Killer-Dog (1936, Jacques Tourneur)

Killer-Dog is the story of a dog on trial. Really. It’s a courtroom short concerning a farm dog accused of being a sheep killer. Tourneur and producer Pete Smith take a while to get to that detail though, just referring letting the sensational title do the work of riling the viewer’s imagination.

It’s a rather effective short, which Tourneur manages to tell without a lot of sentiment. Even though he’s constantly showing the dog’s owner, young Babs Nelson, sympathetically, the case against the dog is strong. In order to get the narrative to work, in order to keep it suspenseful anyway, Tourneur and Smith have to actively deceive the viewer.

The finale is so well-executed, however, it’s impossible to hold that deception against Killer-Dog. Smith’s narration, occasionally grating, can’t even compare with the excellent direction and performances. Nelson’s great, Ralph Byrd’s great.

It’s a fine little film.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jacques Tourneur; produced by Pete Smith; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Ralph Byrd (Father), Betty Ross Clarke (Mother) and Babs Nelson (Betty Lou); narrated by Pete Smith.


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