Lassie Come Home

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For the original Eric Knight novel, see Lassie Come-Home.
Lassie Come Home
Lassie Come Home, Original Theatrical Poster.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Samuel Marx
Dore Schary
Screenplay by Hugo Butler
Based on Lassie Come-Home
1940 novel 
by Eric Knight
Starring Pal (credited as "Lassie")
Roddy McDowall
Donald Crisp
Dame May Whitty
Edmund Gwenn
Nigel Bruce
Elsa Lanchester
Elizabeth Taylor
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Edited by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • October 7, 1943 (1943-10-07)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $666,000[1]
Box office $4,517,000[2][1]

Lassie Come Home is a 1943 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor feature film starring Roddy McDowall and canine actor, Pal, in a story about the profound bond between Yorkshire boy Joe Carraclough and his rough collie, Lassie.[3] The film was directed by Fred M. Wilcox from a screenplay by Hugo Butler based upon the 1940 novel Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight. The film was the first in a series of seven MGM films starring "Lassie."

The original film saw a sequel, Son of Lassie in 1945 with five other films following at intervals through the 1940s. A British remake of the 1943 movie was released in 2005 as Lassie to moderate success. The film has been released to VHS and DVD.


Set in Depression-era Yorkshire, England, Mr. and Mrs. Carraclough (Donald Crisp and Elsa Lanchester) are hit by hard times and forced to sell their collie, Lassie (Pal), to the rich Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce), who has always admired her. Young Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowall) grows despondent at the loss of his companion.

Lassie will have nothing to do with the Duke, however, and finds ways to escape her kennels and return to Joe. The Duke finally carries Lassie to his home hundreds of miles distant in Scotland. There, his granddaughter Priscilla (Elizabeth Taylor) senses the dog's unhappiness and arranges her escape.

Lassie then sets off for a long trek to her Yorkshire home. She faces many perils along the way, dog catchers and a violent storm, but also meets kind people who offer her aid and comfort. At the end, when Joe has given up hope of ever seeing his dog again, the weary Lassie returns to her favorite resting place in the schoolyard at home. There, Lassie is joyfully reunited with the boy she loves.

Main cast[edit]


The film was shot in Washington state and Monterey, California, while the rapids scene was shot on the San Joaquin River.[4]

During the film's production, MGM executives previewing the dailies were said to be so moved that they ordered more scenes to be added to "this wonderful motion picture."[5]

Some sources say that, initially, a female collie was selected for the title role, but was replaced when the dog began to shed excessively during shooting of the film in the summer.[6] The trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, then substituted the male collie, Pal, in the role of "Lassie". Pal had been hired to perform the rapids stunt and, being male, looked more impressive in the part.[7] Still other accounts, such as a 1943 New York Times article written while the film was in production, say that Pal was cast by director Fred Wilcox after first being rejected, because no other dog performed satisfactorily with the "near human attributes" he sought for the canine title role.[8] Weatherwax would later receive all rights to the Lassie name and trademark in lieu of back pay owed him by MGM.[9]


The movie was a big hit. According to MGM records it earned $2,613,000 in the US and Canada and $1,904,000 overseas, resulting in a profit of $2,249,000.[1][2]

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color and later the character of Lassie received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6368 Hollywood Blvd. In 1993, Lassie Come Home was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Bosley Crowther in The New York Times of October 8, 1943 uniformly praised the performers and production, noting that the film "tells the story of a boy and a dog, tells it with such poignance and simple beauty that only the hardest heart can fail to be moved."[10]

Almost 50 years after the film's release, Parade discussed its lasting cultural impact, quoting the Saturday Evening Post which said the film launched Pal on "the most spectacular canine career in film history". Lassie Come Home was also cited as a cultural icon in Jane and Michael Stern's 1992 book, Encyclopedia of Pop Culture.[6]

"Lasso Come Home", an episode of Sheriff Callie's Wild West, resembles the title.


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ a b Eyman, Scott. Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005, p. 355.
  3. ^ Variety film review; August 18, 1943, page 10.
  4. ^ Thomas, Tony (1990), The Films of the Forties, ISBN 0863694020 
  5. ^ "Lassie (History timeline)". Classic Media. 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  6. ^ a b "Lassie a 'Lass-he'", Parade magazine, 18 October 1992, p. 22.
  7. ^ Goodspeed, Diane, Happy tails across New Jersey, p. 126 
  8. ^ "Profile of a Collie" (PDF). The New York Times. February 28, 1943. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  9. ^ Collins, Ace. Lassie: A Dog's Life. Penguin Books.
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley (8 October 1943). "MOVIE REVIEW: Lassie Come Home (1943): Lassie Come Home,' Drama of a Dog, at Music Hall -- 'Sherlock Holmes Faces Death' Seen at the Palace". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2008. 

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