Return to the movies!

Another movie, another dog! Correction: another world-famous dog!

Monday’s post Hail the Hero was about Max.

Max, a feature film by the producers of the doggie classic Marley and Me, intends to explore a soldier dog’s journey that doesn’t end with this heartbreaking image of a pup chasing down his fallen brother, but rather begins with it.

So it’s rather nice to welcome a guest post from Emily Ridgewell that features a dog that became known far and wide thanks to television and the cinema.

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An Incredible Rescue: An Often Forgotten “Tail” From The Golden Age Of Hollywood

By Emily Ridgewell

In the shadow of recent world tragedies, and long before cute puppies and kittens graced the internet, there were former movie legends in the form of incredible canines that found their way onto the big screen in the golden age of Hollywood. Think of adorable dogs like Toto from The Wizard of Oz or Lassie from many different types of these movies and television shows.

But there’s another “tail” (pardon the pun) about a German Shepherd named Rin Tin Tin who stole America’s heart and eventually had millions of fans all around the world long before the advent of the internet. Few of us today know the real-life story of this precious little puppy who was rescued from a war zone long before Toto or Lassie gained their fame and fortune as canine celebrities.

According to a historically-related biography published long-after this rag-tag dog shot to fame in the late twenties and early thirties, there was a young American soldier stationed in Europe shortly before the end of World War I. Corporal Lee Duncan was traipsing through the aftermath of formerly German-occupied farming village in France when he came across a single building, actually it was a kennel, that remained somewhat intact after a devastating bombing had leveled the entire town.

After cautiously entering the building, the young trooper painfully walked over more than a dozen dead German Shepherd dogs. These canine soldiers were trained for combat and left behind by the Third Reich. Corporal Duncan heard whimpering coming from deeper inside this solitary structure and continued on with his mission. To his amazement, Lee discovered some unlikely survivors of this terrible tragedy.

AFTER THE UNTHINKABLE – LIVING & LOVABLE

Lying in the rubble, there Lee saw a female shepard with five young puppies who were just a few days old. Corporal Duncan was no stranger to abandonment since his own father had left him and his mother to fend for themselves back in 1898. Just a year later, his Mom took him and a younger sibling to an orphanage. Perhaps this tugged on his heartstrings and he couldn’t leave behind this young family so he took them all underneath his wing.

He took the entire brood back to his barracks in a living and loving rescue effort. The young Corporal quickly realized he couldn’t care for all of them and found loving homes for all but two of the pups. He kept a little boy and girl, named them Nanette and Rin Tin Tin, both titles given to good luck charms found in France.

THE CANINES AFTER CHAOS

Lee continued to care for his beloved best buddies as the chaos of the war continued. After the conflict had concluded, Corporal Duncan was bound and determined to take his little war refugees home with him. Imagine the red-tape he was faced with and, long story short, he lost Nanette to pneumonia after bringing them both home to the states.

The WWI veteran got a job in his home state of California and began training Rin Tin Tin to perform some tricks in their spare time. After some filming occurred, the former Corporal wrote a screenplay and the rest (as they say) is history.

There’s an old saying (later turned into a Beatles song – also from many days gone by) that rings true in this case, you “Can’t Buy Me Love.” And that’s the whole point.

You can’t purchase the love and affection of an animal, but if you rescue one, you’ll find unconditional love that lasts forever. You might not become rich and famous after rescuing an animal, but you’ll never find a deeper love and connection with your four-legged best friend.

ooOOoo

Emily Ridgewell is an arts professional and a pet enthusiast from sunny LA. Emily has a creative energy and an aesthetic sense of living, where everything beautiful is worth sharing. She loves her yorkie Olivia and writes original and fun articles on ways to learn and improve your pet-best friend’s life. She finds exciting new things to explore and experience! Don’t forget to connect with her on Twitter: @ridgewell_j

Picking up on that ‘old saying’ with regard to The Beatles makes it easy to close today’s post. (And sorry if this makes some of you feel old!)

Here’s a little bit of music history:

Written by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 29 January; 25 February; 10 March 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Norman Smith, Geoff Emerick

Released: 20 March 1964 (UK), 16 March 1964 (US)

Can’t Buy Me Love was The Beatles’ sixth British single, released with the b-side You Can’t Do That. It was written while the group were in Paris for a 19-date residency at the city’s Olympia Theatre.

Ah! Nostalgia!

10 thoughts on “Return to the movies!

  1. I love Rin Tin Tin! There was a movie in the 70s about this dog that I saw several times as a kid. I also read the book.
    What a terrific story. Great piece by Emily. Fantastic share, Paul.

  2. I also loved Rin Tin Tin – or should I say – all the Rin Tin Tins.
    A few further details regarding the original.
    Rin Tin Tin’s first starring role was in ‘Where the North Begins’ (1923), playing alongside silent screen actress Claire Adams. This film was a huge success and has been credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. It was followed by 24 more screen appearances, all but 4 of them in silent movies. Each of these films was very popular, making such a profit for Warner Bros. that Rin Tin Tin was called “the mortgage lifter” by studio insiders.
    Rin Tin Tin’s films were widely distributed and he soon became famous around the world. As a dog, he was extremely popular because he was well understood by viewers from different nationalities. (At the time, silent films were easily adapted for various countries by simply changing the language of the intertitles.)
    Warner Bros. got thousands of requests for publicity photographs of ‘Rinty’, which were signed with a paw print and a line written by Lee Duncan: “Most faithfully, Rin Tin Tin.”
    Apart from his movie career, Rin Tin Tin was signed for endorsement deals and featured in ads. He also sired at least 48 puppies.(Wiki)
    On August 10, 1932, Rin Tin Tin died at the age of 13, at Duncan’s home in Los Angeles. In the United States, his death set off a national response. Regular programming was interrupted by news bulletins. Newspapers across the nation carried obituaries and magazine articles were written about his life.
    Duncan arranged to have the dog’s body returned to France, the country of his birth for burial in the Cimetiere des Chiens et Autres Animals Domestiques, the famous pet cemetery in the Parisian suburb of Asnieres-sur-Seine.
    A few years ago, I (MargfromTassie) visited this beautiful, peaceful animal cemetery on the banks of the River Seine and saw Rin Tin Tin’s grave, which is visited by thousands of people every year.
    In a poem simply called ‘Rin Tin Tin’, Duncan revealed his close relationship with his long time companion :-

    Alert and ready for my slightest word,
    Rin Tin Tin I so often watch you stand;
    Eager to serve me for that high reward—
    A smile, or just a light touch of my hand.

    Deaf to allurements of those standing by
    when I am near, and deaf when I’m away.
    Forever overjoyed at my return
    However brief or lengthy is my stay.

    Believing in me always, tho I fail,
    Your trust you gave but once, and that to me.
    Yours are the qualities that men hold high,
    Strength and pride and love and loyalty.

    Wherever led my path you’d walk my way.
    And gladly give your life my own to save.
    Enduring pain and hunger, heat and cold—
    And broken hearted die upon my grave.

    A real unselfish love like yours, old pal,
    Is something I shall never know again;
    And I must always be a better man,
    Because you loved me greatly, Rin Tin Tin.

  3. I am an old movie fan Paul (as well as an avid tv watcher as a child in the 1950’s and 60’s.) I run a movie group at the U3A near where I live. I show all sorts of movies – classic, contemporary, art house, indie and foreign language. I make it a point to research the story in the movie and information relating to the actors and the production. When I visited Rin Tin Tin’s grave 7 years ago in Paris, I read about him then. Also, a lot of the information I provided above is on the Internet and Wikipedia.
    Rin Tin Tin and the subsequent Rinnies were largely responsible for the popularity of German Shepherds last century and several other film and tv productions have featured German Shepherds as a result. Do you remember the 1970’s Canadian tv series – The Littlest Hobo, which featured a wandering German Shepherd who helped people he came across in difficult situations? Like Australia’s ‘Skippy, the bush kangaroo’ tv series, it was shown around the world and remains one of Canada’s most successful TV series ever.
    I guess my favourite dog movie of all time remains the 1943 classic – ‘Lassie Come Home’, closely followed by Disney’s 1961 ‘GreyFriar’s Bobby’ and ‘The Incredible Journey’ as well as the latter’s remake, ‘Homeward Bound’. – Margaret

    1. Ah, that explains why! I don’t remember that Canadian series but I do recall well the Lassie film. Also, I didn’t realise that it was the Rin Tin Tin film and more that was the cause for the surge in ownership of German Shepherd dogs. Makes sense!

    1. I think you will find that the videos have been out for quite a few years. Just do a search on YouTube for Rin Tin Tin – you will find many to watch. But I get your drift about bawling in theaters!

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