UltimateDisney.com's Top 30 Live Action Disney Movies Countdown
8. Old Yeller (1957)

When I watched Old Yeller a few years ago, I had not seen it in for many years. I had completely forgotten how powerful it was and was completely blown away by it's brilliance! One of Disney's finest! This film has stood the test of time incredibly well and, in fact, is probably only more powerful now than when it was first released. Superbly scripted, sensitively directed, and loaded with power packed performances! Simplistic and sincere, honest and real. Old Yeller plays like a breath of fresh air, making most movies of today look like cinematic smog.

Perfectly cast, with fine, first rate performances. Tommy Kirk gives the standout performance of his career! Completely convincing, he brings an authenticity and genuineness to his character, in this most challenging of roles, as he runs the gamut of human emotions. Dorothy McGuire is perfect as Katie Coates, bringing a gentleness and warmth to the role of the mother. Not to be over-shadowed though, Kevin Corcoran gives an outstandingly astounding performance, especially for one so young, as the youngest member of the Coates family, Arliss. Jeff York, as always, is a delight, injecting some light-hearted humor into his role. And while Fess Parker may not have a great deal of on screen time, his performance is played with great sincerity, strength, and warmth. Rounding out the cast, with fine performances, are Beverly Washburn and Chuck Conners. Not forgetting scene-stealing Spike the dog, who is totally charming and completely disarming in the title role.

More than just a story about a boy and his dog, this is a story about life and living. About the highs and the lows, of good times and bad, of loving and losing. For me, the most memorable moment of the film is the scene towards the end, between Fess Parker and Tommy Kirk, between father and son. To quote from the film, "Well, now and then, for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off, and knock him flat. Slam him again' the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted. But it's not all like that. A lot of it's mighty fine. And you can't afford to waste the good part frettin' about the bad. That makes it all bad." To me, this sums up the heart of the movie, and is one of the most touching and moving moments in motion pictures.

This is certainly one of Disney's best movies of all time. Endearingly enduring, it remains great wholesome family viewing. A must see for everyone!

-David Rosengreen

Old Yeller is generally thought to be--correctly so--a great boy-and-his-dog movie. It is also a powerful coming-of-age story, dealing with issues of love and loss that still resonate today. It's not embellished with special effects or superficial comic-relief characters; it's always honest, simple and real.

Set in 1869 Texas, it is the story of Travis Coates (Tommy Kirk), whose father has gone on a three-month cattle drive, leaving him responsible for taking care of the farm he shares with his mother (Dorothy McGuire) and little brother, Arliss (Kevin Corcoran). a "big, ugly, yeller" dog arrives on the scene and immediately wreaks havoc by scaring the mule and destroying the fence. Despite these calamitous beginnings, eventually a bond develops between the 15-year-old and the four-legged, thievin' rascal, who ultimately proves himself to be a great protector and a good friend. Eventually, Yeller develops hydrophobia as a result of defending the family against a rabid wolf. Travis must face the most heartbreaking moment of his young life and shoot the dog whom he has come to love so much.

Tommy Kirk's performance is the best of his career, showcasing what a great, underrated talent he is. It's too bad that he never got a role this meaty again. Even the sequel, Savage Sam, didn't provide him with the emotional depths of the original film. As for the rest of the cast, they are superb, especially McGuire and Parker. The latter's scene with Travis at Old Yeller's grave is simply wonderful.

It's a shame that Disney hasn't exerted more effort to promote the DVD. I was recently made aware that none of the kids who live in my neighborhood had ever seen, nor even heard of, this masterpiece. I took it upon myself to show it to them. Not only were they were riveted by it, but they keep asking to see it again! Take note, Disney management.

-Glenn Freeze

It's hard to really appreciate Old Yeller amidst the cliche dog movies so rampant today. But this is the film that started the trend, and is certainly the best of the bunch. It's not just about a nice old dog - it's about a boy who learns to stand back up after life knocks him down. It's the most sincere, genuine, good-natured film I've ever seen and likely ever will see.

-Jack Seiley

Old Yeller is a very simple, yet heartwarming and touching movie. Everyone will develop strong feelings for the dog named Old Yeller. The movie is fairly short and is a good length for young children. With 2 boys and a dog as the central characters, the movie resonates well with boys.

-Jim Miller

Old Yeller is one of Disney's most heartfelt, endearing movies. It's a classic boy-and-his-dog story that is filled with warmth, humor, and tragedy. (Yes, Old Yeller dies in the end.) But don't let that deter you from showing this movie to the kids, because it's out of sorrow that we grow and rise to new challenges. Tommy Kirk gives the best performance of his career as he meticulously conveys the whole range of emotions. The Texas pioneer farm settings are beautiful and accurate. This was the second Disney film directed by Robert Stevenson who would go on to become Disney's most prolific director. For anyone who has ever loved a dog, this movie is a must, for it will touch you like no other movie has.

-Mark Probst

Old Yeller is the ultimate boy and his dog movie. What else is there to say? It's sort of a coming of age story. Old Yeller is Chuck "The Rifleman" Connor's dog. And after being knocked from his horse by some rocks that are thrown at him, Chuck decides it would be a good idea to trade Yeller to the boys for a good meal. And Yeller was a good dog. Yeller's mischievious, loyal, playful, and protective; everything that a doggy dogg should be. Travis, the main boy of the story, at first hates the dog but then has a change of heart to love the dog. So, by the end, Travis has to face some serious stuff when Yeller gets ill. But life goes on and we love dogs.

-James Mar

DVD Details
There were no complaints to be had with Disney's wonderful double-disc Vault Disney release of Old Yeller, but in 2005, it was discontinued to make way for the Old Yeller: 2-Movie Collection, a 2-disc set containing all the previous DVD's extras (except the wonderful cast audio commentary) plus the 1963 sequel Savage Sam.
Buy Old Yeller & Savage Sam: 2-Movie Collection DVD
Buy Old Yeller (2-Disc Vault Disney)
Read our Old Yeller: 2-Movie Collection DVD Review
Read Old Yeller: Vault Disney DVD Review
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