A Dog of Flanders


1h 36m 1960

Brief Synopsis

A Dutch boy's loyal dog helps him fight for his dream of becoming an artist.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Family
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Mar 1960
Production Company
Radnitz Productions; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Netherlands and United States
Location
Amsterdam,Holland; Antwerp--Cathedral of Our Lady,Holland; Belgium
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Dog of Flanders by Ouida (New York, 1872).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In a rural village outside Antwerp in nineteenth century Belgium, Nello Dass, a poor orphan who helps his infirm grandfather Jehan deliver milk, dreams of becoming an artist like his idol, Peter Paul Rubens. One day, a drunken peddler brutally beats his dog and leaves him to die by the side of the road. While returning from their milk route, Nello and Jehan come upon the nearly dead dog and Nello begs to bring the dog home and nurse him back to health. Jehan reluctantly agrees, and Nello decides to name the canine Patrasche, after Rubens' dog. Alois Cogez, the miller's little daughter, gives Nello a bone for his dog, but the Dass family is so poor that grandfather insists on flavoring the soup with it first. Alois' father, a prosperous businessman, disapproves of his daughter's friendship with the "ragamuffin" Nello. Under Nello's loving care, Patrasche thrives and gradually loses his wariness of humans. While delivering milk to Antwerp one day, Jehan stops at the diamond mart, intending to apprentice Nello to a diamond merchant he knows there. The merchant has drowned, however, and the cold-hearted merchant to whom Jehan speaks refuses to help the boy. In his grandfather's absence, Nello draws a sketch of a fountain in the town square, attracting the attention of artist Piet Van Gelder. The gruff Piet, frustrated by his own work, at first scoffs at the boy's ambition and then relents and gives him advice on technique. Concerned about Nello's future, the practical Jehan admonishes the boy to give up his dream of becoming an artist. That night, the cold-hearted landlord comes to collect the rent and offers to buy Jehan's brass bed, the last remnant of his happy marriage, but Jehan refuses his offer. The next morning, Patrasche eagerly climbs into the milk cart harness and Jehan, hobbled by old age and pain, stays behind at home. In Antwerp, Nello visits the cathedral that houses Rubens' triptych of the crucifixion, but is turned away by the priest for lack of the one franc viewing fee. When he leaves the cathedral, Nello finds the peddler trying to steal Patrasche, but Piet comes to their rescue. In his skirmish with the peddler, Nello injures his hand and Piet takes him to his studio for treatment. There, Nello tells Piet of his plans to enter a painting in the children's Christmas contest. When the boy questions him about his paintings, Piet becomes angry and throws him out after giving him some pens and drawing paper. Corrie, Piet's long-suffering model, tries to comfort the boy. Soon after, the peddler returns to beat Nello and steal Patrasche. When Alois sees the peddler dragging the reluctant dog, she calls to her father to come to Nello's defense. Enraged by the peddler's brutality, Cogez turns the growling Patrasche loose, and while fleeing the angry dog, the peddler runs into a windmill blade and dies. Alarmed, Cogez orders Nello to leave the mill and never return. Finally recognizing Nello's talent, Jehan gives the boy his few remaining possessions to sell so that he can buy some art supplies. In Antwerp, Nello visits Piet's studio, where Piet insults Corrie by declaring he will never marry her. After Corrie runs crying from the room, Piet tutors Nello on how to blend colors and gives him some paints. When Corrie returns, Piet confesses his love to her and they embrace. With his new paints, Nello decides to draw his grandfather and his dog, but once the portrait is finished, Nello discovers that the old man has died while posing in his chair. With his last coins, Nello pays for his grandfather's funeral. Having lost all his milk customers, Nello is unable to pay the rent and the landlord barters Jehan's beloved bed for one month's reprieve. Now destitute, Nello's one last hope is to win the contest money. Cold and hungry, Nello begs for food for Patrasche and then hurries to hear the result of the contest. After his painting loses, Nello, desperate, goes to Alois and pleads with her to take care of Patrasche because he can no longer afford to feed him. After Nello tearfully departs, Patrasche whines at the door for his master. Soon after, Alois' parents return home and, apprised of the situation, Cogez decides to find Nello and offer him an apprenticeship. Just then, Piet knocks at the door and, holding Nello's painting, declares that he wants to apprentice the boy. Alois then suggests that Patrasche will lead them to the missing Nello. On Christmas Eve, in the midst of a snowstorm, Nello visits the cathedral, and the priest relents and allows him to view the painting at last. As Nello gazes skyward toward the triptych, Patrasche, by Alois, Piet and Corrie run into the cathedral and hug him.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Family
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Mar 1960
Production Company
Radnitz Productions; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Netherlands and United States
Location
Amsterdam,Holland; Antwerp--Cathedral of Our Lady,Holland; Belgium
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Dog of Flanders by Ouida (New York, 1872).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

A Dog of Flanders (1960)


A Dog of Flanders (1959) tells the classic story of a boy and his dog. The film is based on the 1872 novel by Ouida and is the fourth screen version of the story. The original adaptation was a 1914 short. Next came a 1924 silent starring Jackie Coogan. The first sound treatment of A Dog of Flanders was produced by RKO in 1935 and in 1959, another remake appeared starring David Ladd as the young dog owner Nello. Donald Crisp played his grandfather and Theodore Bikel took the role of reclusive artist Piet. The film was directed by James B. Clark who would go on to direct several other animal pictures such as Misty (1961) and Flipper (1963).

Clark actually got his start as an editor on films such as Sun Valley Serenade (1941), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), I Was a Male War Bride (1949) and An Affair to Remember (1957). He was Oscar® nominated for his editing work on 1941's How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford and starring Donald Crisp. Clark made the jump to director for the small screen first; he directed a number of television episodes of Lassie and My Friend Flicka. His first feature assignment came in 1957 with the military drama Under Fire starring Rex Reason. Clark's work as a features director was limited; he directed fewer than fifteen films compared with his fifty-plus editing credits. The best of these starred child actors and animals. Along with A Dog of Flanders, Misty and Flipper, he made: The Sad Horse (1959) that told the story of friendship between a horse and a dog; the children's adventure Island of the Blue Dolphins (1964); and My Side of the Mountain (1969) about a thirteen year old naturalist.

A Dog of Flanders was only the fifth film Clark directed and just the second of his animal flicks but already he seemed to have perfected the child-animal formula. The child, in this case, was played by relative newcomer David Ladd. He had appeared in only three films before A Dog of Flanders. Ladd made his debut in the 1957 western The Big Land starring his father, Alan Ladd. For his next film, The Proud Rebel (1958) again with his father, Ladd won a Golden Globe for Best Juvenile Performance. In 1959, he made both The Sad Horse and A Dog of Flanders for Clark. The two would work together again on Misty.

As for the animal star of A Dog of Flanders, he too sported some fairly impressive credentials. Spike the dog was rescued from an animal shelter by Frank Weatherwax (part of the legendary Weatherwax family of animal trainers). Spike would become a star as Old Yeller (1957) but it was a part he almost didn't win. Gentle and used to playing with children, Spike had to be trained to act vicious. He also required some cosmetic work to look the part; there were some dark spots around his nose that had to be lightened before Disney offered him the job as Old Yeller. In addition to A Dog of Flanders, Spike went on to appear in the TV series The Westerner. His son, Rontu, would later find work in Clark's Island of the Blue Dolphins.

The 1959 version of A Dog of Flanders would not be Hollywood's last word on the story. The film was remade for a fifth time in 1999, this time starring Jack Warden as the grandfather and Jon Voight as the artist.

Producer: Robert B. Radnitz
Director: James B. Clark
Screenplay: Ouida, Ted Sherdeman
Cinematography: Otto Heller
Film Editing: Benjamin Laird
Art Direction: Nico Van Baarle
Music: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Cast: David Ladd (Nello Daas), Donald Crisp (Jehan Daas), Theodore Bikel (Piet van Gelder), Max Croiset (Mr. Cogez), Monique Ahrens (Corrie), Siobhan Taylor (Alois).
C-96m.

by Stephanie Thames
A Dog Of Flanders (1960)

A Dog of Flanders (1960)

A Dog of Flanders (1959) tells the classic story of a boy and his dog. The film is based on the 1872 novel by Ouida and is the fourth screen version of the story. The original adaptation was a 1914 short. Next came a 1924 silent starring Jackie Coogan. The first sound treatment of A Dog of Flanders was produced by RKO in 1935 and in 1959, another remake appeared starring David Ladd as the young dog owner Nello. Donald Crisp played his grandfather and Theodore Bikel took the role of reclusive artist Piet. The film was directed by James B. Clark who would go on to direct several other animal pictures such as Misty (1961) and Flipper (1963). Clark actually got his start as an editor on films such as Sun Valley Serenade (1941), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), I Was a Male War Bride (1949) and An Affair to Remember (1957). He was Oscar® nominated for his editing work on 1941's How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford and starring Donald Crisp. Clark made the jump to director for the small screen first; he directed a number of television episodes of Lassie and My Friend Flicka. His first feature assignment came in 1957 with the military drama Under Fire starring Rex Reason. Clark's work as a features director was limited; he directed fewer than fifteen films compared with his fifty-plus editing credits. The best of these starred child actors and animals. Along with A Dog of Flanders, Misty and Flipper, he made: The Sad Horse (1959) that told the story of friendship between a horse and a dog; the children's adventure Island of the Blue Dolphins (1964); and My Side of the Mountain (1969) about a thirteen year old naturalist. A Dog of Flanders was only the fifth film Clark directed and just the second of his animal flicks but already he seemed to have perfected the child-animal formula. The child, in this case, was played by relative newcomer David Ladd. He had appeared in only three films before A Dog of Flanders. Ladd made his debut in the 1957 western The Big Land starring his father, Alan Ladd. For his next film, The Proud Rebel (1958) again with his father, Ladd won a Golden Globe for Best Juvenile Performance. In 1959, he made both The Sad Horse and A Dog of Flanders for Clark. The two would work together again on Misty. As for the animal star of A Dog of Flanders, he too sported some fairly impressive credentials. Spike the dog was rescued from an animal shelter by Frank Weatherwax (part of the legendary Weatherwax family of animal trainers). Spike would become a star as Old Yeller (1957) but it was a part he almost didn't win. Gentle and used to playing with children, Spike had to be trained to act vicious. He also required some cosmetic work to look the part; there were some dark spots around his nose that had to be lightened before Disney offered him the job as Old Yeller. In addition to A Dog of Flanders, Spike went on to appear in the TV series The Westerner. His son, Rontu, would later find work in Clark's Island of the Blue Dolphins. The 1959 version of A Dog of Flanders would not be Hollywood's last word on the story. The film was remade for a fifth time in 1999, this time starring Jack Warden as the grandfather and Jon Voight as the artist. Producer: Robert B. Radnitz Director: James B. Clark Screenplay: Ouida, Ted Sherdeman Cinematography: Otto Heller Film Editing: Benjamin Laird Art Direction: Nico Van Baarle Music: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter Cast: David Ladd (Nello Daas), Donald Crisp (Jehan Daas), Theodore Bikel (Piet van Gelder), Max Croiset (Mr. Cogez), Monique Ahrens (Corrie), Siobhan Taylor (Alois). C-96m. by Stephanie Thames

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The following written acknowledgment appears at the end of the film: " A Dog of Flanders was filmed entirely on location in Holland and Belgium. We wish to thank all the people of those two countries whose kindness and cooperation made this possible. We further wish to express our sincere gratitude to Father Weleerwaarde Herr Vanheirkon for permitting us to film the interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp." The New York Times review misspelled several of the actors' names, including the dog's. A Dog of Flanders won the Grand Prix at the 1960 Venice Children's Film Festival. For information about earlier films based on Ouida's novel, please see the entry for the 1935 RKO film A Dog of Flanders in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40. Subsequent projects based on the novel include an animated television series which was broadcast in Japan in 1975, and the 1999 Woodbridge Films production A Dog of Flanders, directed by Kevin Brodie and starring Jeremy James Kissner and Jack Warden.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959