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A Dog of Flanders
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from 283 votes
Release: 17 March 1959 (USA) /

A Dog of Flanders

Genre: Drama, Family
Director: James B. Clark,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: The emotional story of a boy, his grandfather, and his dog. The boy's dream of becoming a great classical painter appears shattered when his loving grandfather dies.

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Critic Reviews


I went to see this movie in 1961, when I was fourteen, and it became one of only four movies seen during my life that actually moved me to tears in the cinema (for the record, the others were LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING; THE PROUD REBEL and THE STORY OF RUTH). A DOG OF FLANDERS is a superb tear-jerker, filmed on location in Holland and Belgium in 1959, but set in 1900. It stars the then twelve-year-old David Ladd as the orphan Nello and veteran actor Donald Crisp as his elderly and infirm grandfather. Although devoted to one another, they live a very poor life selling milk from a hand cart they pull around Antwerp. Nello is an artistic, intelligent and sensitive little boy who wants to paint like his idol, Peter Paul Rubens, but he has no money to enable him to study or to buy proper materials to paint with. They find a badly treated dog, left to die at the roadside by his heartless owner and take him home and care for him. Because he's been so badly treated, it takes time for him to accept them as his friends. But eventually, they gain his trust. Nello names him Patrasche...the name that Rubens had given to his dog...and he becomes part of the small family, even pulling the cart when grandfather is unable to do so any more. One day, Nello has just finished a sketch of the old man dozing in a chair outside their one-roomed hut and goes to show him the finished drawing. But he cannot awaken him and slowly, he comes to realize that his beloved grandfather is dead. Completely bereft and unable to keep up the rent on their home, Nello and Patrasche are evicted by an uncaring landlord in the middle of winter. Somehow, they have to learn how to survive without his grandfather in a harsh and bitter world. A DOG OF FLANDERS, from the 1872 novel by Ouida, had been filmed previously, notably in 1934, but never so well as this. It really is beautifully done all round and everyone connected with it should feel very proud of the result. The music score by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter is very haunting and David Ladd, who had previously given such a truly wonderful performance alongside his father Alan in THE PROUD REBEL (1958), is superb. David and I shared the same Christian name, were both the same age and had similar looks, which made it easy for me to identify with him in A DOG OF FLANDERS, which became one of my all time favorite movies. Theodore Bikel has a good character role in it as an artist who befriends Nello, eventually adopts him and helps him to realize his dreams. Beautifully filmed in CinemaScope and Color by De Luxe, this is a wonderful film and you really would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it. I give it ten out of ten.

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