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Son of Lassie

A movie directed by S. Sylvan Simon

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Son of Lassie 1945 a simply_crispy CV W/O

  • Nov 7, 2002
Pros: Good story, great scenery

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: Good family movie if families ever spend time together anymore.

I really had to dig for this one but I thought it would be fun. In fact, I thought the entire idea would be simply_crispy, as credited to our host of this write-off. [BTW, hope you got that profile page thing worked out, I was clueless – grin]

My undercover character is so remote they aren’t even in the credits, but through careful searching and general nosing around, I was able to scout this out. Then I had to find a copy of the movie, not the easiest task for a 1945 movie, and watch it, which is entirely against my nature especially at this most eerie time of year. However, on to

Son of Lassie
Directed by S. Sylvan Simon, this is one of the most picturesque movies I have seen since Sound of Music. All full of beautiful snow covered mountains that are reflected in clear mountain rivers, rolling hills covered with heather and wheat, glorious blue skies and deep green grasses. In fact, it was almost a visual overload in its glory.

As the movie begins, we find Laddie, the son of Lassie, a spirited pup that is tearing the devil out of the manors hydrangea patch. Seems Laddie has gotten all of Lassie’s beauty but few of her brains. Both Lassie and Laddie belong to Joe Carraclough (Peter Lawford) who, with his father Sam (Donald Crisp), breed and train dogs on the estate of the Duke of Radling (Nigel Bruce).

The Duke has dreams of returning to active duty to fight off the dastardly Nazi’s in the burgeoning WWII, but due to his advanced age we know this won’t be possible. However, his letter writing campaign hasn’t been for naught, the government visits his estate and enlists his aid in training dogs for tracking and fighting along side ‘the boys’.

Naturally Laddie joins in the training, but although he has grown to an adult dog he remains the playful pup he always was. At this point I’m beginning to wonder just how Laddie will play into the movie because Joe is about to leave for duty in the Royal Air Force as a fledging pilot and is more upset about leaving his darling Laddie behind than the woman that lusts after his body, the daughter of the manor Priscilla (June Lockhart).

And since Laddie failed miserably in training, we know he won’t be able to go along for ‘active duty’.

side note: from this point on if I screw up too bad just remember I know nothing about geography and even less about the military and nothing about WWII so give me a break here. end side note

Joe goes off to become a pilot, leaving the panting Priscilla [and Laddie] behind. However Laddie will have none of that and follows him by scent to his base camp, at least 50 miles away. Through the goodness of their heart [yeah, sure] the military lets him keep his pup by his side.

Joe flies off into the sky, I guess on what would be termed a spy mission, and low and behold his Captain sneaks the dog on board just for fun and games.

Ah, ha, I say, I guess I know just how Laddie is going to come into play in the movie now.

Of course, the plane is shot down and Joe has to parachute out over unfriendly grounds, with Laddie wrapped in his arms. From what I could ascertain, this was over Norway. I always thought they were a neutral country. Anyway, it is overrun with Nazi soldiers trying to find the dog and the English pilot.

Joe manages to escape capture and becomes part of the underground services where he will be smuggled out of the country and back to safe ground. However he and Laddie have become separated and he laments the fact that he has to return without his dog. Forget the fact that people are putting their lives on the line to save his sorry butt.

And Laddie, the dumb puppy that grew up to be a dumb dog, manages to sniff his way across Norway and find where his buddy has been, more than once. One time a skier finds him practically frozen stiff in the mountains just after Joe skies off to safety. That same guy is killed by the Nazi’s and his home bombed, with Laddie inside. Yet Laddie digs his way out and traipses off again after Joe, this time finding his scent at a POW camp.

You pretty much get the drift of the story here, don’t you? Joe is constantly in peril and Laddie is always a day late and a dollar short.

The Cliffhanger
Will Joe make it home? Will Laddie be reunited with his master? Will Priscilla get her ashes hauled? Will Lassie have another breed of puppies? Or are we going to be treated to a similar case as in Turner & Hooch where the dog dies but breeds a slew of equally evil pups in its wake?

I’m certainly not going to tell you!

Accolades please
Writing credits go to Jeanne Bartlett for the story and Eric Knight for the characters. Filming was done at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada and is truly spectacular.

Surprisingly the acting is not as campy and overdone as you sometimes find in older movies. For the most part it appears that the characters are just talking among each other like real conversation. I have seen some older movies where it appears each person stands and waits their turn to speak, very wooden with no flow at all.

Peter Lawford and June Lockhart were just so darn cute in the movie, both fairly young and perky. Nigle Bruce remains staid and pompous as always and Donald Crisp was, why, simply_crispy!

And the mystery guest is ………
Her father is director S. Sylvan Simon, who produced and directed over 40 films [until his death in 1951], including this one.

Her stepfather is producer Armand Deutsch, who had a run of about a dozen movies in the 40’s & 50’s.

Her brother is producer Stephen Deutsch, who brought us many films and most recently What Dreams May Come. He is sometimes known as Stephen Simon.

She is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a member of On-Line Film Critics Society. Her part in the movie, as I said, went uncredited – no nepotism here – and she was simply known as the girl that hides Laddie in the wheelbarrow of logs, even though it was a fairly large speaking part.

She played the part of Jenny in the 1948 A Southern Yankee; uncredited girl in 1948 Fuller Brush Man; uncredited girl in 1947 Her Husband’s Affairs; and the girl in 1946 The Cockeyed Miracle.

She is sometimes known as Susan Simon and sometimes as Susan Stevens, but we know her as:


Write-off spiff
Here is the list of the people that have decided to help crispy celebrate his first ever write-off [go crispy, go crispy, go crispy]. If he can just get rid of that damn clock now …….. grin …….

arjita, artbyjude, BigJack, brodieman, d_fienberg, jankp, Lynus, Macresarf1, mfunk75, MrsNormanMaine, Simply_Crispy (host), skbreese, susidee34, tjmackey, Vormancian, Weirdo_87, xxxxer

I have forgotten what the idea of the write-off was other than to find a character with a part – any kind of part – that has moved on to greater glory. What could be greater glory than Epinions? Seriously, why not tip your hat to the star in our little group and honor the fact that she has continued the family tradition in the film world, although she has not continued her own film work.


p.s. the film was really good for an older movie but I doubt if many would sit still for it today. Not enough action, no CGI, no FX, no sex – why it is almost a Disney film. But I liked it and now I own it.


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


Joe Carraclough has gone off to RAF training school, leaving behind his beloved Lassie and her pup, Laddie. Ever faithful, Laddie follows Joe to the Academy and stows away on his plane, just as they embark on a dangerous mission. Shot down over enemy territory, the two must now depend on each other for survival.
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Cast: Nils Asther
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Release Date: 1945
MPAA Rating: G
DVD Release Date: Warner Home Video (August 24, 2004)
Runtime: 1hr 40min
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