intelligent collie. But this is an especially fine telling of that story and specifically of the loyalty and love that can happen between a boy and his dog.
The story is set in England prior to World War II. The boy, Joe, is from a working class family and the father loses his coal mining job when the coal peters out. Lassie catches the eye of a rich Duke played by Peter O'Toole and Joe's parents reluctantly sell Lassie to obtain much needed cash. This causes Joe to go into a deep sadness. But to make things worse for Joe and his parents, Lassie regularly escapes the Duke's dog handler and finds his way back to Joe. Over and over the dog is honorably returned to the Duke because a deal is a deal.
Finally the Duke goes off to his other home in Northern Scotland 500 miles away and takes Lassie with him. Lassie escapes again and the rest of the movie revolves around the impossible attempted journey back to Joe.
Lassie is obligated to steal the movie, but he doesn't quite do this. There are too many other interesting things going on. Peter O'Toole is a great curmudgeon with a slowly revealed heart of gold. The English countryside is gorgeous. And the rich class- poor class dichotomy is adroitly told.
Honor and integrity and human dignity are human traits that can be shown by anyone despite their age or sex or income or social status in life. That's a message worth communicating in a movie.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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