As a young pup in Scotland, Lassie grows to be an extraordinary sheep dog. But when her beloved master (Donald Crisp) is killed by beggars, the poor dog can only grieve at his grave.
Lassie soon falls victim to the law. Because she is without an owner, her fate is debated in an Edinburgh court. It is there her former master's friend, a tavern propertier (Edmund Gwenn) comes to Lassie's rescue, calling upon the court to spare this unusually kind and intelligent dog.
Exceedingly popular in movies and later on television, Lassie's appeal spans generations of children and adults making her America's favorite collie.
Title: Challenge to Lassie
Release: October 31, 1949
Genre: Family- Drama
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Greyfriar's Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson
Writer: William Ludwig
Director: Richard Thorpe
Music By: André Previn
Produced By: Robert Sisk
Distributed By: MGM
Run Time: 76 minutes
Author Eric Knight's faithful collie was first introduced in Lassie Come Home written in 1940. The story was soon adapted soon for MGM and Lassie became a big motion-picture star. In doing so that collie (As all of the films until 1951, Lassie is played by a male dog named Pal) became one of the most beloved animal actors in history. For the studio's sixth movie starring Lassie it was decided that Eleanor Atkinson's book Greyfriar's Bobby which was based on a true story would be perfect material.
Challenge to Lassie does show its age in a few places but for the most part it's a beautiful film. Not quite as sad as some of the other adaptations of Bobby's story as it only ended with the court's decision with what to do with a dog without an owner or a license. Maybe if I hadn't read Atkinson's book before I watched the film the fact that they replaced Bobby with Lassie wouldn't have bothered me at all. However, since I'm very familiar with the story it did annoy me at first but I soon was completely captivated by the story as they stayed very true to the book (and in some ways was even better than the book as you could actually understand what they're saying in the film!).
Lassie wasn't the only star in the film though the dog was the most famous. Kathryn Beaumont (probably most famous for being the voice of Alice in Disney's Alice in Wonderland and also Wendy in Disney's Peter Pan) plays a small uncredited role as one of the tenement children (probably meant to be Tammy from the book) too. This wasn't a highly proclaimed film, it didn't win any awards, nor was it very significant in the Lassie movie or show canon but though this collie never received a statue, it still has something in common with the character it plays: just like Bobby was belonged to everyone, Lassie did too.
Related Posts: Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson & Greyfriars Bobby (2005)
Links: Lassie Wikipedia, Movie Wikipedia, Pal's Wikipedia, Imdb.com, TCM, Lassie Web, Lassie.net, Lassie.com