Before Lassie there was Rover!


Even if they are not human actors, animals sometimes have an important place to play in movies. They can represent friendship, danger or simple company. With her blogathon The Animal in Films Blogathon, Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood allows us to celebrate our furry friends and what they brought to the art of films.


For the occasion, I decided to focus on the British silent short Rescued by Rover directed by Lewin Fitzhamon in 1905.

The story is simple, a baby (Barbara Hepworth) is kidnapped by an alcoholic bigger (Mrs Sebastian Smith) during a ballad in a park with her nurse (May Clark). The family dog, Rover (Blair) will save her.

Of course, Rescued by Rover was made long before Lassie, but just like the famous dog, Rover is a Colley. The film is often considered to be the first fiction film made in the UK and the first fiction film to use a dog in its story. On its release, “Rover” became a popular dog name. The film was written by Margaret Hepworth and it’s her own dog, Blair, who was used for the role of Rover. Blair itself is considered to be the first canine film star. Blair was also seen in the 1903’s version of Alice in Wonderland, Rover Takes a Call (1905) and The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper (1908).


The film is, of course, a family affair, not only because it stars Margaret Hepworth’s dog, but also because it stars the writer herself in the role of the mother, her husband Cecil Hepworth in the role of the father and their daughter, Barbara, in the role of the baby. Were the actors paid? Well, an article from the BFI informs us that Rescued by Rover was made on a seven pounds thirteen shillings and sixpence budget. So, probably not. 😉

Rover is, of course, a very brilliant dog. It has a perfect flair and it doesn’t take it long to find the baby. Rover can open doors (which turns out to be very useful in this situation), swim (well, like most dogs) and remembers its way.


When we watch this film, we become quite fond of Rover (or Blair) as it seems to be the perfect dog. It doesn’t even bite the kidnapper! What a gentle dog. What an absolutely adorable pet! Of course, another thing I love about this film is the baby. Seriously, even if we don’t see her very often in the film, little Barbara Hepworth really is one of the cutest babies I’ve seen on screen. With her little white dress and her round cheeks, she is nothing but absolutely sweet. We are glad Rover is here to save her! The movies stars with a medium shot of her and Rover.


Narratively, Rescued by Rover remains a very simple film. Where it becomes interesting, it’s on the technical aspects, particularly the editing. The film contains a total of 22 shots, which was rare at the time, especially for a five minutes feature. Movies were more often made in a more “theatrical” approach where the camera was static, filming the subject in a long shot or medium long shot. But here, the characters move out from the space where they initially were, and the story has a certain physical evolution. Also, we don’t need much information to understand what’s happening. When we see Rover running in the street, we immediately know it’s on its way to save the baby.

So, Rescued by Rover is a simple, but important film. The most interesting fact on how it influenced history is that, the film inspired D.W Griffith, who also used parallel cutting in his films. And that’s still often used today. Kidnapping also was the main subject of his first film, The Adventures of Dollie (1908)

If you haven’t seen Rescued by Rover yet, I highly recommend you to do so. It’s very short and worthy. You can watch it here:

Many thanks to Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for hosting this very original blogathon!

Of course, I invite you to read the other entries as well:

The Animals in Films Blogathon

See you!


rescued 2
Rover (Blair) and Barbara Hepworth in The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper

Put your Dance Shoes and Watch “Footloose”!

When Bonnie from Classic Reel Girl announced that she was hosting the Gotta Dance! Blogathon, celebrating dance in the world of cinema, I, of course, had to participate to this highly appealing event. You see, apart from my passion from classic films, I also have a passion for dance. I love watching dance television shows, dancing myself (I did two years of dance when I was in CEGEP). When there’s music around, I can’t help swinging. And, of course, I love dance movies because they are the perfect combination of my two passions.
In this field, when I think of a movie that makes me want to dance, the first one that comes to my mind is Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984) Of course, the 80s were a great decade for dance movies with movies such as the one previously named, Flashdance or Dirty Dancing. Of course, dance in films already existed with the Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly of this world, but here I’m mentioning films were the only performing art is dance (not dance and singing). They are movies who really celebrate dance, movies about about dance. It’s the central subject.
Footloose takes place in the boring little town of Beaumont. Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) and his mother Ethel (Frances Lee McCain) have left Chicago to come live in the city with Ren’s aunt and uncle. The problem in this city is that dance and rock & roll music have been forbidden by city reverend, Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), after a fatal road accident. That’s a problem for Ren as dance is his passion. He makes new friends, including Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn) and Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) and falls for the reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer). Ren has to compete against her boyfriend Chuck (Jim Youngs). Things don’t start too well for Ren as he always seems to get himself into troubles. However, his only objective will be, with the help of his new friends, to bring back the art of dance in the city.
Footloose story was based on a real life event that happened in the very religious town of Elmore City, Oklahoma in 1978. Dance was forbidden for 90 years and a group of teenagers decided to challenge this. (IMDB) 90 years! Imagine the nightmare.
I don’t know where I first heard about this film, but one thing is sure, it’s the kind of film everybody knows the existence of. I was curious to know what kind of film it was. So, I watched the trailer and was amazed. Those dance moves, this music; all this was everything I needed to be entertained. So, I immediately borrow the film at the video club and it turned out to absolutely be my kind of film. I later bought the dvd and watched it over and over.
Footloose is  the perfect representation of the dance style at the time, which was much more cool than today’s one.
The film starts in a perfect way with the opening credits where we see different pair of feet doing dance moves, some being quite imaginative and creative. Our attention is immediately grabbed with this scene and we feel like getting up and dancing too. However, we have to sit down to watch the rest of the film.
Of course, this is not the only moment that makes us want to get up and dance. My favourite dance scene is the one when Ren dances in a warehouse. Things aren’t going very well for him and that’s his way to externalize his anger. We can easily say that it’s the most impressive scene of the film with some amazing dance moves and stunts. Kevin Bacon could dance, however, for this scene, he had four stunt doubles for the more difficult tricks.
A very amusing dance scene is the one when Ren teaches to Willard how to dance. Of course, we laugh a lot while watching this scene, but, just like Ren, we are really impressed by Willard’s improvement. The interesting thing about this scene is that Chris Penn really couldn’t dance so he had to be taught on the set. This scene was added precisely because of that. Mixing fiction and reality can sometimes be worthy.
We don’t only remember Footloose for its dance, but also for its music. How can we forget the theme song “Footloose” sung by Kenny Loggins or “Let’s Hear for the Boy” sung by Deniece William (both nominated for an Oscar), or “Holding out for a Hero” sung by Bonny Tyler??? If you like 80’s entertaining music, Footloose‘s soundtrack certainly is a must to your musical library.
Footloose‘s main objective is to celebrate dance, how this one can cheer us and feed us. Just like Ren wants to prove it to the people of Beaumont, dance is not a synonym of debauchery and danger. Dance, after all, remains an art.
So, has David Bowie said “Put your red shoes and dance the blues”!
A big thanks to Bonnie for hosting such a nice blogathon. I invite you to read the other entries as well:
And a happy National Tap Dance Day to all! 🙂
A Time to Dance - Hearts and Laserbeams