Film: The Accidental Trio [Jin tian bu hui jia]
Director: BAI Jingrui
Performers: Zhen Zhen, Ko Chun-hsiung, Lei Ming
Breed featured: Japanese Spitz or large Pomeranian
Production information: Central Motion Picture Corporation, 1969 (Taiwan)
Walking the dog is an excuse for a henpecked husband to wander beyond the confines of his madhouse. He says he wants some time to himself, but this is not actually the case — the canine companion is just less of a nag than his wife and allows him the peace and quiet that he can’t find at home.
The dog is unnamed, barely visible, and is not a character at all within the story. However, the dog-walking elderly couple opens and closes the movie, establishing a visual frame of reference through which to understand the domestic tumult of the narrative. Besides, it is rare to see pet dogs in Taiwanese films, so I had to mention him.
Film: Blood Diamond
Director: Edward Zwick
Performers: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly
Breed featured: Rhodesian Ridgeback
Production information: The Bedford Falls, Virtual Studios, 2006 (USA)
A single Ridgeback appears on a South African plantation owned by corrupt military commander. The dog is a figurative match for Leo’s character, who also has Rhodesian roots and has been trained to serve as a running dog in the diamond smuggling trade.
Director: George Stevens
Performers: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Brandon deWilde, Van Heflin, Jack Palance
Breed featured: Wire-haired hound
Production information: Paramount, 1953 (USA)
This is the most significant of the dogs on this random list. Though unnamed, he’s actually a pretty interesting bit character that straddles both animal and human (specifically, child-like) impulses. During the burial of his owner, he tries to leap into his grave. This scene apparently required the trainer to crawl down into the hole to capture the dog’s attention, because otherwise he couldn’t be prompted to look in the right direction.
Eventually, the mutt latches onto the young boy, played by Brandon deWilde, and joins him as an observer and silent judge of the violence that unfolds.
This is not the first film in which Brandon deWilde is prominently featured alongside a dog. His more famous boy-and-dog movie role was of course Goodbye, My Lady, in which he becomes the chance owner of a Basenji. Likewise, but in less elaborate fashion, the dog here signposts his induction/education into the sacrificial rhetoric of masculine society.