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Film / A Boy and His Dog (1946)

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A Boy and His Dog is a 1946 short film (21 minutes) directed by LeRoy Prinz.

This two-reel Technicolor short is based on the short story "The Trial in Tom Belcher's Store". Davy Allen is an 11-year-old boy somewhere in what appears to be rural Appalachia. He takes great pity on Buck, a Bluetick Coonhound owned by their mean old neighbor down the road, Mr. Thornycroft. Mr. Thornycroft has restricted Buck by chaining him to a heavy old wagon wheel, and either has not noticed or does not care that Buck's neck has been rubbed raw and bloody by the chain.

One day Davy is walking by Mr. Thornycroft's house when Buck leaps to greet him at the fence, despite being chained to the wheel. The wheel gets caught up in the fence, leaving Buck hanging. When Davy frees Buck by unhooking the chain, the dog follows him. Davy then decides to pretend that the dog is his.

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No relation to dystopic science fiction novel A Boy and His Dog or the film based on that novel.


Tropes:

  • As You Know: A lot of this in the early going to establish the premise. The film tells the audience that Davy's father is dead by having Squire Kirby tell Davy that "Now that your pa's passed away you're her mainstay of support."
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Mr. Thornycroft abuses his dog by leaving Buck chained to a wagon wheel until Buck's neck is raw and bloody. In the end that's how Squire Kirby forces Thornycroft to give the dog to Davy, by threatening to jail him for cruelty to animals if he doesn't.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Davy is barefoot throughout the film. It turns out that his father is dead and he and his mom are living a precarious existence. When Buck helps Davy catch a couple of rabbits, it's an important addition to the family's food supply.
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  • A Boy and His X: Why yes! Davy and Buck have a fine old time hunting in the woods and doing other boy-and-his-dog activities, until mean old Mr. Thornycroft finds out about the dog and threatens to ruin everything.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The first shot of the movie is a shot of Davy's feet, here emphasizing the Barefoot Poverty of rural Appalachia.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with Davy and Buck walking away down a dirt road, together again.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Squire Kirby, the judge. He uses a rather dubious definition of a dog as an "individual" with agency to acquit Davy of theft, then forces Thornycroft to hand over the dog he's been abusing to avoid jail for cruelty to animals.

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