Posted by martinteller on April 23, 2012
Typical Disney sentimental muck about a family of dumb assholes who constantly put their beloved dog in mortal peril. Good job, dickheads! If you don’t want your pet to catch “hydrophoby” (just say rabies if you can’t get it right) but how about not using him to corral a bunch of wild hogs? Just a thought. Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but I couldn’t stand watching this “old yeller dog” (omg STOP saying it) get put into dangerous situations over and over again. But yes, this is the hardscrabble life of the frontier, where everyday living is a dance with death, or something. It didn’t make me any less annoyed with the family, especially the boys.
Those who know me are well aware of my low tolerance and high standards for child actors. Tommy Kirk (“Travis”) is a pouty brat but he’s nothing compared to Kevin Corcoran (“Arliss”), one of the most obnoxious little terrors I’ve seen in a long time. I really wanted him to get shot or eaten by bears or done catch hisself a mess of hydrophoby. The young girl in the film, Beverly Washburn, is actually quite good in her few brief scenes. A little more of her might have made the movie as a whole more palatable. As for the adults, Fess Parker (who I thought for sure was Gregory Peck at first) is barely in it, Jeff York is possibly even more grating than Corcoran and Dorothy McGuire is bland but not terrible. The quick appearance by Chuck Connors is all right, although I thought his character was pretty uninteresting. Hell, all the characters are uninteresting except the dog. The animal wranglers did a good job, and the best scenes are the ones without any pesky humans talking their nonsense.
At least it’s a quick-moving film, thanks to its episodic structure and short runtime. As much as I may bitch and moan, there was little about it I truly detested. But even less that I loved, or even liked. This story of a boy and his dog would be a lot better without the boy, or any of the other people (or the dreadful music, don’t even get me started). Rating: Poor