TRACKED BY THE POLICE, directed by enthusiastic 30s Warners hack Ray Enright in his early days, stars Jason Robards Snr (looking just like Jnr) and, much more importantly, Rin Tin Tin, the world’s best dog, in the role of Satan. (Don’t worry, that’s just his name.) The drama revolves around the building of a massive damn, the sort of engineering project for which you might normally think German shepherds aren’t particularly well equipped, but how wrong you would be.
We also get a flashback to Rinty’s days as a Red Cross Dog in the trenches of WWI (waitaminute — Red Cross Dog?), which seems like a deliberate echo of the showbiz hound’s true-life story (read Sunnyside for an imaginative retelling by Glen David Gold) — Robards gets shot, and then Rin Tin Tin cralws on his belly through No Dog’s Land, finds the wounded soldier, and applies pressure. Throughout the movie, we have to accept that RTT is a dog of human intelligence and supercanine ability. His love interest, Nanette, being just a regular dog, must be pretty hard for him to put up with.
My copy stems from an old Grapevine Video release, which means it looks like it was telecined off somebody’s kitchen door during a thunderstorm, but even through eighty years of accumulated print damage and technological incompetence, Rinty’s star charisma shines through.
At the film’s climax, our heroic mutt, already wounded in the paw, must choose between love and duty — to rescue Nanette, who has been wrapped in chains and thrown in the river by BAD MEN, or to rescue the leading lady Virginia Brown Faire, whose been blinded with pepper and is dangling from a rope. After already subjecting my strained emotions to TOY STORY 3, I was far from sure of being able to bear the tension.
I told Fiona about it afterwards. “And did he choose duty?” she asked. “Yes.” “And did he get love anyway?” “Yes.” And she nodded, like she knew all along.
Protector of women…
MORTAL ENEMY of the disabled!