Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1946. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Lionel Houser. Cinematography by Leonard Smith. Produced by Robert Sisk. Music by Scott Bradley, Bronislau Kaper. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Paul Youngblood. Costume Design by Irene. Film Editing by Conrad A. Nervig.
The beloved canine hero gets top billing above the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Morgan in this charming film. Pal, who appears as the female Lassie in the other films, actually appears here as a male dog named Bill, who is separated from his pack as a puppy and grows up in the wilderness of the northwest before being discovered by Taylor and raised by her to be a sheepdog. After an accident separates the loving girl from her pet, Bill finds himself recruited by the army to work the battlefield before returning home with amnesia shell shock. Beast and human are reunited, but now Bill is aggressive to people around him and is in danger of being put down, as no one seems to understand what he’s been through. It sounds corny, and for the most part it is, but the film is also sincere and sweet, ably held together by a sympathetic canine hero and the touching portrayal of affection coming from the wonderful Taylor. The message with which it concludes, encouraging the American public to be kind to veterans returning home from the war, altered forever by the horrors that they have seen, is deeply felt and poignant.