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  • ...at least not in the sense of you getting your own way. This is the lesson of this installment of the Rusty series in which Danny Mitchell has developed quite a problem of lying. Hugh Mitchell is taking a tough stand with Danny, spanking him and threatening to send him to military school. All this does is instill a sense of fear of rejection in Danny so that he gets deeper and deeper into one particular lie that he told to cover up an initially rather innocent mistake that he made with the lie ultimately causing both a scandal and a tragedy. It takes a blind handy man - unique to this particular Rusty film - to get father and son on the same page again.

    This Rusty film has a bigger dose of Rusty than has been present since the first film of the series. Also, John Litel and Ann Doran return as Danny's parents Hugh and Ethel, and again give very believable performances. Some more history has been rewritten here, though. In the first film Danny's mom is clearly actually his stepmom - in fact that whole issue is the subject of the first Rusty film. Here we have Ethel talking about how she and Hugh met in college, thus changing Danny's stepmother into his actual mother. This just shows that Columbia probably did not intend to make Rusty into a series until after they made and released the first film, else they would have avoided the whole "alternative family" issue altogether.

    Ted Donaldson is definitely growing up by this entry, and he is being given more age-appropriate growing-pain kind of situations to deal with. A good entry in the series with the focus back on the Mitchell family and back on Rusty.
  • (There are Spoilers) Not only Danny Mitchell but his dad Hugh, Ted Donaldson & John Litel, learn a very important lesson in "My Dog Rusty" which has to do with both not telling a fib, on Danny's part, and not overreacting to that fib, on Mr. Mitchells part. Where you end up creating far more damage and hurt to the person fibbing to the point where he can very well turn out to be an emotional cripple for the rest of his life.

    Danny together with his dog Rusty are out late at night campaigning for his dad to be elected the next mayor of Lawtonville and is caught in a lie when Mr. Mitchell catches him sneaking into his room. Asked by an outraged Mr. Mitchell where he was that evening Danny meekly tells his father that he was fast asleep, with all his clothes on?, and is then giving a couple whacks in the behind by his dad.

    Trying to make up for his lying Danny tries to go straight in getting involved with the towns new veterinarian Dr. Toni Cardell, Mona Barrie, in helping out in the towns sick and injured dogs and cats with Moveover a cute and cuddly little mutt, who belong to the towns knife and scissor grinder the blind Josh Tucker (Whitford Kane), being one of them.

    With both Mr. Mitchell and Lawtonville Mayor Fulderweilder, Lewis R. Russell, locked in a tight race for mayor a suspected outbreak of cholera hits the town with a number of young boys hospitalized. Dr. Cardell taking samples of tap water as well as water from the rivers and streams around town to find out just was is causing these strange and serious illnesses. Josh Tucker, the towns man of the year, goes around town with his grinder and dog Moreover urging people to please boil their water before drinking or cooking with it. Soon rumors start to spread around town that Mayor Fulderwilder is covering up his own responsibility in the dirty water scandal that's now engulfing the entire town of Lawtonville.

    It turns out that what's causing all these illnesses is the water from Old Stinky Rooney's duck pound outside of town where the boys who fell ill were swimming in not too long ago. Danny is working late one afternoon in Dr. Cardell's lab when he, or really his dog Rusty, accidentally knocks over a number of sealed bottles of samples of water taken by Dr. Cardell to test for germs. Desperate to cover up what happened Danny replaces the broken and empty bottles with new ones filled with water, the only sample that wasn't knocked down and broken, from Stinky Rooney's dirty and filthy water hole.

    The truth slowly starts to come out to what Danny did and his old man Mr. Mitchell is mad as hell not only in Danny lying about what happened but him jeopardizing his campaign for mayor as well as making a complete fool and liar of sweet old and blind Josh Tucker who went around town telling everyone to boil their water not knowing that the water was all right and fit to drink!

    Things get so out of hand that at a campaign speech in the towns square both Mitchell and Fuldenwilder together with his nephew and campaign manager Rodney ,Jimmy Lloyd, almost come to blows. In the chaos and confusion Tucker's little dog Moreover in trying to get his blind masters walking stick back to him ends up getting hit over the head by a flower pot that Tucker, not being able to see what he's doing, knocked over that ended up killing him.

    Danny now completely destroyed in feeling that he screwed everyone in Lawtonville, including his friend and boss Dr. Cardell, runs away from home and sends Rusty to Josh Tucker to replace he best friend in the world the tragically and accidentally killed Moreover. Rusty has his own ideas and those are to bring Danny back home to face the music and at the same time reunite him with his mom Ethel, Ann Doran, and dad Hugh Mitchell but at a price that will almost cost him his life.

    Both Danny and his dad Hugh Mitchell learned in the end that telling the truth, even when your a politician running for office, is both honest and rewarding at the same time not that it makes thing better for you in the near future but it will make a much better person out of you for the rest of your life. Mr. Mitchell, who lost the election by a hair, also learned that he can get much better results by having a heart to heart talk with his son Danny about the values of being honest and truthful then in trying to beat those very same values into him.
  • From the outset, the viewer has to be aware that this is a story about the boy who cried Wolf once too often, so that no one believed him when the wolf actually attacked.

    It's a message wrapped up tidily in a harmless little programmer from Columbia, MY DOG RUSTY, again starring TED DONALDSON as the boy who seems incapable of staying out of trouble until the happy ending.

    This time he's a meddler in the affairs of a woman doctor (MONA BARRIE) and her experiments on bacteria-laden water and, even more importantly, in the affairs of his father (JOHN LITEL) who has a hard time running for mayor when his son is accused of being a liar.

    The dog "Rusty" does a commendable job of looking interested in whatever is going on, although there are times when he seems to be acting strictly on cue from a man on the sidelines who gets a full share of glances when the camera is turning. He's not, in my opinion, in the same league with MGM's famous collie, Lassie.

    The kids all sound like kids reading their lines for the first time and only Donaldson delivers a fairly natural performance as the boy who learns all of his lessons the hard way.

    It passes the time quickly and obviously was designed to fill the second half of a double bill back in the good old days of double features. ANN DORAN is again the boy's protective mother, but JOHN LITEL has the biggest part as the boy's occasionally stern parent baffled by his son's growing up years.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was a big time Lassie and Rin Tin Tin fan back in the mid Fifties, but I never ran across Rusty till today on Turner Classics. He's at the center of your classic 'boy who cries wolf' story once too often, when owner Danny (Ted Donaldson) gets caught in a cover up that impacts the entire town of Lawtonville. A good alternate title for this picture might have been 'The Stinky Rooney Water Caper', but then Rusty wouldn't have been mentioned as the draw for the picture, as he was for a series of these adventures back in the late Forties.

    I was puzzled by the opening scene when Danny's dad, Hugh Mitchell (John Litel) excuses himself from the card game at the fire department. Stating that it would be nice to surprise his wife by getting home as early as 7:15, the next moment he's catching his son scamper up a ladder to his bedroom with Rusty at a quarter to midnight. That must have been a long walk home.

    There are a few scenes in the picture that wouldn't pass muster today - for one, Danny gets the strap behind closed doors for telling another fib. Not that it doesn't happen, just not in the movies. But at least that was more believable than seeing the doctor (Mona Barrie) make house calls. I can actually remember a doctor making a house call to my home when my father suffered burns to his legs in an accident. I just can't remember when the practice actually went out of fashion.

    Much of the story centers around Hugh Mitchell's run for mayor, and the trouble caused by Danny's handling of an accident at the new doctor's office lab. The incident reverberates throughout the entire community, and even winds up costing Citizen of the Year Tucker (Whitford Kane) his trusted canine friend Moreover. I don't think the story had to go that far to make it's point, but who am I to say.

    Actually, I don't think a film like "My Dog Rusty" is a bad thing for a youngster to see today. It packs a lot more message into it's sixty seven minute run time than a whole boat load of current day fare, and it's something a kid can relate to. Come to think of it, we could probably use a lot more Rusty, Lassie, and Rin Tin Tin stories today, especially if your kid starts out like Dennis the Menace.
  • lugonian19 November 2007
    MY DOG RUSTY (Columbia, 1948), directed by Lew Landers, the fifth in the program theatrical series featuring the Mitchell family of Lawtonville, along with their dog, Rusty, in another story revolving about family values, moral lessons, tolerance between parents and child, and the truth about lies.

    The story opens with Hugh Mitchell (John Litel) playing cards with members of the Lawtonville Volunteer Fire Department. Mitchell, a city counselor, is running for town mayor against opponent Fulderwilder (Lewis L. Russell), who has already served four consecutive terms and is campaigning for a fifth. Danny (Ted Donaldson), Mitchell's teen-age son, in his spare time, places fliers around town sponsoring his father as well as having formed his very own neighborhood animal hospital catering to dogs and cats at no charge. In spite of his good intentions in helping others, such as Moreover, a little dog belonging to Joshua Michael Tucker (Whitford Kane), a blind man and scissor grinder, his father disapproves of his son's constant lying, especially when he catches him climbing up the ladder into his bedroom window shortly before midnight and lying about it when confronted by his father. Because he didn't tell him the truth, father punishes son by using his strap on his bottom. After Danny obtains a part-time job assisting Antonia "Tony" Cordell (Mona Barrie), a new doctor in town, and former sweetheart of Mr. Mitchell, problems soon arise when several of Danny's pals become seriously ill from contaminated water. Tony collects water samples and places the labeled bottles in her laboratory. When Rusty accidentally breaks the bottles, Danny covers up by switching the labels on the other water samples, leading the doctor to face the public with the results after Fulderwilder's nephew, Rodney (Jimmy Lloyd) obtains the samples and proving Tony's warnings about the water to be false. In spite of witnessing Tony being ridiculed and Mr. Tucker speaking on her behalf, causing his good name to be disgraced, Danny continues to be in full denial even after he's confronted by his father to tell the truth. Further lies from Danny cause his dad to lose the election, leading Danny to leave home, afraid to face the consequences and the possibility of being sent away to military school. While camping out in the woods miles away from home, accompanied by Rusty, Rusty saves Danny's life from a poisonous rattle snake by getting bitten himself. Danny rushes home to his father for help, who at this point is so mad at him that he refuses to believe anything he tells him again.

    A predictable scenario commonly found in television shows and family films such as this, with the relationship between father and son jeopardized with mother, Ethel (Ann Doran) acting as the peacemaker. While much of the story does ring true at times, only the final results aren't as believable as one would like it to be. One of the best moments occur during the father and son talk in which Hugh explaining his reason for disciplining him so much is because he loves him and wants him to grow into a decent citizen. These words are a constant reminder for both parents and children that should never go out of style. This is a well handled moment captured on film that would have any sentimentalist become teary-eyed. Another scene worth noting is how a father can be wrong for his actions and learning why his son is afraid to tell the truth.

    For followers of the series from its humble beginning, MY DOG RUSTY mentions wife Ethel married to Hugh for 16 years, indicating Ethel to be Danny's natural mother, forgetting in the initial entry, ADVENTURES OF RUSTY (1945), the wife/mother has died, leaving father to remarry, a friend of the family named Ann. Contradictions in series films are quite common, indicating viewers wouldn't remember or know the difference from one film to the other. MY DOG RUSTY isn't exactly a full-fledged Rusty movie, regardless of the title, but the German shepherd does get to have some interesting moments towards the end minutes of the story most worthy of a dog biscuit or two.

    Series regulars include David Ackles (Tuck Worden); Dwayne Hickman (Nip WOrden); Mickey McGuire (Gerald Hebble); and Teddy Infuhr ("Squeaky" Foley), among others.

    Rarely seen on television since the 1960s, it took a cable station such as Turner Classic Movies to bring this and other "Rusty" movies back to full view in 2007. MY DOG RUSTY may not be the best in the series, but does get by as fine family film viewing typical from the 1940s. Next in the series, RUSTY LEADS THE WAY (1948). (** lie detectors)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In small-town Lawtonville, teenager Ted Donaldson (as Daniel "Danny" Mitchell) has sneaked out well past his bedtime to tear down campaign posters promoting Mayor Lewis L. Russell (as Fulderwilder)'s reelection and replace them with his preferred candidate, father John Litel (as Hugh). After complaining about his son's lies, Mr. Litel returns from a volunteer firemen's meeting and catches young Donaldson and his dog "Rusty" sneaking in their bedroom window. Litel yells at Donaldson and whips him with a belt...

    The beating is not shown on screen; we see Litel getting angry, getting the belt and shutting the bedroom door. Later, Donaldson complains about the pain and indicates his buttocks; mother Ann Doran (as Ethel) calls it a "painful" evening...

    Next, Donaldson meets newly arrived female doctor Mona Barrie (as Antonia "Toni" Cordell) while bandaging a dog owned by blind Whitford Kane (as Joshua Michael Tucker). Impressed with Donaldson's "Dog and Cat Hospital", Ms. Barrie asks Donaldson to be his assistant. She advises him to keep his dog out of the lab, but Donaldson disobeys and Rusty knocks over some vials of water Barrie is testing to determine what is making some of Lawtonville's young citizens sick. Donaldson exclaims, "Will we get the dickens for this!" Indeed, Litel threatens to beat "the living daylights" out of Donaldson and send him away to military school...

    Donaldson replaces the vials of water with contaminated samples. Of course, this could have a terrible effect on Donald's sick friends; it also threatens Litel's mayoral bid and leads to a canine tragedy. Good lessons for kids; bad example of fathering.

    ***** My Dog Rusty (4/8/48) Lew Landers ~ Ted Donaldson, John Litel, Mona Barrie, Whitford Kane
  • My Dog Rusty (1948)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    The fifth film in the Columbia series has Huge Mitchell (John Litel) running for Mayor while at the same time trying to break his son Danny (Ted Donaldson) of lying. Soon Danny's lies get out and a bad rumor comes from it, which could cause his father's chance of being elected. MY DOG RUSTY no doubt wants to pass off a message to kids that lying doesn't pay but I think the other "lessons" it gives out are just as worse but more on that in a minute. There's no doubt that this was an ultra low-budget series but I found this entry to be pretty entertaining thanks in large part to a nice story that didn't have to resort to preaching to get its message across. With that said, I found it interesting that Danny is being blamed for everything bad that happens in the movie but at the same time it's doubtful these lies would be nearly as damaging to the election as the father's temper, which gets out of hand several times. I mean, he's constantly threatening his son but even worse is a fight he gets into with the current mayor and he even goes after another man in public. These "fights" would seem to be just as bad as the lying but whatever. Once again we get nice performances by Donaldson, Litel and Ann Doran as the mother. The supporting cast includes nice work from Mona Barrie as a town doctor, Whitford Kane as a blind man and Lewis L. Russell as the mayor. The funny thing is that Rusty really doesn't factor too much into the movie. Whereas the previous films had him being a key part, he's really useless here and adds very little. Still, fans of the series should find this entertaining and at 67-minutes it flies by.