January is Walk your Dog Month, and what better way to relax after taking your canine companion for “walkies,” than by sitting down next to a roaring fire for a film starring our favourite four-legged friends?
Here’s your rundown of five film classics.
1. Lassie Come Home (1943)
English author Eric Knight introduced readers to rough collie, Lassie, in a 1938 short story. His 1940 novel Lassie Come Home was brought to the silver screen in 1943.
The film starred Pal in the title role, a canine actor trained by American Rudd Weatherwax. The trainer would go on to co-produce the long-running series set in the US.
Lassie Come Home, however, sticks to the novel’s Yorkshire setting. It follows young Joe Barraclough (Roddy McDowall) and the bond he has with his dog, Lassie.
When Lassie is sold to the Duke of Rudling, the Duke’s niece, Priscilla (played by a young Elizabeth Taylor) senses the dog’s unhappiness and plans Lassie’s escape.
Our hero begins the long trek from Scotland back to Joe’s Yorkshire home, in this timeless classic for all the family.
2. All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989)
All Dogs Go To Heaven is a 1989 animated film from the American-Irish studio behind An American Tail and The Land Before Time.
The story follows Charlie B. Barkin (voiced by Burt Reynolds), a riverboat casino owner in New Orleans who is killed by his former friend, Carface.
Despite Charlie’s occasionally scheming ways, he is sent to heaven where a whippet angel informs him that because of their inherent goodness and loyalty, all dogs go to heaven.
Charlie gives up his place, however, and returns to earth in search of revenge on Carface. Instead, he befriends an orphan girl named Anne-Marie and learns some important truths.
3. Beethoven (1992)
This US family comedy was directed by Brian Levant and written by John Hughes.
When a litter of puppies are stolen from a pet store, a St. Bernard escapes and seeks refuge in the family home of the Newtons. George Newton doesn’t want to keep the dog but relents when his wife and three children badger him.
As the puppy – named “Beethoven” after it barks along to the composer’s ‘Fifth Symphony’ – grows up, it becomes part of the family, helping the children through their adolescence and even saving young Emily’s life when she falls into a swimming pool while unattended.
But when Beethoven ruins a barbecue being hosted for two local businesspeople, George has had enough. He unknowingly takes Beethoven to an unscrupulous vet involved in animal experiments. Now, George must fight for Beethoven’s life, and to keep his family together.
4. Red Dog (2011)
From the novel of the same name by English novelist Louis de Bernières (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), Red Dog is an Australian comedy-drama based on a true story.
When a man arrives in the Western Australian town of Dampier with a statue of the town’s founder, he learns the story of one of the town’s most beloved inhabitants.
Arriving in the mining town in the early 1970s, Red Dog befriends the locals but remains ownerless until an American bus driver becomes his master.
When tragedy strikes, Red Dog sets off an incredible journey across Australia’s North West, even catching a ship to Japan, before eventually arriving home.
Could Red Dog be the town’s true hero?
5. Isle of Dogs (2018)
Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animation, science-fiction comedy written and directed by cinematic auteur Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel).
After a canine flu sees the mayor of Megasaki banish all dogs to Trash Island, his nephew Atari sets off to find his beloved Spots.
Set 20 years in the future, the dogs of Trash Island (now known as the “Isle of Dogs”) can understand humans – though none of the Japanese dialogue spoken by humans throughout the film is translated.
Atari meets a group of dogs who sympathise with his mission and agree to help him. Meanwhile, in Megasaki, Professor Watanabe finally develops a cure for canine influenza. But will Major Kobayashi want to listen?
The all-star cast includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono, and Harvey Keitel.