Bark! Bark!; or, Two of the Worst Silver-Screen Western Animal Heroes

Bucko here! Raging floods! Avalanche! And revisions! I’m teetering on a precipice of novel decisions (one false move and I’ll fall into the Maelstrom of Indecisive Despair…)


…when to my rescue comes


That’s right, Lassie! Saved! Guest blogger Flapjack42 is back with the  Top 10 Worst Animal as Silver-Screen Western Hero movies ever! And boy, do I need to flush out my eyes after reading these! Each review is so chock full of goodness I have to sprinkle them  throughout the month, whenever I need rescued! Without further ado, while I plung back into the death-defying edits!!!!! Flapjack42 and #10 and #9!!!!!!

#10 Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (TV; 1955-1958) HERO: Yukon King

“Stop in the name of the Crown!” This movie is under arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounties! On King! On you huskies! The dogsled race between good and evil represents the metaphorical flight of the spirit of the hero and his sidekick. The painted scenery and snow effects (it’s not a fit night out for man or beast) are staggeringly fake. The scenes of the Canadian wilderness are beautiful, even if they are shot in Colorado. The horrific script is written to make the most of the indoor scenes, which are cheaper to make. Windy sound effects don’t ruffle the stagey scenery. And it’s funny how all those cabins resemble each other, don’t you think?

Yukon King, a drop-dead-gorgeous Malamute, is genuinely friendly. They use a stuffed dog when they have close-up bite-the-villain scenes. Sergeant Preston talks to the dog as if King can understand stilted Lone Ranger-style English : “Go to Marine Headquarters, King!” “Back window King! Go in the back window!”

And my favorite…”Be careful King! Get this message through! And lay low, the Indians may try to shoot you!”

And of course King saves Preston and the whole platoon. WOOF!

But we DO have memorable dialogue.

Preston sticks his finger in the powder, tastes. “Just as I thought,” he announces. “Strychnine!”

Villain One says, “Why don’t you use your head?”

Villain’s Henchman replies, “Because it takes too long!”

WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION? The shots of Yukon King leaping off a snowbank over the cameraman’s head!


#9  FURY, KING OF THE WILD STALLIONS (TV; 1955-1960) HERO: Fury, of course!

A modern Western? Yesirree: a horse and his boy, an estate wagon, a helicopter, and two-way radios. All are designed to make the 1950s boy say, “Neat!” As for me, bring back that black Saddlebred stallion! The horse, whose original name was Highland Dale, has a great threat display, and whinnies, horselaughs, walks lame, nickers, unties knots, lies down, tosses his head up and down, and of course his majesty graciously allows people to feed and pet him. Neat!

The horse and his boy stroll through the plastic foliage and past a pond that looks a lot like the one in the Tarzan movie we saw last week. Bring on the fake alligator! Stock pictures of wildlife on a threadbare outdoor rug are just as realistic as thinking that a scrawny 10-year-old can handle 1100 horse pounds of bone, muscle, and attitude.

The boy enters a desert (representing the boy’s troublesome psyche) to catch a mare he had set loose in a fit of self-doubt. The horse breaks out of the corral as enthusiastically as the boy frees his inner self. The horse is wounded and the boy heals the horse and himself of humanophobia. Later on there’s a good bucking scene in which the horse trashes the villain and chases two of them right over the fence with the horse in hot pursuit. The fistfights are short and heroic and never muss up the human hero’s hair (or the horse’s). To add insult to injury, a mine car crash looks like a shopping cart pushed off a Walmart parking lot.

WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Nothing was. This one had all the taste and crunch of a damp dog biscuit.

HOW DID I LIKE THIS MOVIE: I’d rather be trampled by the King of the Wild Stallions than watch this one again!

Narrator: This is the range country where the pounding hooves of untamed horses still thunder in mountains, meadows and canyons. Every herd has its own leader, but there is only one Fury – Fury, King of the Wild Stallions. And here in the wild west of today, hard-riding men still battle the open range for a living – men like Jim Newton, owner of the Broken Wheel Ranch and Pete, his top hand, who says he cut his teeth on a branding iron.   –Fury, 1955

[Bucko: Um, ow?]

Also, check out Broken Wheel Ranch, a fan site for Fury–the West, it is big enough for all viewpoits.

2 comments to Bark! Bark!; or, Two of the Worst Silver-Screen Western Animal Heroes

  • Tim

    Hi Bucko,

    Thankfully, I’ve never seen a single episode of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon . . . even if our Canadian West was populated with American heroes . . .

  • bucko

    Hey, Tim, I’m sorry that Canada’s rough-and-ready characters have to be represented by this stiff guy. Unless all Mounties are like this?

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