A lovable stray dog finds his way to the frontier home of the Coates family. Jim (Fess Parker – from the television show Daniel Boone) and Katie (Dorothy McGuire – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Swiss Family Robinson) Coates have two sons, Travis (Tommy Kirk – The Shaggy Dog, The Absent Minded Professor) and Arliss (Kevin Corcoran – Babes in Toyland, Pollyanna). Jim leaves home to go on a cattle drive and the dog, named Old Yeller, proves himself to be trustworthy by saving the boys from peril. Old Yeller's own health is threatened and the entire Coates family has to come together in a true test of their strength as a family.
Old Yeller is truly a classic in every sense of the word. It is a film that has been watched by many generations and will continue to be watched for many to come. This is a film that the entire family can watch and enjoy and is thought to be one of the greatest family films ever made. It will be a film that you smile and cry through. I don't know if some will find this film 'old fashioned', but its universal lessons about life, death, loyalty, and the experience of owning a pet are timeless to me. Director Robert Stevenson (The Shaggy D.A., Kidnapped) has made a realistic looking and feeling film that was made on a small budget which you would never know looking at it. If you and your family have not seen it before it is definitely something you should all experience together.
In the sequel to Old Yeller, the story continues and introduces Old Yeller's son Savage Sam. The brothers Travis and Arliss and their neighbour Lisbeth (Marta Kristen – Beach Blanket Bingo, Lost In Space) are kidnapped and it is Sam who has to try to come to their rescue.
Being a sequel to one of the best family movies ever made is tough to live up to and in some respects no film could. It is almost better to not associate the two films and watch Savage Sam on its own. Modern day viewers might also have a problem with the racism in the film towards Native Americans. It is certainly not a proud moment in film history. Savage Sam is not so much the star of this film as Old Yeller was; it is mostly about the Coates boys. Director Norman Tokar (The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Cat From Outer Space) has wisely made a film that is very different from Old Yeller and yet has made another excellent family film involving an animal.
-Sneak peeks: Lady and the Tramp, Antarctica: The Journey Home – Glory Road, Toy Story 2, and Valiant
-Bone Trouble: Original theatrical animated short
-Old Yeller: Remembering a Classic
-Lost Treasures – "Ranch of the Golden Oak"
-1957 Disney Studio Album Audio Excerpt
-Conversations with Tommy Kirk
-Old Yeller Production Archive: Production galleries, Gallery, Production stills, Biographies, Publishing, Fan Letters, Invitations, Pressbook, Screenplay excerpt, Lobby cards, Posters, Merchandise, Radio spots, Trailers and TV spots, News segment: Old Yeller memorial, Audio archives, Foley demonstration, Story album, and Best doggone dog in the world