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Adventures of Rusty

Adventures of Rusty(1945)

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teaser Adventures of Rusty (1945)

Films starring 'man's best friend' have been around since the movies began and as early as 1905, director and actor Cecil Hepworth starred his dog Rover as the hero who saves the family baby from a gypsy in Rescued by Rover. It was so successful that Hepworth was forced to reshoot it several times because the negative wore out. Later in the silent era, Rin-Tin-Tin, a dark-coated German shepherd rescued from the battlefields of World War I France, was brought to Hollywood and became the most popular film animal of his time until his death at the age of 16 in 1932 (he died with his head cradled in the lap of his neighbor Jean Harlow). In 1943, MGM adapted Eric Knight's novel into the 'Lassie' films. These were considered 'A' films and MGM budgeted them accordingly. Their success directly resulted in Columbia Pictures cashing in on the craze with a 'B' movie about a boy and his dog called The Adventures of Rusty (1945).

Rusty (played by Ace the Wonder Dog) was not a sweet English collie like Lassie, but a German shepherd who was formerly trained to be a Nazi police dog. Rusty is brought to the United States by a returning vet and believed to be dangerous, but a young boy named Danny Mitchell (Ted Donaldson) is determined to retrain him with love so he will be a safe family pet.

The Adventures of Rusty was filmed while World War II was ending in Europe and was released on September 6, 1945, only weeks after the Japanese surrender and the end of the war. The film, to the surprise of the studio, turned out to be popular enough to warrant sequels and Columbia rushed them into production. By then, Ace was working on what would be his last film, God's Country (1946) and did not return for the sequels. He had appeared in films since 1938 in which he often had an important role. He appeared in another 'boy and his dog' film called Orphans of the Street (1938) with Tommy Ryan, 'starred' as a dog wrongly accused of murder in Almost a Gentleman (1939), and helped clear an innocent man of robbery in The Rookie Cop (1939). By 1946 he was getting too old to continue working however and would be replaced in the sequels by another German shepherd named Flame.

Twelve-year-old Ted Donaldson had been appearing on radio since the age of four but had only appeared in four movies before he was cast as Danny Mitchell in The Adventures of Rusty. The year before he had co-starred as Peggy Ann Garner's little brother Neeley Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and the success of that film gave him wider exposure. Donaldson would be the only cast member from The Adventures of Rusty to star in all of the sequels. He left films after Phone Call from a Stranger in 1952. Most recently Donaldson appeared at the Hollywood Collector's Show in Los Angeles in February 2007.

Producer: Rudolph C. Flothow
Director: Paul Burnford
Screenplay: Al Martin (story), Aubrey Wisberg
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Film Editing: Reginald Browne
Art Direction:
Music: Marlin Skiles
Cast: Ted Donaldson (Danny Mitchell), Margaret Lindsay (Ann Mitchell), Conrad Nagel (Hugh Mitchell), Gloria Holden (Louise Hover), Robert Williams (Will Nelson), Addison Richards (Dr. Banning).
BW-67m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:

The All Movie Guide
The Internet Movie Database

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