So it’s come to this again. Another year has passed and I’m still inexplicably taking screengrabs of cute animals in high cinema. I haven’t been as broad in my viewing as in years past. A big chunk of my watching was Dirk Bogarde, whom I wrote my master’s dissertation about. There was no shortage of cute animals in his films though, as you’ll see. The man himself was quite a dog lover. The picture directly above is of the man himself in his pad with his hound, mildly terrifying an interviewer on the eve of the release of Victim in 1961. Enjoy this selection and here’s to many more in 2013! (See last year’s selection of the cutest animals in film). If there was ever any doubt, I’ve concluded the donkey is art cinema’s animal of choice (perhaps tipping their hat to the ‘saint of cinema’). Pulp cinema loves a dog, as you’ll see.
Doctor in the House (Thomas/1954)
4 stills from the beautiful Elgar (Russell/1962)
3 stills from Forbidden (King/1949), which follows British cinema’s abiding interest in the meddlesome scamp of a dog interfering in murder…
…as here in the educational short Partners in Crime (1949)…
…and here in Obsession (Dmytryk/1949) saving our hero from a dip in an acid bath
Dog washing in a bathtub in My Brother’s Wedding (Burnett/1983)
This goat stands in for Mae West against W.C. Fields advances in My Little Chickadee (Cline/1940)
Donkeys=high cinema proven again in Of Gods and Men (Beauvois/2010)
A mournful pup towards the end of Passe Ton Bac D’abord (Pialat/1979)
Pacino and a hilariously incongrous range of pets for an undercover agent in Serpico (Lumet/1973)
One of the last survivors of Bruce Dern’s madness in Silent Running (Trumbull/1972)
Bogarde teases this pup in The Sleeping Tiger (Losey/1954)
This dog tries to lodge a police complain in The Blue Lamp (Dearden/1949)
Everyone loves a monkey in The Entertainer (Richardson/1960)
This little yapper raises the alarm in The Hole (Dante/2009)
You can tell this is early Kubrick because he’s still got the heart to include a puppy in The Killing (Kubrick/1956)
These pups react to Bette Davis’s shoot out in the opening scene of The Letter (Wyler/1940)…
Diana Dors finds comfort on death row with a kitty in Yield to the Night (Lee Thompson/1956)
Youth in Revolt (Arteta/2009)
There are two notable absences of cinematic animals that I would have loved to have included. I watched Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers and Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths back to back at the London Film Festival and both have a central dog character (and both left me feeling greatness had been squandered but that’s another story for another time).
Best animal of my viewing of 2012 was The Awful Truth. An hilarious screwball comedy with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne from 1937. In most of the films I’ve selected here, the animals play an incidental, or at best a prop-like position. Mr Smith (played by one Skippy the dog) is a full character in this film, and is the focus of many brilliant set pieces. This is Mr Smith’s portfolio.