Newest Reviews
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Art of Self-Defense, The
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Newest Articles
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
  Benji A Real DogBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Joe Camp
Stars: Patsy Garrett, Allen Fiuzat, Cynthia Smith, Peter Breck, Frances Bavier, Terry Carter, Edgar Buchanan, Tom Lester, Christopher Connelly, Deborah Walley, Mark Slade, Herb Vigran, Larry Swartz, J.D. Young, Erwin Hearne, Katie Hearne
Genre: Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Benji is a rust-coloured little dog who is a stray since he lost his owner, but he enjoys a contented life wandering the streets of his Texas town where he is well known to the locals, who look after him as he travels his accustomed route around the place. There are two children, Paul (Allen Fiuzat) and Cindy (Cynthia Smith), who especially love Benji and welcome him into their kitchen each morning where he is fed by their housekeeper, Mary (Patsy Garrett), but they have to keep the presence of the pooch secret from their doctor father (Peter Breck) for he would not approve, believing strays to carry diseases. But as it turns out, it's not the stray dogs that the kids should beware of...

Benji was something of a sensation on its release in the mid-seventies, a family film (as proudly proclaimed in the opening titles) that chimed with the American public and managed a healthy box office in foreign territories as well. Writer and director Joe Camp had all this in his masterplan, which was to create a film for kids that was of some quality and worth rather than the lowest common denominator, children will watch any old rubbish material that cynical producers were flooding the market with for weekend matinee showings, and he was most gratified when his scheme worked out so well - the hefty profits would have been a nice result to boot, and it set him on a career of animal movies.

Most of them featuring Benji, or the dog who played him, even including a film where he was voiced by Chevy Chase (Oh Heavenly Dog) and a science fiction television serial (Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince), though the original Benji was an animal called Higgins who had had a television career but found his swansong here, as in later entries he was played by his descendants. This was also a regional film made out of Hollywood's orbit, a Texan enterprise which boasted locations in that state and a host of accents loyal to it too, with the two lead children labouring under some of the whiniest voices ever heard in a family movie, just to underline the non-Hollywood brand we were dealing with.

Mind you, they had a lot to whine about when in the second half they are kidnapped by a gang who hole up in the abandoned house that Benji lives in when he's not wandering around. Can our four-legged hero save the day and direct the police to where the kids are being held? What do you think? Actually, for a lot of the time it seemed Camp was content not to bother with any kind of plot at all, and was more interested in depicting scenes of his pet simply walking about interacting with various folks (cat-owning little old lady, postman, Edgar Buchanan in his final role) and his own female friend who Mary names Tiffany, another stray he finds rustling through his favourite bin one day.

Indeed, there were a far higher degree of montages of Benji than was strictly necessary, albeit a handy device for padding out the plot with the padding pooch; Camp knew what would keep the audience occupied was simply watching him go about his business, doing basic tricks such as negotiating the journey into the old house or opening and eating a tin of vanilla pudding. Was it enough? Considering what passed for peril here, maybe he would have been better off keeping this as uncomplicated as possible, because when the danger arises you get scenes a family film of the twenty-first century would likely not include, including many of the children in tears and tied up and one shot of Tiffany apparently being kicked to death by the bad guys that Camp insisted on returning to over and over in one of those montages (it's OK, she survives). With its incessant country soundtrack by Euel Box (Benji's theme was Oscar-nominated! No, he didn’t sing it) this was more like a sentimental ode to the title character, sort of Love Me Love My Dog or Me and You and a Dog Named Boo on celluloid, and very much rooted to its decade.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1632 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: