Eric Knight’s beloved 1940 novel gets a Scottish 1938 setting where impoverished nine-year-old Joe Carraclough (Jonathan Mason) is forced to sell his loyal dog Lassie to the wealthy Duke of Rudling (played impeccably by Peter O’ Toole) for the Duke’s young granddaughter Cilla (Hester Odgers). But Lassie knows who her real master is, and repeatedly escapes from the Duke to return to Joe even after the Duke moves her to the far reaches of Northern Scotland. Writer/director Charles Sturridge adapts the heart-warming story with strict attention to its modest emotional underpinnings of family, devotion, and a beautiful collie.
Rated PG. 100 mins. (B) (Three Stars)