Laddie is a right Lassie
There have been various reincarnations of Lassie over the years but for me the best still remains the first movie "Lassie Come Home". That doesn't mean these various other Lassie movies are bad, often just a bit weaker which is the case of the original's sequel "Son of Lassie". Whilst "Son of Lassie" carries on from the original with Joe Carraclough having grown up and heading off to war being just part of the story, the truth is that the movie is really just an excuse for more wonderful antics as we watch lassie's son Laddie go on his own series of adventures. As such it is seriously predictable and drags on a little too long before reaching what is a cloyingly cheesy ending but at the same time it is still entertaining.
Time has moved on for Joe Carraclough (Peter Lawford - Ocean's Eleven) who now as a young man is preparing to head off to fight in the war whilst also dealing with the romantic notions of Priscilla (June Lockhart - Meet Me in St. Louis) the grand daughter of the Duke of Radling (Nigel Bruce). And what has also changed is that Lassie has had a litter of pups and whilst Joe still adores Lassie now has her son Laddie who accompanies him everywhere. Having managed to get on a reconnaissance flight with Joe over Norway Joe and Laddie find themselves parachuting into enemy territory. Whist Joe struggles to make his way to safety Laddie embarks on a series of adventures as he tries to find Joe.
"Son of Lassie" is a movie of two halves although technically the first half runs for only the first 30 minutes. This first half is all about establishing Laddie in a series of fun scenes as we watch this mischievous pup grow up, bonding with Joe in the same way that Lassie did. At the same time this first half establishes the changes most significantly with everyone growing up Joe is now a dashing young man preparing to head off to fight in the war whilst Priscilla has also grown up into an attractive young woman who is in love with him. All of which works quite well and is most certainly entertaining thanks to the various mischievous antics which young Laddie gets up to.
But having established the characters and delivered the setting of war changing things, including Duke of Radling's kennels being turned into a military dog training school "Son of Lassie" does become a little far fetched. In fact it's seriously far fetched as after a couple of scenes where Laddie makes his way 40 miles to the barracks where Joe is stationed he happens to end up aboard a reconnaissance flight over Europe which leads to disaster when the plane gets hit and Joe and Laddie parachute out.
And so starts the adventures as whilst we have an element of watching Joe try and make his way to safety we mainly watch Laddie try and find Joe whilst getting into various scrapes. It does feel a bit repetitive, with various scenes feeling like a mirror image of those which occurred in "Lassie Come Home" and it most certainly drags on a lot longer than need be as the director appears unable to resist juts one more scene of Laddie doing something amazing. But at the same time it is entertaining especially with Laddie trying to escape capture by the Nazis.
Of course these adventures lead to a happy ever after ending, well you expect nothing else but it has to be said it is one of the cheesiest endings I have witnessed and spoils things slightly. But before it gets there and aside from all the well trained antics of Pal who not only plays Lassie but also Laddie this time out there are some pretty decent scenes in "Son of Lassie". There is a scene where a village comes under air attack and the effectiveness of the action and special effects are quite surprising as whilst not stunning are a lot more convincing than you would probably expect. And whilst again America and Canada pass as Britain and Norway the backdrops, the snow covered mountains and icy blue lakes are brilliant.
Whilst Donald Crisp returns as Sam Carraclough as does Nigel Bruce as Duke of Radling, with the story being set a good decade ahead of the original the characters of Joe and Priscilla have been recast and what a good job they did. Although June Lockhart as Priscilla doesn't have a great deal to do she is fun delivering the frustration of a love struck young woman especially as she plays second fiddle to Laddie. But it is Peter Lawford as Joe who dominates the movie and does a very good job, delivering that fun wholesomeness which Roddy McDowall gave Joe during the first movie and works brilliantly with the dogs. Talking of which whilst the young pup which plays Laddie in the first half is adorable you have to say that Pal who plays both Laddie and Lassie is a remarkable dog who whilst demonstrating a range of skills is also so cute and often funny.
What this all boils down to is that as a follow up to "Lassie Come Home", "Son of Lassie" works with Joe growing up and now bonding with Laddie. It is repetitive as we watch Laddie go on a series of adventures which never seem to stop but it is entertaining and with Pal on fine form playing both Lassie and Laddie you just end up falling in love with the dog all over again.
Tags: Dog Movies