Benji the Hunted


1h 29m 1987
Benji the Hunted

Brief Synopsis

Braving the wilderness, Benji plays an adoptive parent and rescues orphaned cougar cubs.

Film Details

Also Known As
Benji, the Hunted, Hunted, The
MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Adventure
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Steve Martin's Working Wildlife; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Location
Newport, Oregon, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m

Synopsis

Braving the wilderness, Benji plays an adoptive parent and rescues orphaned cougar cubs.

Film Details

Also Known As
Benji, the Hunted, Hunted, The
MPAA Rating
G
Genre
Adventure
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Steve Martin's Working Wildlife; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Location
Newport, Oregon, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m

Articles

Benji the Hunted


You gotta at least be curious about a lost dog who will kill another canine in order to save a kitten, but that's essentially what the titular hero does in this seventh of nine films in a series that is still one of the most popular family entertainments of all time.

That popularity was precisely the aim of writer-director Joe Camp when he created the series in the early '70s, with the first film to star the lovable canine, Benji (1974). At the time, the market for G-rated films had been oversaturated by the "four-wall" distribution practice, whereby a filmmaker or distributor rents a theater to show their feature and keeps all the box-office receipts. As a result, a lot of low quality family pictures glutted the market, at least in Camp's view.

"It has become an industry-caused thing," Camp told Variety around the time of the release of the series' second movie, For the Love of Benji (1977). "But the G-rated classification has to some degree become 'If it's G, it can't be for me.'"

Camp found a willing collaborator in Frank Inn, a successful Hollywood animal trainer whose career began with uncredited training work on Lassie Come Home (1943). Among Inn's other notable animal stars were Orangey, who appeared as "Cat" in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and Elly May's abundant menagerie on the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. In the mid-1960s, Inn was called upon to provide a cute little dog for the girls of Petticoat Junction. He chose a cocker spaniel-poodle-schnauzer mix that he had rescued from the Burbank Animal Shelter in 1960. Higgins, as the pooch was known, worked on the series for six years before Inn "retired" him.

Like many actors who get a taste of fame and just can't stay retired no matter how many times they declare it, Higgins jumped back into the biz with his greatest triumph of all, Benji.

Unfortunately, Higgins didn't live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his fame. The animal passed away in 1975 at the age of 17. One story has it that when Inn died in 2002, the urn containing Higgins' ashes was placed inside Inn's casket. But other sources say burial legalities prevented Inn's wish from being carried out, and the dog's remains are with Inn's daughters.

With Higgins gone, Inn continued to supply Camp with look-alikes who could take on the lead role. Whether true or movie hype, it was claimed that the animal actor who played in the 1977 sequel and several more in the series was Higgins' daughter Benjean (although there were reportedly a number of "stunt dogs" used throughout production on Benji the Hunted).

Camp wrote and directed his final (to date) entry in the series, Benji: Off the Leash! (2004), before turning the reins over to his son Brandon for the Netflix reboot of the franchise, once again simply called Benji (2018). Brandon Camp, once an assistant for producer Scott Rudin, made his writing-directing debut with the Jennifer Aniston-Aaron Eckhart romance Love Happens (2009).

Back to Benji the Hunted; the first paragraph of this article takes a few liberties in its plot description, but it would be spoiling a major moment in the story to correct it with many more details. Let's just say that in this film, Benji is typecast as a show dog who ends up in the wilderness after an accident, fighting hard to survive and return to his human companion, played here by Inn himself. Inn spends much of the movie desperately searching for his little pal, while said little pal - hungry, lost and frightened as he is - avoids being found long enough to rescue those darn cats.

One curious bit of trivia about this movie: The music supervisor/composer for this film, Betty Box (1915-1999), was a British producer who oversaw production of a number of films, including The Iron Petticoat (1956), a dreary retread of Ninotchka (1939) starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn.

Director: Joe Camp
Producers: Ed Vanston (executive), Ben Vaughn
Screenplay: Joe Camp
Cinematography: Don Reddy
Editing: Karen Thorndike
Music: Betty Box, Euel Box
Cast: Benjean (Benji), Frank Inn (Himself), Red Steagall (Hunter), Nancy Francis (Mary Beth)

By Rob Nixon
Benji The Hunted

Benji the Hunted

You gotta at least be curious about a lost dog who will kill another canine in order to save a kitten, but that's essentially what the titular hero does in this seventh of nine films in a series that is still one of the most popular family entertainments of all time. That popularity was precisely the aim of writer-director Joe Camp when he created the series in the early '70s, with the first film to star the lovable canine, Benji (1974). At the time, the market for G-rated films had been oversaturated by the "four-wall" distribution practice, whereby a filmmaker or distributor rents a theater to show their feature and keeps all the box-office receipts. As a result, a lot of low quality family pictures glutted the market, at least in Camp's view. "It has become an industry-caused thing," Camp told Variety around the time of the release of the series' second movie, For the Love of Benji (1977). "But the G-rated classification has to some degree become 'If it's G, it can't be for me.'" Camp found a willing collaborator in Frank Inn, a successful Hollywood animal trainer whose career began with uncredited training work on Lassie Come Home (1943). Among Inn's other notable animal stars were Orangey, who appeared as "Cat" in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and Elly May's abundant menagerie on the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. In the mid-1960s, Inn was called upon to provide a cute little dog for the girls of Petticoat Junction. He chose a cocker spaniel-poodle-schnauzer mix that he had rescued from the Burbank Animal Shelter in 1960. Higgins, as the pooch was known, worked on the series for six years before Inn "retired" him. Like many actors who get a taste of fame and just can't stay retired no matter how many times they declare it, Higgins jumped back into the biz with his greatest triumph of all, Benji. Unfortunately, Higgins didn't live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his fame. The animal passed away in 1975 at the age of 17. One story has it that when Inn died in 2002, the urn containing Higgins' ashes was placed inside Inn's casket. But other sources say burial legalities prevented Inn's wish from being carried out, and the dog's remains are with Inn's daughters. With Higgins gone, Inn continued to supply Camp with look-alikes who could take on the lead role. Whether true or movie hype, it was claimed that the animal actor who played in the 1977 sequel and several more in the series was Higgins' daughter Benjean (although there were reportedly a number of "stunt dogs" used throughout production on Benji the Hunted). Camp wrote and directed his final (to date) entry in the series, Benji: Off the Leash! (2004), before turning the reins over to his son Brandon for the Netflix reboot of the franchise, once again simply called Benji (2018). Brandon Camp, once an assistant for producer Scott Rudin, made his writing-directing debut with the Jennifer Aniston-Aaron Eckhart romance Love Happens (2009). Back to Benji the Hunted; the first paragraph of this article takes a few liberties in its plot description, but it would be spoiling a major moment in the story to correct it with many more details. Let's just say that in this film, Benji is typecast as a show dog who ends up in the wilderness after an accident, fighting hard to survive and return to his human companion, played here by Inn himself. Inn spends much of the movie desperately searching for his little pal, while said little pal - hungry, lost and frightened as he is - avoids being found long enough to rescue those darn cats. One curious bit of trivia about this movie: The music supervisor/composer for this film, Betty Box (1915-1999), was a British producer who oversaw production of a number of films, including The Iron Petticoat (1956), a dreary retread of Ninotchka (1939) starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn. Director: Joe Camp Producers: Ed Vanston (executive), Ben Vaughn Screenplay: Joe Camp Cinematography: Don Reddy Editing: Karen Thorndike Music: Betty Box, Euel Box Cast: Benjean (Benji), Frank Inn (Himself), Red Steagall (Hunter), Nancy Francis (Mary Beth) By Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1988

Released in United States June 4, 1987

Released in United States on Video June 14, 1988

Released in United States Summer June 17, 1987

Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1988.

Began shooting June 2, 1986.

Completed shooting September 1986.

Released in United States February 1988 (Shown at Berlin Film Festival February 1988.)

Released in United States June 4, 1987 (Premiered June 4, 1987.)

Released in United States on Video June 14, 1988

Released in United States Summer June 17, 1987