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Warner Home Video presents
"Laddie! What are you doing here?"
DVD ReviewMGM had such a big hit with Lassie Come Home that a sequel was probably inevitable. This picture takes up some six to eight years after the events of that picture, with young Joe grown up and Lassie with puppies. One of them, Laddie, is the title son, and although he's not as inclined to perform tricks as mother, he shares her infallible homing instincts. Since even Sherlock Holmes was called up to fight the fascists in his 1940s films, it's little surprise that Lassie and her progeny are enlisted to do the same here.
Joe has grown up (in the form of Peter Lawford), as has Priscilla (now June Lockhart). Despite the budding romance between them, little comes between a boy or a man and his dog. Laddie is so devoted to Joe that he constantly runs off to join him at the air base where Joe is training for the RAF. On one occasion, he manages to stow away aboard Joe's plane as he heads off on a reconnaissance flight over Nazi-occupied Norway. Unfortunately for them, Joe is shot down and the pair are separated. It's then up to Laddie to not only find Joe, but get him out of Norway before the Nazis can catch them.
Lawford makes for a reasonably credible grown-up Roddy McDowall, while Lockhart isn't exactly Liz Taylor. Their performances are adequate enough, with altogether too little running time devoted to Donald Crisp and Nigel Bruce, who reprise their roles from the original. Laddie gets even more badly worked over than Lassie did in that film, but as a "war dog" that rough treatment comes with the territory. This picture has a certain amount of notoriety in the manner in which Laddie tends to screw up: on one occasion, his loyalty leads the Nazis straight to the hidden Joe, and also manages to get one of his benefactors killed.
Where the original film traded in sentiment and tugged at the heartstrings, this second entry in the series is more of a straightforward adventure yarn. Improbable as it may be, it has its entertaining moments, most notably an exciting run of rapids as Joe and Laddie attempt to evade the Germans. But the film feels rather overlong and wears out its welcome by 20 minutes before the end. Some brutal editing could have made it a much better picture. Matters aren't helped any by a group of over-declamatory children, who mainly serve to point up just how good McDowall was as the young Joe. It's an adequate followup, but doesn't compare favorably to its predecessor.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The source material of this film looks a good deal better than that of the original. While there's some nicking throughout and a visible scratch during one stretch, color is quite stable and there isn't any major damage. Detail is quite good.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The disc sports both a English and French 1.0 track. The English is very clean, with hiss practically invisible. On a few occasions the music seems oddly muffled-sounding, but overall this sounds quite good considering it's nearly 60 years old.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsA somewhat weak sequel picks up the tale and runs to somewhat outlandish lengths with it. Not much for extras, though period cartoons are always welcome.
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