Cast & Crew
On the day that his father Hugh is to marry Ann, little Danny Mitchell, resenting his new stepmother and longing for his deceased mother, seeks solace at a creek. Hugh drives to the creek to persuade Danny to attend the ceremony, but his car breaks down, and while Danny explores the surrounding woods, Hugh calls a mechanic. At a farm owned by returning war veteran Will Nelson, Danny comes upon Rusty, a vicious German Shepherd. Father and son then drive home and after the ceremony, the newlyweds depart on their honeymoon, leaving Danny in the care of Louise Hover, Ann's best friend. While chasing the honeymooners' car, Danny's little dog Skipper is struck and killed by an oncoming truck. When Ann and Hugh return home from their trip, they find Danny still grieving for Skipper and resentful of their marriage. Lonely, Danny wanders back to the farm and Nelson explains that Rusty understands no English because he was a German army dog. One day, neglected and misunderstood, Rusty jumps the fence of his pen and injures his leg. Danny, playing in the woods, finds the injured dog, bandages his leg and takes him home, hiding him in the cellar. That night, Hugh is confounded by Danny's requests to translate phrases from English to German until Danny finally tells him about the canine in the basement. Although Hugh insists that Danny return Rusty to his owner, Ann tries to convince her husband to allow the boy to keep the dog. The next morning, Danny reluctantly takes Rusty back to the farm, and Nelson, impressed by the boy's concern, gives the dog to him. Later, at the Mitchell house, Ann confides to Louise her disappointment over Danny's rejection. When Louise suggests taking Danny to see Dr. Banning, a prominent psychiatrist, Danny overhears their conversation and decides to take Rusty to the doctor. After hearing about Rusty's problems, Dr. Banning advises Danny to ignore the dog and only reward him for good behavior. Later, Ann visits the doctor about Danny, and the doctor gives her similar advice. Soon after, two German spies land on the beach, having been assigned to a secret mission in the area. Rusty, suddenly ignored by Danny, runs away from home and encounters the spies in the woods. Realizing that the dog can provide them with small game, the agents decide to keep him. Danny, meanwhile, begins a desperate search for Rusty. One week later, Hugh reads a newspaper story about farmers hunting an abandoned German Shepherd who has been killing their chickens. Fearing for Rusty's life, Danny organizes his friends to search for the dog. As domestic tensions escalate between Hugh and Ann, Danny combs the countryside for Rusty. Still hiding in the woods, one of the spies takes Rusty rabbit hunting, and when the dog hears Danny calling him, he runs to him. The spy follows, and upon seeing the boy, pulls out his gun and takes aim. To protect Danny, Rusty knocks the man down, enabling Danny to grab the gun. Drawn by the sounds of the struggle, the other spy appears and is about to shoot Danny when the rest of the boys arrive and one of them wounds the German with his slingshot. Minutes later, a group of sailors who have been tailing the agents overtake and arrest them. Running home to tell Hugh and Ann the good news, Danny finds his father despondent because Ann has left him. Guessing that Ann is staying with Louise, Danny goes to Louise's house, apologizes to Ann for his disagreeable behavior and begs her to come home. Embracing Danny as her son, Ann returns to Hugh, after which, the Mitchell family and Rusty, happily reunited, pile into the car for a fishing trip.
M. R. Bakaleinikoff
Rudolph C. Flothow
L. W. O'connell
Leonard S. Picker
Edwin L. Wetzel
The Adventures of Rusty
Rusty (played by Ace the Wonder Dog) was not a sweet English collie like Lassie, but a German shepherd who was formerly trained to be a Nazi police dog. Rusty is brought to the United States by a returning vet and believed to be dangerous, but a young boy named Danny Mitchell (Ted Donaldson) is determined to retrain him with love so he will be a safe family pet.
The Adventures of Rusty was filmed while World War II was ending in Europe and was released on September 6, 1945, only weeks after the Japanese surrender and the end of the war. The film, to the surprise of the studio, turned out to be popular enough to warrant sequels and Columbia rushed them into production. By then, Ace was working on what would be his last film, God's Country (1946) and did not return for the sequels. He had appeared in films since 1938 in which he often had an important role. He appeared in another 'boy and his dog' film called Orphans of the Street (1938) with Tommy Ryan, 'starred' as a dog wrongly accused of murder in Almost a Gentleman (1939), and helped clear an innocent man of robbery in The Rookie Cop (1939). By 1946 he was getting too old to continue working however and would be replaced in the sequels by another German shepherd named Flame.
Twelve-year-old Ted Donaldson had been appearing on radio since the age of four but had only appeared in four movies before he was cast as Danny Mitchell in The Adventures of Rusty. The year before he had co-starred as Peggy Ann Garner's little brother Neeley Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and the success of that film gave him wider exposure. Donaldson would be the only cast member from The Adventures of Rusty to star in all of the sequels. He left films after Phone Call from a Stranger in 1952. Most recently Donaldson appeared at the Hollywood Collector's Show in Los Angeles in February 2007.
Producer: Rudolph C. Flothow
Director: Paul Burnford
Screenplay: Al Martin (story), Aubrey Wisberg
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Film Editing: Reginald Browne
Music: Marlin Skiles
Cast: Ted Donaldson (Danny Mitchell), Margaret Lindsay (Ann Mitchell), Conrad Nagel (Hugh Mitchell), Gloria Holden (Louise Hover), Robert Williams (Will Nelson), Addison Richards (Dr. Banning).
by Lorraine LoBianco
The All Movie Guide
The Internet Movie Database
The Adventures of Rusty
The working titles of this film were For the Love of Rusty and Rusty. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, George Sherman was intitially slated to direct, but a prior commitment forced him to withdraw. This marked the feature directorial debut of former documentary director Paul Burnford. The picture was also the first entry in Columbia's "Rusty" series. The series, which consisted of eight films, featured Ted Donaldson as "Danny Mitchell," the boy who loved his faithful dog Rusty. The 1949 picture Rusty's Birthday was the last in the series.