Courage of Lassie (1946)    1 Stars

“As Refreshing As A Breath Of Spring!”

Courage of Lassie (1946)
Courage of Lassie (1946)


Director: Fred M. Wilcox

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Morgan, Tom Drake

Synopsis: Teen Kathie Eleanor Merrick finds a dog in the woods, takes him home and dubs him “Bill.” But after Bill is injured and goes missing, he is shipped from hospital to military training center to Europe, where he aids the Americans during World War II







Courage of Lassie starts off resembling one of those old wildlife episodes of ‘Wonderful World of Disney’ as we watch cute puppy Lassie – otherwise known as Bill, for some reason – gambolling playfully around beautiful Canadian locations, and enjoying light-hearted scrapes with assorted wildlife. It’s only when she’s saved from mercy-killing by a young Elizabeth Taylor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Reflections in a Golden Eye) after being accidentally shot by a couple of young hunters that things start moving.

It’s always a little disconcerting to see a young Taylor at work, and to be presented with the indisputable fact that her range and skill as an actress improved not one iota throughout her acting career: she was a poor actress as a child and just as woeful as an adult. Lassie steals every scene they share, even when she’s doing nothing. The sickly-sweet sincerity and relentless sentimentality are also pretty difficult to take during this period of the film; only when Lassie is run over by a truck while attempting to escape Taylor’s acting do things improve.

Drafted into the army, Lassie saves a surrounded unit at the cost of her mental stability – a curiously effective performance here by Lassie as she flawlessly mimics mental and physical exhaustion – and then, by a series of unlikely circumstances, returns to her old stamping-ground as a mad-dog chicken killer.

While Courage of Lassie is not quite up to the standard of the original MGM movies in the series, it is still a well-crafted, beautifully shot and occasionally suspenseful flick that will please lovers of this genre and offers an unusual insight into the plight of shell-shocked veterans returning home after WWII.

(Reviewed 4th July 2002)

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