A New Book Examines The Life …
… of Hollywood’s favorite pooch. From Salon this morning:
“‘He believed the dog was immortal,’ Susan Orlean writes at the beginning of “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.” Although the pronoun refers
to Lee Duncan, the American soldier who found the German shepherd puppy on a battlefield in France in 1918, the author spends the rest of the book building a case for what became her own powerful belief that the iconic cinema canine, “idea and ideal,” will never die.
Certainly, he lives forever in one ghostly way — as does anyone whose temporal shape has been chemically fixed on celluloid. Even though relatively few of the early films starring the original dog (as opposed to the doppelgängers of later vehicles and television serials) survive, Netflix ought to be ready. They’ll soon be flying out of there in great volume because of the inevitable popularity of this beguiling work by an eminent New Yorker writer who has a knack for crafting bestsellers. Rin Tin Tin’s immortality in this regard was guaranteed less by what he was than by what he wasn’t: specific. As a creature whose agency necessarily remained mysterious, he could represent what was most desired in any age. At the outset of his career, the silent movie era of the twenties, what was wanted was the classically proportioned hero: steadfast, emerging from brutal or cruel circumstances with stoic character, ageless already because the screenplays were drawn from ancient legend. There were a lot of pictures set in the frozen North; it provided the elemental backdrop required by the primal morality plays craved by audiences in rapidly changing, industrializing America.”
Read the full story here.