Monday, August 31, 2009

The Legend of Lobo (1962)

Directed by James Algar by Jack Couffer. In 1962 Walt Disney made this snuff film for children, showing beautiful wild animals and then shooting them full of lead. Based on my years of film watching, I'm not really sure how certain scenes in this movie could have been made without simply chaining up animals and shooting them with guns. This may explain why the movie is long out of print, because otherwise, I have to say, it's pretty damn good.

It's the late 19th century and Lobo is a curious little wolf cub who grows up and has a number of adventures. At least one of his adventures involves cowboys shooting a cougar, in a scene that looks uncannily as if the cougar used in the scene was actually shot. In another of Lobo's adventure's the cowboys shoot his mother. While we don't actually see them shoot her, we do see her dead on the ground, and while I have never seen a dead wolf for real before, I'd be willing to bet that it looks exactly like the one shown here, which also looks exactly like the one that had been alive in the scene just beforehand. In another of Lobo's adventures, his father steps into a cast iron trap, which cuts badly into his leg. It would appear that in order to achieve just the right level of verisimilitude for this scene, they had a wolf step into a cast iron trap.

In another of Lobo's adventures -- well, you get the idea. I'm not sure how they managed to get footage of Lobo fighting with another wolf, but I'm just saying, this flick was made long before the days of any humane society rules governing filming animals and it really, really shows.

It's weird that when we didn't care how animals were treated in filming, we also wanted movies about animals getting shot and beaten. And today, when there are lots of rules governing how animals are treated on set, it's not as if we fake those sorts of things. We just don't have any interest in that sort of stuff, plot-wise either. Our real-life concerns mirror what we want to see in those movies. Animation is the way to go. If we want to see violence with animals, we should animate them. Then the sky's the limit. We could have fish get into knife fights.

Actually, there is a gap in real-life movies between what we're OK with seeing and how it needed to be filmed. "Benji." That kidnapper dude kicks Benji's girlfriend, that little shitty white dog. That 1974 scene is contemporary enough that it must have been faked with some kind of bell-bottom era Beanie Baby, but the movie was still made when a good old fashioned puppy kicking made it into theaters -- something unthinkable today.

Damn. Now I have to see "Benji." And if I'm going to see that, I might as well go ahead and finally check out its sequel -- which I've never seen -- "For the Love of Benji," which I'm sure is a masterpiece. And naturally that reminds me of Chevy Chase in "Oh, Heavenly Dog!" in which he plays a guy whose soul passes into the body of a dog. In addition to simply being a movie star whose entire career passed into a series of dogs.

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