The Good, the Bad and the Rinty; or, Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

The chasm yawns below me. My fingers ache from their grip on the rock; my feet kick wildly for purchase, nothing between them and novel-revision and work deadlines except dead air–and too few hours.

I feel my fingers giving and I regret the many hours I spent on Twitter rather than doing finger exercises, and I give one final, wild yell of despair as I begin to slide…

A strong grip around my wrists halts my progress into madness and oblivion. Flapjack42 to save the day! All hail this guest blogger! Because Flapjack42 watches these stinkers so YOU DON”T HAVE TO!

#5  Lightning Warrior (1931 serial) HERO: Rin Tin Tin, Sr.

Evil cloaked one vs. dog. Yessss!

This is Rin Tin Tin, Sr., the original dog star who was a real life hero, too. He got his start running dispatches through enemy lines, not a job for wimps.* The Indians call him the Lightning Warrior. Frankie Darrow co-stars, who will go on to star in The Worst Western Ever Made. (He can’t act in that one either.) The kid gets K.O.’d in the first episode. An Indian picks him up. The kid looks like a wooden mannequin, the best acting he’s done so far. Frankie and Rinty actually like each other. They look comfortable in the scenes where Frankie holds Rinty close while he goes into his sorrowful ham act. Yeej.

* Miss Hereford of adds a correction: Rin Tin Tin, Sr., was a puppy of only 8 months old when WWI ended. Rin Tin Tin III and Lee Duncan did work at Camp Hahn in California helping train dogs for WWII. Thanks for the addition to our wisdom! –bucko

Rin Tin Tin in active service. War hero!

Scene flash!  The kid and dog find a cave while dodging hostile Native Americans. Frankie sticks his foot in a bear trap like an idiot, and now Rinty has to get him out of this mess! The pursuing Indians shoot fire arrows into the cave. Rinty grips one of them in his teeth and drags it over the cave floor, extinguishing it. However, more fire arrows strike near the boy and the cave floor catches fire. Here is the cliffhanger, or rather, the caveburner. The boy smells all that bat guano burning, and he grimaces comically, grasps his throat theatrically, and falls over gasping for breath. (Ham it up, why doncha, kid!) Rinty, with great presence of mind, puts out the fire by scratching dirt enthusiastically onto the boy. Must be a fan of acting…

I see kibbles.

Scene flash! The dog stands heroically on the edge of a cliff, with a lake far below. A gang of baddies is behind him. Jump, Rinty, jump! He sails down into the water magnificently, easily swims to the rocky shore, and hides behind a big boulder. The dog sneaks up the mountain and stands behind the outlaws as they peer down into the water. He knocks them one by one off the cliff. Then he barks, “Arf arf WOOF!”*

* “Time to trash the cretins!”

I still see kibbles.

Next! The hero is about to be lynched for murdering the boy. The hero must be a fan of acting, too. The heroine chases the villain with some fancy footwork. Then she needs rescued! And here comes the hero and Rinty! The Indians do enough ki-yiing and yipping and carrying on to make a person deaf. Two of the Indians yell in a Brooklyn accent…They’re not going down in the HOIST, are they? They should have listened to Rinty! The hero is threatened by a gun, locked in a burning jail. The boy rushes to his rescue and falls in the middle of the road, while a runaway buggy team comes round the bend. Now THAT’S suspense!

Yikes, there’s more! There’s the boy! He’s on the mine conveyer belt! He’s gonna get turned into steak tartare! The mine machinery starts and clanks and roars. Which way did he go? Here I lose track of their comings and goings in a labyrinth of murky motive and dubious camera work. This represents the warrior self and its demands on the psyche. Are the Indians in search for themselves or are they ruffians in search of a quick buck?

When the hero kisses the heroine, the kid hides his eyes and the dog’s eyes too. The dog peeks from under his hand. GHASTLY. * aw, sweet… bucko

WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: A ride down the flume! Yee-hah!…Next!

7 comments to The Good, the Bad and the Rinty; or, Another of the Worst Silver-Screen Animal Hero Westerns

  • flapjack42

    “Ar-woof OOoooo!”*
    * this movie is a real howl!

  • Actually the first Rin Tin Tin did not run any dispatches through enemy lines during WWI – he was a puppy of only 8 months old when WWI ended. Rin Tin Tin III and Lee Duncan did work at Camp Hahn in California helping train dogs for WWII.

  • I loved all the Rin Tin Tin shows/movies. Fond memories…

  • flapjack42

    Thanks for the correction, Miss Hereford! I appreciate it!
    Here’s why I thought that internety story could be true.

    I had an obedience dog years ago. Her name was Rocket Scientist. She was an Australian Shepherd/ Border Collie with a dash of Australian Terrier. Brindle and white, around 70 pounds, with an endearing bunch of silky white catfish whiskers on the end of her nose. She loved to herd horses and by the time she was 8 weeks, she put the 30-horse herd where SHE wanted, not where the horses wanted. A dominant and individualistic worker, before she was 6 months old, she had saved my husband’s life twice and mine three times.Maybe more. She was my right hand.
    Now I have Lefty Lucy, another dominant and tireless worker. Australian Shepherd/ Norwegian Elkhound, wolf gray, and at least 100 pounds.By the time she was six months, she had saved my husband’s life twice and defended the farm against bear, coyote, wolf, and mountain lion. The middle of last month, she racked up another save, at 8 years. This time it was me. Here’s the local e-paper’s story. I am lucky to escape with a few loose teeth and some bad bruises.Ah, I can’t get it to work. I’ll send it to Bucko, my other hero! She’ll post it…

    LOve our dog!
    Please tell us a real life story about German Shepherds, they are incredible dogs.
    Anybody else got true dog stories? Let’s hear em!

  • bucko

    Thanks, Miss Hereford! Will make a note on the entry. Flapjack42, your story is epic. Weekend Cowgirl, glad this brings back some memories!

  • Wonderful post! Tons of useful info. I raise aussies in Okeechobee Florida. Aussies are extremely intelligent and hard working. They always want to work all day then relax with the family all night. We definitely love them.

  • bucko

    You’ve sold me–not that I can get a dog in my mini apt. But Flapjack42 now…well, that bucko might need a toy aussie…

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