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Benji (1974)



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Benji, of a series of Joe Camp films, is one of the most beloved of modern screen canines. Certainly Benji has been a favorite of mine since early childhood. I always preferred Benji to Lassie, but it wasn't until I grew up that I thought to wonder why. Perhaps it's because Benji is a stray mutt, a loner, who has to make his own way in the world and tries to better the lives of those around him in the process. That was, and is, more compelling to me than a purebred dog who is eternally saving his dumber human family members from falling over themselves.

Of course, Benji does his fair share of saving humans in this movie, too, but it feels less forced. Benji's routine is much like the Tramp's in Lady and the Tramp. He's a free spirit, but a lovable one that has worked his way into the hearts of several who provide food and attention. Among them are two children, who get kidnapped, and Benji naturally saves the day. The film primarily focuses on Benji, not the human characters, and even if Benji is certainly a romanticized movie dog rather than a real one, it does as well as any movie has at getting inside a dog's head.

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