Alan Ladd and his 11-year-old son, David, team up in this warm-hearted story as father and son John and David Chandler. During the Civil War, David loses all power of speech when he sees his home destroyed and his mother killed by Union Army cannon fire in the battle of Atlanta.
Afterwards, John travels with David throughout the country to find a cure for the boy, always accompanied by their faithful dog. In an Illinois town, the no-good sheep-herder Burleigh brothers (Pittman and Stanton) attempt to steal the dog, leading to a fight in which John is knocked unconscious.
Later, he is arrested on the basis of the brothers' false testimony, but tough widow Linnett Moore (de Havilland) takes pity on the Chandlers, and pays John's fine in exchange for his labor on the large farm she has been running alone. When Davis is hounded by the boys in the town because of his
muteness, John sells their dog to raise the money needed for an expensive treatment at a Minnesota clinic. But the treatment proves a failure, and the Chandlers return to town to find their dog in the hands of Harry Burleigh (Dean Jagger), the sheep-herder father of John's false accusers. He
continually beats the dog, who won't work for anyone but John and David. John demands that the dog be returned, triggering a gunfight between him and Burleighs. During the fight, one of the sons is about to sneak up on John, but young David manages to regain his voice and shout a warning to his
father. Brilliant performances (especially David Ladd's) and the unusual characterization of de Havilland's hardened, loner widow turn this somewhat overly sentimental boy-and-his-dog story directed by Michael Curtiz into a compassionate tale of individual strife. David Ladd learned sign language
to add realism to his character, and de Havilland also did considerable research to portray the difficult life of her farmer character. An added bonus is the fine color photography of the Utah landscape by veteran Ted McCord. Surprisingly, THE PROUD REBEL was only moderately successful at the box
office, taking in $2.5 million.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Alan Ladd and his 11-year-old son, David, team up in this warm-hearted story as father and son John and David Chandler. During the Civil War, David loses all power of speech when he sees his home destroyed and his mother killed by Union Army cannon fire in… (more)