Dogs . . . there’s just something about them that people love. They’re so cute, loyal, and trusting. And our love of these animals goes far beyond just having them as pets . . . no, we see a need to make movie stars out of dogs, and the public’s embrace of dog movies has led to many canines gracing the silver screen over the years. “Marley & Me,” which opened Christmas day, is only the most recent of many, many dog movies. Here’s a list of some of the most notable ones.
Rin Tin Tin (1923)
According to Wikipedia, Rin Tin Tin is actually a name given to several German Shepherd dogs–all related–which starred in various films and TV shows, the first film being 1923’s “Where the North Begins.” However, the original Rin Tin Tin was found in France by U.S. serviceman Lee Duncan during World War I. Dogs descended from the original Rin Tin Tin have starred in a variety of different projects.
The lovable collie Lassie has been around since the 1930s in print, on the radio, on TV, and in movies. Lassie is often portrayed as a heroic dog and, apparently, the only dog in the world whose barking can be effortlessly understood by any human ear–hence the often made fun of Lassie moments wherein the collie barks urgently at an adult only to have them respond, “What’s that, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well! Lead the way!” or some such thing.
Still, Lassie captivates audiences to this day, most recently in a 2005 British film called “Lassie.” It’s basically a remake of the original 1943 movie “Lassie Come Home” (which was based on a short story by Eric Knight of the same name).
Old Yeller (1957)
Old Yeller has the unique honor of being perhaps one of the saddest movies of all time – only Bambi surpasses it in pure sorrowfulness.
Like Lassie, Old Yeller was originally conceived as a book, written in 1956, by Fred Gipson. Disney adapted it in 1957. The movie explores the lives of the Coates, a family of settlers. They take in a stray dog that visits him and make him their own, but . . . and I should insert a “spoiler alert” here . . . Old Yeller tragically contracts rabies after defending the family from a wolf, and young Travis Coates is forced to shoot him.
Beethoven is the only film that I know of starring a saint bernard. The film came out in 1991 and starred Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt as the parents in a family that adopted the saint bernard puppy when it came to their home and name it Beethoven after the famous composer. The dog becomes a member of the family, but when a crooked veterinarian tries to kidnap Beethoven, the family tries to stop him.
The first movie has been followed up by four sequels, and a fifth movie is coming out in 2008 called “Beethoven’s Big Break.”
Air Bud (1997)
The original Airbud movie was about a dog named Buddy that played basketball. He accomplished this by hitting the ball with his nose into the basket after the ball was tossed in front of him. The first movie, which was released in 1997, grossed $24 million dollars. The original movie spawned several sequels, including “Air Bud: World Pup,” and “Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch.”
Marley & Me (2008)
“Marley & Me” opened on Christmas day 2008 and is based on the autobiographical book by John Grogan. It’s basically about the life of Grogan’s dog Marley, from youth to old age, and the effect that the misbehaving pup has on Grogan’s entire family. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston portray John and Jenny Grogan respectively, who are both journalists.