Big Red (1962)

89 mins | Melodrama | 13 June 1962

Director:

Norman Tokar

Writer:

Louis Pelletier

Producer:

Walt Disney

Cinematographer:

Edward Colman

Editor:

Grant K. Smith

Production Designers:

Carroll Clark, Marvin Aubrey Davis

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

The 31 Mar 1960 DV listed the 1945 novel by James Arthur Kjelgaard among the latest properties acquired by the Walt Disney Company. The film version was scheduled to go into production the following summer, as stated in the 23 May 1961 LAT. Meanwhile, the 12 May 1961 DV reported that independent producers Arnold Stoltz and Arthur Silber had purchased rights to the novel in 1947. They had since registered the title with the Screen Writers Guild (SWG), and sent treatments to several movie studios. The team claimed that they had negotiated the project with Disney for two years, and spent more than $40,000 in "script costs," but the studio feigned disinterest. Stoltz also stated that dog trainer William Weatherwax had raised several Irish Setter dogs over the past ten years, each with the name "Big Red," in anticipation of the novel becoming the basis for a television series or a film. The producer incurred considerable expense defending his claims, although he insisted that they were a matter of public record. The 28 Aug 1961 DV explained that Silber was assigned all rights to the property, previously controlled by Stoltz's former partner Lloyd Lind. Stoltz filed "a suit for declaratory relief" on 25 Aug 1961, asking the court to prohibit Disney from continuing production, as plaintiffs would be "irreparably damaged." Disney, however, reportedly acquired rights to the story through Mrs. Edna Kjelgaard, the novelist's widow.
       Despite Stoltz's claims, Disney started production on 13 Jul 1961, according to the following day's DV. The 23 May 1962 ...

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The 31 Mar 1960 DV listed the 1945 novel by James Arthur Kjelgaard among the latest properties acquired by the Walt Disney Company. The film version was scheduled to go into production the following summer, as stated in the 23 May 1961 LAT. Meanwhile, the 12 May 1961 DV reported that independent producers Arnold Stoltz and Arthur Silber had purchased rights to the novel in 1947. They had since registered the title with the Screen Writers Guild (SWG), and sent treatments to several movie studios. The team claimed that they had negotiated the project with Disney for two years, and spent more than $40,000 in "script costs," but the studio feigned disinterest. Stoltz also stated that dog trainer William Weatherwax had raised several Irish Setter dogs over the past ten years, each with the name "Big Red," in anticipation of the novel becoming the basis for a television series or a film. The producer incurred considerable expense defending his claims, although he insisted that they were a matter of public record. The 28 Aug 1961 DV explained that Silber was assigned all rights to the property, previously controlled by Stoltz's former partner Lloyd Lind. Stoltz filed "a suit for declaratory relief" on 25 Aug 1961, asking the court to prohibit Disney from continuing production, as plaintiffs would be "irreparably damaged." Disney, however, reportedly acquired rights to the story through Mrs. Edna Kjelgaard, the novelist's widow.
       Despite Stoltz's claims, Disney started production on 13 Jul 1961, according to the following day's DV. The 23 May 1962 Var identified the Canadian province of Quebec as the filming location. Veteran actor Walter Pidgeon, who played "James Haggin," told the 27 Aug 1961 LAT that the picture marked his first experience working with an animal, and hinted that he did not enjoy being upstaged. The 16 Oct 1961 DV reported that Disney gave a Pidgeon a "stop date" for his role, allowing him to join the cast of Advise and Consent (1962, see entry).
       A news item in the 8 Aug 1961 DV announced the company's return to Disney Studios in Burbank, CA, for interior scenes, after three weeks on location. Later that month, the 24 Aug 1961 issue stated that the company had embarked that morning for nine days of filming at Big Bear, CA.
       Following the completion of principal photography, Disney filed an action with a U.S. Federal Court, asking that Stoltz and Silber's suit be transferred to "federal jurisdiction because the question of copyright is involved."
       Big Red opened 3 Jul 1962 in Los Angeles, CA, and in early Sep 1962 in New York City. The 19 Jun 1962 DV noted that the film was accompanied by the short subject, Living Desert (1962), also a Disney production. According to the 8 Aug 1962 Var, the picture was the eighth most profitable release of Jun 1962, although attendance decreased dramatically the following month. Two days later, a studio spokesman assured the 10 Aug 1962 DV that Big Red "performed well at the box office," as had all recent Disney releases.
       The film was among fourteen features honored by the Southern California Motion Picture Council. The dog cast in the title role, "Champion Red Aye 'Scraps'," won a Patsy Award from the American Humane Association. The 30 May 1962 Var reviewed an audio dramatization of the story, released on Disneyland Records.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1960
p. 2
Daily Variety
12 May 1961
p. 3
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1961
p. 8
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1961
p. 3
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1961
p. 4
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1961
p. 1, 4
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1961
p. 3
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1961
p. 2
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1962
p. 3
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1962
p. 3
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1962
p. 4
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1962
p. 4
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1961
Section A, p. 9
Los Angeles Times
27 Aug 1961
Section N, p. 5, 9
Los Angeles Times
2 Jul 1962
Section C, p. 10
Los Angeles Times
5 Jul 1962
Section C, p. 8
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1963
Section A, p. 2
New York Times
3 Sep 1962
p. 11
Variety
23 May 1962
p. 3
Variety
30 May 1962
p. 54
Variety
8 Aug 1962
p. 19
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Arthur J. Vitarelli
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mix
Music ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Irish setters trained by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Big Red by James Arthur Kjelgaard (New York, 1945).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Big Red Theme," "Mon Amour Perdu" and "Emile's Reel," words and music by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 June 1962
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 Jul 1962; New York opening: early Sep 1962
Production Date:
13 Jul--late Aug 1961
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Walt Disney Productions
6 April 1962
LP21936
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
89
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Rene Dumont, a 14-year-old orphan who lives in the woods of northern Canada, is hired to exercise Big Red, a champion Irish setter that belongs to James Haggin. When the dog becomes so attached to the boy that he refuses to take orders from anyone else, Haggin separates them. In a desperate effort to return to Rene, Big Red is seriously injured, and Haggin decides to have the animal put to sleep. Rene takes the dog away, nurses him back to health, and then reluctantly returns him to Haggin, who offers Rene his old job. When Rene refuses, Haggin, hurt by the boy's rejection, ships Big Red and his mate, Mollie, to Montreal for sale. The two dogs escape from the train and disappear into the pine forest. Rene finds them in a cave where Mollie has given birth to a litter of puppies. Meanwhile, Haggin realizes his growing affection for Rene and pursues them, but he is thrown from his horse and trapped in a rocky gorge. Big Red and Rene arrive in time to save him from a menacing mountain lion. As they head for home, Haggin offers to adopt Rene, and the boy, knowing that he will never again be separated from Big Red, gladly ...

More Less

Rene Dumont, a 14-year-old orphan who lives in the woods of northern Canada, is hired to exercise Big Red, a champion Irish setter that belongs to James Haggin. When the dog becomes so attached to the boy that he refuses to take orders from anyone else, Haggin separates them. In a desperate effort to return to Rene, Big Red is seriously injured, and Haggin decides to have the animal put to sleep. Rene takes the dog away, nurses him back to health, and then reluctantly returns him to Haggin, who offers Rene his old job. When Rene refuses, Haggin, hurt by the boy's rejection, ships Big Red and his mate, Mollie, to Montreal for sale. The two dogs escape from the train and disappear into the pine forest. Rene finds them in a cave where Mollie has given birth to a litter of puppies. Meanwhile, Haggin realizes his growing affection for Rene and pursues them, but he is thrown from his horse and trapped in a rocky gorge. Big Red and Rene arrive in time to save him from a menacing mountain lion. As they head for home, Haggin offers to adopt Rene, and the boy, knowing that he will never again be separated from Big Red, gladly accepts.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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