Lassie the Film

Collie breeds and breeding


Lassie shares a lineage with a breed of herding dogs that date back centuries. The Collie Club of America was formed in 1886, and even then the origins of the breed were shrouded in mystery. The name may derive from the Gaelic or Irish terms for “doggie”—càilean and cóilean. Other suggestions are that it comes from “coal” or the word “colley”—a Sottish black-faced mountain sheep. Today, collies are bred for either the traditional herding profession or for shows and domestic environments. (more…)

Posted on Oct 1, 2010 in History | Comments Off

Turn your dog into a star

Okay, so the role of Lassie might be currently taken, but there’s always space for another star at the top, right? If you’re interested in turning your furry friend into a star, you’ll need to focus on dog training first. And if you have no idea how to go about doing that, well—you’ve come to the right place.

First, you’ll need to build up confidence in the animal, especially if it’s shy. To do this, find out what is setting the animal off—for example, people, cars, or other dogs—and then slowly expose him to it. Be careful if other living things are involved, and make sure your dog’s leash is secure, but not so tight that he feels trapped—this can quickly instigate a fight. (more…)

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in Training | Comments Off

The history of Lassie

Some stories just reverberate throughout history and become an integral part of one’s childhood. For millions of people of all generations, the story of Lassie the collie is just that. But where did it all begin, and how has it managed to keep its staying power for all this time?

Lassie began as an idea in the head of author Eric Knight, an Englishman who served in the Canadian and American armies, and also worked as a newspaper reporter and film writer. Based on the collies Knight raised with his wife Jere Knight, Lassie first appeared in the 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home. The novel proved so popular that a film version was made in 1943, in which the male dog Pal played the female Lassie—a gender-bending role that he would reprise in six more films and two television pilots. (more…)

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in History | Comments Off

Rebel with four paws: the story of Pal

In some cases, stars aren’t born—they’re made, and the training can be quite difficult indeed. Such was the case with Pal, a male Rough Collie born in 1940 who was judged lower-quality thanks to his big eyes and white forehead. Rudd Weatherwax, an animal trainer and later Pal’s agent, began working with him at the age of 8-months, when Pal was going through a period of intense barking and motorcycle-chasing. Although the barking was cured, the chasing remained, and Pal’s then-owner gave him to Weatherwax in disappointment.

Pal was originally rejected for the role, with it being given to a female show collie instead. However, that dog refused to perform during filming in the San Joaquin River. Pal was there to demonstrate his willingness, and impressed the director so much that he had tears in his eyes. The female was released from her contract, and Pal’s career had begun. (more…)

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in Actors | Comments Off

Latest Lassie film wows critics, fails to find viewers


The only reason can be that audiences were too caught up in the stresses of their own lives to have time for nostalgia. How else can you explain the failure of the 2006 film Lassie? Despite great reviews and a leading role by Peter O’Toole, viewers just didn’t turn out for the 11th film in the franchise. At the time, I was just about to graduate high school, and though I don’t even remember seeing trailers for it, I’m sure it wouldn’t have appealed to my teenage sense of cool at the time—which is a shame.

One could also wonder whether the franchise had just worn itself out. However, this film was a direct updating of both the original movie and novel, meaning it was bringing to life a story that few people were familiar with in detail. (more…)

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in Films | Comments Off

Famous dogs throughout history

While Lassie is one of the most recognizable canine stars of the last century, she’s got plenty of company. Here are some dogs that have warmed our hearts, tickled our funny-bones, and in some cases, scared us silly.

Buck from The Call of the Wild: Jack London’s 1903 novel follows the adventures of a dog named Buck who returns to a more savage nature after serving as a sled dog during the Gold Rush. Through the novel, Buck symbolizes both the strong pull of the nature and the equally powerful connection of loyalty.
Cerberus from Greek mythology: Cerberus guarded the gates of Hades and was related to other early animal stars like the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, and the Sphinx. While he’s usually portrayed as having three heads, some authors portrayed him with as many as fifty. (more…)
Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in Famous Dogs | Comments Off