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DVD Review

Lassie Box Set


Starring: Roddy McDowall, Elizabeth Taylor, Nigel Bruce, Donald Crisp, Peter Lawford and June Lockhart
Warner Home Video
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: U
Available 02 June 2008

The devoted collie escapes kennel captivity, with help from a young Elizabeth Taylor and braves storms and peril to return home to Roddy McDowall in Lassie Come Home. Courage runs in the family in Son Of Lassie, as Lassie’s progeny stows away on a World War II Allied bombing run piloted by RAF airman Peter Lawford, and finally, more Wartime heroics and another performance from Elizabeth Taylor in Courage Of Lassie...

The Lassie Box Set contains three classic 1940 Lassie movies for the bargain price of £16.

Lassie Come Home (1943). Roddy McDowall stars as Joe Carraclough. Sadly the Carraclough family are down on their luck and are forced to sell the beloved family dog to the wealthy Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce). However, Lassie is unwilling to leave young Joe and, assisted by the Duke’s tenderhearted granddaughter Priscilla (Elizabeth Taylor), she sets out on the long and dangerous journey to rejoin him.

This is by far the best in the Lassie movie in this collection. And shows Lassie's constant struggle to get back to his young master - first from the kennels he's sold too, and then all the way from Scotland back to Yorkshire.

Extras on this disc include Fala - The President's Dog (7 min, 42 sec short that follows the life of President Roosevelt's dog - from the dog's point of view); Lassie Trailer Gallery (several Lassie trailers - the Lassie Come Home trailer is basically the entire plot to the movie told in under two minutes).

Son Of Lassie (1945). Joe Carraclough has grown into adulthood as a World War II RAF airman, and Lassie's son Laddie is so devoted to him that he secretly stows away on the plane when Joe leaves on a bombing run. When the plane is shot out of the sky over enemy-occupied Norway, Joe and Laddie parachute from the burning aircraft and begin their wartime adventures. Peter Lawford and June Lockhart (long-time star of TV's Lassie) are Joe and Priscilla, parts previously played by Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor. Donald Crisp and Nigel Bruce return as savvy dog trainers.

Another entertaining, if somewhat predictable, kid's movie. This sees Laddie heading off to war - or rather running away from it, as his owner tries to get back behind his own lines.

Extras on the disc include Flirty Birdy (7 min, 18 sec Tom and Jerry cartoon) and the Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 06 sec).

Courage Of Lassie (1946). After being abandoned in the North woods as a pup, Bill is accidentally shot, but is found and rescued by Kathie Merrick (Elizabeth Taylor) who nurses him back to health and decides to adopt him. A tragic accident causes Bill to be separated from Kathie, and he’s sent away to serve in the Philippines as a war dog. Somehow making it back home, his wartime experiences change Bill into a battle-scarred veteran whose killing spree leads to a ‘dangerous dog’ accusation and the real possibility of facing the death sentence for his crimes.

This movie attempts to use the basic plots of the first two movies and create a new film. So, we have Bill helping a squadron in the war, as well as him having to travel miles to get back to his owner. There's a little too much wildlife footage at the start of the movie. And, while it's well shot, it feels a little to much like filler material to pad the film out.

Extras include Northwest Hounded Police (7 min, 29 sec cartoon), Tom and Jerry in Solid Serenage (7 min, 24 sec Tom and Jerry cartoon), Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 09 sec) and Children's Matinee Trailer (1 min, 08 sec).

While the price is cheap, this is obviously only a collection that will appeal to the very young, or those that remember the movies from their original release. But, if you fit into this category, then you'll love these films.

It's also interesting to note how much effort Warner Home Video has spent in getting the original cartoons and trailers that were shown in cinemas at the time.


Nick Smithson

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