Old Yeller

Old Yeller

Synopsis of Movie

“Hey, Yeller, come back, Yeller.
Best doggone dog in the west.”

Get out the hankies, folks. It’s Old Yeller time. Fusing the “True-Life” nature documentary with the children’s movie, Walt Disney created the first and most memorable in a long line of “boy and his dog” movies. A low-key classic, based on Fred Gipson’s novel (and adapted by Gipson himself), Old Yeller broke young hearts across the country and left them crying for more.

The coming-of-age story, set in post-Civil-War Texas, begins when Jim Coates (Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker) has to leave his family behind for a three-month cattle drive. Fifteen-year-old Travis is left as the man of the house, and he takes his responsibilities very seriously. The boy gets the feathers of his authority ruffled a bit when younger brother Arliss brings home a stray yellow dog, but patient mother Katie explains to her eldest son that the youngster needs a friend. Eventually, “Old Yeller” wins a place in the family, saving and protecting the kids and farm from a variety of wild animals.

Travis and Yeller become inseparable pals, and the boy takes his dog along for a wild pig hunt. The hunt turns dangerous when Travis falls in among the rampaging hogs, but Yeller comes to the rescue. Boy and dog recover fine from the incident, but trouble just won't stay away from the Coates homestead. A rabid wolf tries to attack the family, and in defending his masters, Yeller may have contracted rabies. When Travis' worst fears come true, the young man is forced to make a heartbreaking decision.

Though poignant and heartbreaking, Old Yeller had an old-fashioned charm, subtly effective performances, beautiful outdoor photography, and a fairly happy ending. 1957 audiences responded with their pocketbooks, making the film one of the biggest hits of the year. Old Yeller’s success prompted Disney to make cost-effective live action films the backbone of his studio, using them as a financial base to continue making the more expensive and time-consuming animated features. A sequel to Old Yeller, Savage Sam, arrived to a lukewarm reception in 1963.

Movie Release History

1957 - Old Yeller
1963 - Savage Sam

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Katie Coates Dorothy McGuire
Jim Coates Fess Parker
Bud Searcy Jeff York
Burn Sanderson Chuck Connors
Lisbeth Searcy Beverly Washburn
Travis Coates Tommy Kirk
Arliss Coates Kevin Corcoran

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