The magnificent seven: the original Pal films

Since Lassie first leapt onto the big screen in 1943, there have been 11 films total. Of those, seven featured Pal, the original male rough collie who defined the role for future generations. For your education and our nostalgia, we’ve arranged a retrospective of those seven films.

1) Lassie Come Home

Year: 1943

Director: Fred M. Wilcox

Writer: Hugo Butler from a story by Eric Knight

Plot: In Yorkshire, England during the Depression, the Carraclough family, including young Joe, must resort to selling their collie Lassie to the Duke of Rudling. Lassie continuously escapes, however, until the Duke brings her to his home in Scotland. Luckily, the Duke’s granddaughter Priscilla helps Lassie to escape and begin her long journey back home.

2) Son of Lassie

Year: 1945

Director: S. Sylvan Simon

Writer: Jeanne Bartlett

Plot: Joe is now a pilot in the Royal Air Force, but unbeknownst to him, Lassie’s son Laddie (played by Pal) has stowed away on his plane. The pair are shot down over Norway and again begin a journey home—only this time, the two of them are behind enemy lines and continuously dogged (pardon me) by Nazi forces.

3) Courage of Lassie

Year: 1946

Director: Fred M. Wilcox

Writer: Lionel Houser

Plot: This film was unrelated to those that had come before it, and instead focuses on Kathie Merrick (played by a young Elizabeth Taylor), who finds an injured collie that has grown up alone in the woods. Although the dog is played by Lassie, Merrick names him Bill. The pair are later separated, and Bill is sent to a War Dog Training Center and thrust into the heat of battle. After the war, though, Bill succumbs to fits of rage and violence and attempts to return to Kathie—and the dog he once was.

4) Hills of Home

Year: 1948

Director: Fred M. Wilcox

Writer: William Ludwig

Plot: A Scottish doctor named William MacLure adopts a rough collie, this time once again named Lassie. However, he discovers that the dog is terrified of water, and attempts various unsuccessful treatments to cure her of her phobia. Ultimately, Lassie comes through when MacLure is thrown into a rushing river.

5) The Sun Comes Up

Year: 1949

Director: Richard Thorpe

Writer: William Ludwig & Margaret Fitts from a story by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Plot: The first Lassie film set in America, The Sun Comes Up focuses on a retired opera singer who moves to Georgia with her dog Lassie. There, she meets an orphan named Jerry but tries to avoid getting too close. This leads to Jerry falling into a river. While he recovers from his pneumonia, his orphanage catches on fire, and Lassie races to the rescue.

6) Challenge to Lassie

Year: 1950

Director: Richard Thorpe

Writer: William Ludwig from a story by Eleanor Atkinson

Plot: This film returns to Scotland and dials back the timeline to 1860. It’s also based on a non-Lassie book, Greyfriars Bobby, which was based on a true story. Lassie is raised by a man named Jock Gray, who is then killed by robbers. Lassie watches over his grave and refuses to be taken in by any other owners, which brings her into conflict with other members of the community.

7) The Painted Hills

Year: 1951

Director: Harold F. Kress

Writer: True Boardman from a story by Alexander Hull

Plot: Lassie plays a collie named Shep who accompanies his prospector master while digging for gold in the California hills. When Shep’s master is killed (Lassie just can’t seem to catch a break), Shep seeks revenge on the evildoers.

Posted on Nov 17, 2010 in | Comments Off