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Old Yeller

Latest Home Video

Nov 14, 2005

MPAA Rating:



1957 Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Still shot from the movie: Old Yeller.

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Overall B
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Making the Grades

Although I never saw Old Yeller when I was a child, my husband distinctly recalls the day it was shown as a special treat in the rural elementary school he attended. A newcomer from the city, he sites that moment as the one where he lost all hope of maintaining any sort of manly image in the eyes of the seasoned farm kids who were now his peers. Right after Bambi, it was the most traumatic movie experience of his young life.

For all his embarrassment, I suspect he wasn't the only one to shed a few tears. Tugging on the heartstrings of anyone who has ever felt puppy love, this Disney film tells the story of a stray, yellow-haired mongrel that takes up residence on a Texas frontier ranch.

Helping himself to their provisions, the thieving mutt is at first not welcomed by fourteen-year-old Travis (Tommy Kirk). However, the brown-eyed brute manages to steal the affection of little Arliss (Kevin Corcoran), and solicit sympathy from the boys' mother (Dorothy McGuire), who would like the animal's protection while her husband (Fess Parker) is away. Before long the disheveled dog proves himself so indispensable that the family (and especially Travis) don't know how they ever got by without him. But complaining neighbors, run-ins with wild creatures and an epidemic of hydrophobia (also known as rabies), may put an end to the happy relationship.

Cherished as a family classic for close to fifty years, the movie still presents some concerns for children (citified or otherwise), who might not be as comfortable with hunting and killing wildlife, or the harsher realities of dealing with livestock. Moments of peril and depictions of bloody wounds also play a part in this drama of 1860s western life. (Not to mention some moments of political incorrectness.)

Yet, I suspect what has endeared several generations to this film may be its themes of love and loss. Based on a novel by Fred Gipson, this coming-of-age story demonstrates the qualities needed to make a boy a man -- hard work, a willingness to shoulder responsibility and a determination to do what needs to be done -- even if it breaks your heart (and makes you cry in front of your whole class).

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Old Yeller.

The move mentions a disease called “hydrophobia,” which is now known as rabies. To learn more about this fatal illness, check out this site.

The mother in the story tries to protect young Arliss, from some of the ugly reality they must face as well as the consequences of letting his imagination run wild. Why do you think she does this? How does this effect the young boy’s behavior?

Canadian Movie Ratings

Not Rated
AB Not Rated
MB Not Rated -----
ON Not Rated
QC Not Rated
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: G

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Tommy (parent of 4) says: Jun. 02, 2009

I finally was able to rent this movie for my 2 oldest (7 and 9) so they could watch a movie about a real hero and the best dog ever to hit the big screen.

I do not see Lassie as an alternative to Old Yeller.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend and that is exactly what Old Yeller does time and time again. This old yellow dog sacrificed his own life so that his family might live. This is exactly the same thing that followers of Jesus claim that he did and that is why I believe this story is so compelling and a must see for our children today.

The older boy in the movie was respectful to adults and had a healthy relationship with his father (another rarity in today’s society). All in all, the emotions a child gets to experience in this movie are a privilege. My children will watch this movie over and over again I hope.

Unfortunately the movies come today for children are not even close to the quality of this one. Bibleman and Veggie Tale are good but too many they are too overtly Christian.

Old Yeller is all Christian without saying the word “Jesus”. A+

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