Cast & Crew
Rene Dumont, a 14-year-old orphan who lives in the woods of northern Canada, is hired to exercise Big Red, a champion Irish setter that belongs to James Haggin. When the dog becomes so attached to the boy that he refuses to take orders from anyone else, Haggin separates them. In a desperate effort to return to Rene, Big Red is seriously injured, and Haggin decides to have the animal put to sleep. Rene takes the dog away, nurses him back to health, and then reluctantly returns him to Haggin, who offers Rene his old job. When Rene refuses, Haggin, hurt by the boy's rejection, ships Big Red and his mate, Mollie, to Montreal for sale. The two dogs escape from the train and disappear into the pine forest. Rene finds them in a cave where Mollie has given birth to a litter of puppies. Meanwhile, Haggin realizes his growing affection for Rene and pursues them, but he is thrown from his horse and trapped in a rocky gorge. Big Red and Rene arrive in time to save him from a menacing mountain lion. As they head for home, Haggin offers to adopt Rene, and the boy, knowing that he will never again be separated from Big Red, gladly accepts.
Teddy Burns Goulet
Champion Red Aye "scraps"
Robert O. Cook
Marvin Aubrey Davis
William R. Koehler
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Grant K. Smith
Erwin L. Verity
Arthur J. Vitarelli
Big Red was directed by Norman Tokar in his feature film debut, with the screenplay adapted by Louis Pelletier. The film was shot in Technicolor, with interiors filmed at the Disney Studios in Burbank and exteriors at locations in the Big Bear Lake area in the mountains near Los Angeles. The company also did location shooting around Quebec, Canada, including La Malbaie, then known as Murray Bay. Composers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, who would write the scores for many Disney classics, wrote the theme song for the film, "Mon Amour Perdu - Big Red's Theme".
Big Red had its premiere in Los Angeles on June 6, 1962, later opening in New York in early September. As part of the promotional campaign for the film, Disney teamed up with Friskies dog food to create a free mail-in manual Friskies New Approach to Training Your Dog , featuring Pidgeon and Scraps on the cover, which consumers could get by sending in four labels from Friskies dog food. "Now your dog can be as well trained as Big Red himself!" The manual promised "an entirely new system of training based on the discoveries of a leading Hollywood trainer of movie dogs" in only 24 pages.
Despite beating out hundreds of other boys to play René, Big Red would be Gilles Payant's only film. He died at the age of 65 in 2012.
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The Internet Movie Database
Advertisement for Friskies Dog Food Life 6 Jul 62
Location scenes filmed in Quebec.