Adventures of Rusty The (1945)
The first in a series of eight “Rusty” films about a German Shepherd dog and the boy who owns him featuring Ted Donaldson as Danny Mitchell; Ace the Wonder Dog plays the title role in this one. It’s a family drama directed by Paul Burnford with a screenplay from Aubrey Wisberg that was based on a story by Al Martin. The cast includes two Hollywood veterans well past their prime Margaret Lindsay and Conrad Nagel; Gloria Holden plays Lindsay’s friend Louise.
Danny is upset because his widower father (Nagel) is remarrying even though Ann (Lindsay) is someone the boy likes having known her while his mother was alive. A stereotypical conflict ensues especially because Danny’s other best friend his pet dog was killed on the wedding day making the boy resent his stepmother even more for the loneliness caused by his father’s lack of time for him. So Danny attempts to befriend his neighbor Will Nelson’s (Robert Williams) mean and vicious German Shepherd which had been trained by the Nazis during World War II; Rusty was brought home to the states by Nelson after his service in the army. When Danny learns that Mr. Nelson may have the dog put down he begs his parents to allow him to adopt it. After her initial caution for Danny’s safety Ann believes that the boy should be allowed to keep the dog. In fact even though Ann has been kind unusually understanding and more than patient with Danny’s lack of acceptance of her she seeks the help of a professional psychiatrist named Dr. Banning (Addison Richards) hoping that he may advise her about how to deal with the boy. Ironically Danny had seen the doctor for advice about how to train Rusty to be less vicious and more appreciative of his efforts.
Danny begins to treat Rusty with a combination of indifference and praise for good behavior at the same time that Ann attempts to do the same hoping that the boy will come to him but the tactic doesn’t work for either of them. Instead Rusty chews threw his rope leash and runs away where he happens upon two German spies (Arno Frey and Eddie Parker) who take charge of him to steal for them. When Danny and his friends go searching for Rusty the dog helps the boys to miraculously capture the luger wielding Germans. Meanwhile to solve her problem Ann decides to leave husband Hugh and his boy. After seeing how depressed this makes his father Danny finds her at Louise’s and begs her to come home by promising that he’ll never upset her again. She returns home so that the three (four if you count Rusty) of them can live happily ever after (and all go fishing together).