Son of Lassie

Son of Lassie (1945), the second film in the Lassie series, focuses on the collie’s loyal son, Laddie, who follows his master Joe Carraclough (played as a young man by Peter Lawford) into battle during World War II and in the process proves worthy of his lineage. Set several years after Lassie Come Home (1943), the film begins at the estate of the Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce) as Joe prepares to join the Royal Air Force, simultaneously coming to terms with the increasing affection of the Duke’s granddaughter, Priscilla (June Lockhart). Joe loves Laddie, but acknowledges that the mischievous puppy fails to share his mother’s intelligence: when the war effort necessitates the transformation of the Duke’s kennel into a military training site for dogs, a grown-up Laddie fails the program’s tests of courage. After Joe leaves for the RAF, however, the collie finally exhibits Lassie-like behavior, repeatedly following his master to the base. Laddie eventually hides in Joe’s plane, accompanying him on a reconnaissance flight into Nazi-occupied Norway. After German gunfire damages the aircraft, Joe parachutes into enemy territory with the collie but immediately becomes separated from Laddie upon landing; as Joe attempts to make his way back to England, Laddie faces the hazards of war while searching for his master. Along the way, both master and dog receive aid from members of the Norwegian resistance, but Laddie complicates matters when he accidentally sets the Nazis on Joe’s trail, continually leading them to his hideouts. Laddie and Joe ultimately reunite at a POW camp, the collie finally demonstrating true courage by attacking a gun-bearing Nazi sergeant and facilitating his master’s escape. After a climactic sequence in which the pair braves a series of treacherous rapids, they return safely to England, where they reunite with their loved ones.

Herbert Stothart’s score (co-composed by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco) addresses the bond between Joe and Laddie with a compassionate string melody that suggests the courage and loyalty Laddie discovers within himself as the film progresses. The theme’s shape appropriately recalls Daniele Amfitheatrof’s primary tune from the original score (which Stothart reprises for Lassie herself). As Carraclough and his collie spend a significant portion of the film separated from one another, Stothart’s main theme proves essential in reinforcing their friendship and serves as a subtle reminder of the stakes in Laddie’s quest to find his master. While the composers develop the main theme to suit scenes of both companionship and danger, Laddie is also represented by a whimsical stepwise line that casually rises and falls, as well as an ornamented idea for his more mischievous behavior.

Early on, Stothart introduces a lush, descending love theme for Joe and Priscilla, but this idea fades from the score once Joe leaves her behind and embarks on his mission. (The latter part of this theme bears a distinct resemblance to a phrase from Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz—on which Stothart had worked six years earlier—specifically the music for the words “and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”) For the film’s Norway sequences, Stothart incorporates two themes from Edvard Grieg’s famous piano concerto—a stiff, militaristic motive from the first movement and the principal lyrical theme from the second. He also uses a theme from the great Norwegian composer’s incidental music for Peer Gynt and contributes his own collection of threatening motives for the Nazis. Other prominent ideas include a solemn melody for Laddie trekking through the wilderness to find Joe, and emotive, delicate material that represents a group of Norwegian children who nurse Laddie back to health after he is wounded.

1. Main Title
Triumphant brass ushers in Stothart’s principal ideas during the opening credits: a sweeping compound melody on upper-register strings for Laddie; a bittersweet, descending love theme for Joe Carraclough (Peter Lawford) and Priscilla (June Lockhart); an austere, militaristic motive from Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, which figures prominently in the Norwegian scenes; and Daniele Amfitheatrof’s nostalgic Lassie theme from Lassie Come Home.
Laddie (beginning)*
After the title sequence, the film transitions to the English estate of the Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce), where a playful ornamented tune—Laddie’s antic theme—accompanies the Duke’s collies enjoying their morning run. Lassie’s theme returns to close the cue as she trails behind the other dogs along with the Duke and Sam Carraclough (Donald Crisp). (The music masters for this cue did not survive, so only the first portion—from the film mix—is included; likewise, a subsequent cue, “Waking Joe,” was unavailable for inclusion on this CD.)
2. Mischievous Puppy
Coy winds reference “London Bridge Is Falling Down” during Laddie’s morning routine, with Joe scolding and chasing after the puppy for chewing up his football. An impish, skip-beat motive trades off with racing, cascading material as Laddie causes a series of accidents, antagonizing the Duke’s washerwoman (Eily Malyon).
My First Cake
A stepwise rising and falling motive—Laddie’s whimsical secondary theme—sounds after Joe’s pursuit of the collie forces him to collide with Priscilla, causing her to drop a cake. The love theme receives a tender reading but grows contemplative as Priscilla unsuccessfully attempts to coerce Joe into admitting his affection for her. Playful, imitative woodwinds sound for Laddie tearing down Priscilla’s dress, the cue maintaining a comical tone as the Duke arrives on the scene and assumes the worst when he sees his granddaughter standing before Joe in her bloomers. The cue subsides as two British military officers arrive in a jeep and charge Joe’s father Sam with training the kennel’s dogs for war.
3. Say It
A frolicking woodwind tune unfolds as Priscilla chases Joe back to the mansion. Although he believes her grandfather would not approve, he confesses that he loves her, accompanied by a reprise of their theme. Once the scene segues back to Sam and the Duke seeing off the British officers, an optimistic military fanfare plays under the old friends discussing the conversion of the kennel into a training facility; a stinger leads to a hint of the antic theme for the Duke angrily noticing that Laddie has mauled his flower garden. Lassie’s theme modulates through a subsequent transition to the collie running across a grassy field alongside her puppy, with Laddie growing older as time passes. When the collies arrive on the Yorkshire moors, Joe shares a moment with Lassie and thanks her for giving him Laddie, accompanied by a tender reading of the younger dog’s tune. Stothart quotes the antic theme as Joe goes on to tease Laddie about his lack of brains.
Rudling Kennels
As Joe and Laddie arrive at Rudling Kennels, a lighthearted march emphasizes gruff low brass with busy woodwinds for a group of soldiers training their dogs. Stothart also subtly references the 19th-century British song “Home, Sweet Home” (by Sir Henry Bishop) in this cue.
4. Training Routine
Laddie’s theme plays as the collie is collared and escorted to an obstacle course, the score assuming a trilling, intimidating air as two other dogs successfully leap over a series of wooden structures. Laddie’s secondary theme returns when the collie fails his test by squeezing himself through one of the obstacles; forlorn strings and horn underscore a soldier’s comment that the dog is “not very bright.” Propulsive, militaristic material sounds for another exercise, a “courage test” that has a soldier firing blank rounds at charging canines. When Laddie’s turn comes to face down the phony gunfire, he retreats into Joe’s arms and the score subsides into Lassie’s theme as Joe proclaims Laddie a champion, despite his cowardly performance. Laddie’s secondary theme closes out the cue when Priscilla tries to steal Joe away for a picnic.
5. That’s Where His Heart Is
The others leave, but Priscilla stays behind to talk to her grandfather about Joe. The love theme plays through the Duke’s failed attempt to discourage her from pursuing the young man. A pensive woodwind theme (derived from the British folksong “Early One Morning”) follows for a transition to the Yorkshire moors, where Priscilla, Sam, Lassie and Laddie gather to watch Joe’s bus drive by. Laddie’s secondary theme leads to an aching rendition of his primary tune when Joe’s bus appears in the distance and he waves at his loved ones. Laddie whines and runs down a hill to chase after his master, accompanied by a reprise of the antic theme, which ultimately gives way to the love theme as Priscilla pines for Joe.
Lowering the Colors
A segue to an exterior of Joe’s military base receives a traditional bugle call over snare drum accompaniment.
6. Bull Terrier
At the base’s barracks, sultry jazz plays as Sergeant Eddie Brown (Donald Curtis) shows Joe a picture of his bulldog (the finished film dials out this material). Lassie’s theme enters when Joe tells Brown of his beloved collie’s devotion, before an open-fifth trumpet fanfare signals bedtime for the soldiers.
Infraction of Regulations
Delicate pizzicato strings and woodwinds underscore Laddie sneaking into the barracks at night. The collie’s theme plays as he awakens Joe and licks his face, before the sneaky, pizzicato-driven material returns for Carraclough hiding the dog under his blanket; two warrant officers enter the room, the cue building lighthearted suspense as one of them approaches Joe’s bed and tears his blanket away, revealing Laddie. Strings take up Laddie’s secondary theme for the officer admiring the collie (this material does not appear in the film) until Sam arrives to collect the dog, marked by a reading of the antic theme. Lassie’s theme returns as Sam and Joe acknowledge Laddie’s first act of intelligence: tracking Joe to the base. A portentous trill marks a transition to a plane propeller starting up in the morning.
7. Laddie at Airfield & Waiting Dog
As Joe boards his plane for a reconnaissance mission, Laddie appears once again and climbs in to greet his master; the dog’s arrival is announced by suspenseful trilling strings along with a fateful, rising fanfare—developed out of Laddie’s secondary theme—that is eventually set optimistically against the collie’s primary theme when Joe collects him and passes him off to Eddie for safekeeping. Racing stepwise strings and brass underscore Joe’s plane starting down the runway, with Laddie’s themes entering the fray when the dog breaks free and chases after his master. The material builds to a sentimental string-driven melody (based on “Home, Sweet Home”) when Joe’s plane finally takes off, leaving Laddie behind. Dejected woodwinds develop the same sentimental tune for Eddie tying the collie to a tree and telling him to wait a few hours for Joe’s plane to return (the finished film dials out this material). Chilly strings and winds sound when three army planes finally return to the base; Laddie becomes agitated, sensing that Joe’s plane is not among them.
8. Planes Taxiing
This passage of distressed, undulating strings and brass does not appear in the film.
Plane Overdue
Night falls at the airfield with gloomy, low-register strings and winds sounding as Laddie and fellow soldiers continue to hope for Joe’s arrival. (The film dials out a tentative, shimmering hint of “Home, Sweet Home” along with more of the gloomy material and its subsequent, suspenseful escalation.) When Laddie senses the presence of his master and whines, strings take up an impassioned setting of the dog’s theme, with the material growing increasingly affirmative and celebratory as Joe’s plane approaches the base. The antic theme trades off with Laddie’s secondary theme for Joe’s landing and reunion with the collie. A forlorn suggestion of Lassie’s theme plays when Eddie informs Joe that Laddie is to be sent home; Laddie’s melody enters and culminates in a gentle rendition of the love theme as Joe cuddles with the dog and laments that he will not be able to see him during the war.
9. Parachute Landing
Laddie hides in the cockpit of Joe’s plane, joining him on a mission over Norway to photograph enemy positions. (In a missing cue that accompanies this action, “To Norway,” Stothart uses the militaristic motive from Grieg’s piano concerto as if to announce the plane’s location.) When enemy fire damages the aircraft, Joe parachutes into Norway carrying the collie. Cautiously descending tremolo strings follow them as they reach the ground, the cue quickly taking on a mournful tone when Joe hits his head on a rock and is knocked unconscious. Laddie’s theme plays as the dog attempts to awaken his master to no avail, with Grieg’s Norwegian motive sounding for the collie running off to fetch help. A foreboding five-note motive is introduced over a percussive ostinato for a pair of Nazi soldiers whom Laddie summons. After the collie leads the soldiers to the landing site, the Norwegian motive returns when they discover that Joe has disappeared. The Nazi motive builds suspense for the villains checking Laddie’s collar and learning that he is an English dog. As the collie flees the scene, the Nazis follow and open fire, wounding his paw; brass takes up the Norwegian motive over wandering strings for the chase, while a yearning, undulating development of the collie’s theme offers relief once he loses the Nazis by hiding in a lake. The cue reaches a tentative conclusion as the injured dog settles by the shore. (“Children of Norway,” another cue that unfortunately did not survive, accompanied the following scene, in which four young siblings discover Laddie and tend to his wounded paw.)
10. Underground
In a nearby village, a percussive setting of the Grieg motive plays as the Nazis interrogate a priest (Fritz Leiber) over the whereabouts of Laddie (expecting the dog to lead them to Joe). Strings introduce a rising-and-falling danger motive when a wagon driver—a member of the Norwegian Resistance—helps smuggle Joe into the priest’s church, right under the Nazis’ noses.
Disconsolate Laddie (damaged)
A bittersweet melody for strings and brass sounds for a transition back to the lake, where the children have finished nursing Laddie back to health. An emotive theme comes to the fore as they note that Laddie will no longer accept food (he misses his master). The danger motive alternates with the Norwegian motive when the children spot Nazi soldiers searching the shore for Laddie. They hide the collie in their wagon filled with firewood and attempt to sneak him past the soldiers, while a lighthearted flute and trumpet march—for which Stothart uses the tune of a Norwegian Christmas carol—emerges cautiously as they pause to salute the Nazis. The film dials out a passage of contemplative woodwinds intended to accompany the soldiers questioning the children, before a seething rendition of the danger motive sounds for the siblings continuing down the shore. A nasty exclamation of brass marks the moment when their wagon topples over and Laddie runs free, abandoning them.
Unfortunately, “Disconsolate Laddie” suffered extensive audio degradation; we have done our best to clean up the anomalies but listeners may notice that the sound quality suffers in comparison with other cues. A tender coda for this cue, in which quasi-religioso strains accompany the youngest boy’s prayer for Laddie’s safety, has not survived. Neither has the following cue, “Haystacks,” during which Laddie discovers the farm belonging to the wagon driver who helped smuggle Joe into the village church; the collie digs up his master’s buried parachute from the garden, accompanied by the antic motive.
11. Occupied Village
Laddie follows the wagon driver into the village; a sinister minor-third and tritone motive wavers on brass, underlining the threat of the surrounding Nazis. A rushing figure with offbeat accents rises repeatedly when the soldiers take note of Laddie and hassle the puzzled driver, who insists that she is not the dog’s owner. The score maintains its threatening air for Laddie running off to the church, where the priest leads the four siblings in a prayer for the dog’s safety. The children’s material is developed into a hymn-like theme as Laddie interrupts the sermon, to the delight of his little friends. When two Nazis arrive at the church, the cue’s portentous motives return and contend with the children’s innocent material as the collie hides under the priest’s cloak.
Locked Storage
Laddie gives himself away when he emerges and whines at the church’s storeroom door, behind which Joe is hiding. The score continues to mount danger with the minor-third motive and the rushing figure as Joe and Laddie escape separately, with the Nazis in pursuit of both.
12. Injured Dog*/Of Viking Ancestry
A bomb blast seriously injures Laddie when an air raid strikes the village. As he slowly makes his way into the mountains and across the fjord in search of Joe, an aching string lament by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco accompanies his sorrowful journey. Meanwhile, Joe takes shelter at the mountain cabin of Olav (Nils Asther), a supporter of the Norwegian resistance who entertains with exaggerated stories of his Viking heritage. Horn and tenor saxophone color a reverent processional theme as Olav sees Joe off into the mountains. Lyrical, folk-like material gives way to a yearning version of Laddie’s theme when Joe speaks affectionately of his missing collie, before the processional melody returns for Olav advising Joe to rendezvous with resistance member Anton (Leon Ames) and his wife. Foreboding muted brass closes the cue, suggesting the danger that lies ahead for Joe. (Due to the existence of dual microphone perspectives, FSM is able to present this track in genuine stereo.)
13. It Should Be Christmas
Olav discovers Laddie freezing in the mountains and recognizes him as Joe’s collie. (The music for this scene, “Skiing,” does not survive, but was almost entirely derived from Grieg’s concerto by Stothart’s co-composer, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.) Back at his cabin, Olav feeds the collie while another missing cue (“With Olav”) borrows heavily from the concerto (the scoring log credits the cue to “Grieg et al.”). Soon, the Norwegian receives a radio transmission revealing that Joe will be returning, because his escape route is blocked. As Olav delights in the prospect of reuniting the dog with his master—he remarks, “It should be Christmas!”—a light setting of Laddie’s theme leads to quotations of “Silent Night” and “Good King Wenceslas.” The scene segues to Joe skiing through the mountains, with cascading woodwinds mimicking his action. Grim brass and strings denote two Nazis spying on him as he passes by.
14. Frantic Dog
Laddie sees the Nazis approaching the cabin and alerts Olav to their presence—accompanied by a missing cue, “Nazi Menace.” Once the Nazis arrive at Olav’s cabin, they search for and find his contraband radio (“Searching the Cabin” is another lost cue). After explaining that Joe has been captured, they kill the Norwegian and blow up his home with Laddie still hiding inside. Tortured strings and brass build as the trapped collie struggles to pull himself from the wreckage. Once Laddie is free, a solemn minor-mode lament (“Åse’s Death” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt) plays for the dog whimpering over Olav’s corpse; the melody gathers strength through the addition of a keening descending line (added by Castelnuovo-Tedesco) as the dog proceeds to trek through the mountains in search of Joe. The score takes an optimistic turn when Laddie arrives at the perimeter fence of a POW camp and attracts the attention of its prisoners. The finished film dials out the remainder of the cue, in which playful strings and woodwinds (mostly developed from Grieg’s concerto) would have underscored Laddie’s introduction to his new temporary master, a blind corporal (Morton Lowry), with threatening militaristic material intended for scheming Nazi Sergeant Schmidt (Robert Lewis).
15. Leading the Blind
Low-register flute sets Laddie’s theme against a dissonant but ethereal accompaniment as he leads the blind POW into the camp’s barracks. Threatening brass and strings sound when Laddie whines at a clothes peg labeled “Carraclough”; Sgt. Schmidt witnesses this and realizes that he can use the dog to track down Joe, who has escaped from the camp. Schmidt leaves Laddie under the watch of his vicious German shepherd and the cue builds to a frenzied climax as the dogs attack one another.
16. Reprise
English horn, bassoon and oboe develop the dissonant setting of Laddie’s theme from “Leading the Blind” as Schmidt and his doubtful superior watch the collie pick up Joe’s scent in the barracks.
17. Passport
Joe reaches Anton’s home, but the Nazis find him there before he can make his escape to England. Sul ponticello tremolo strings and snare drum create tension as a Nazi officer confronts Joe and orders him and Anton to a labor camp. The militaristic motive from Grieg’s concerto is referenced when the departing fisherman comforts his wife; as Joe and Anton arrive at the camp and take their places shoveling among a sea of captives, the pensive theme from the second movement of the concerto receives a sorrowful development for strings.
18. It’s Laddie
Schmidt and Laddie arrive at the labor camp, marked by a suspenseful escalation from the “Leading the Blind” development of the collie’s theme. Anton warns Joe to beat Laddie away so that he will not be recognized as the dog’s master.
19. Seeking His Master
Stothart reprises Laddie’s secondary theme for the collie inspecting a row of labor camp workers, the score mounting suspense as he approaches Joe. An aching rendition of Laddie’s theme bursts forth when he recognizes his master and rushes over to him; Joe raises his hand to strike the dog—as per Anton’s instructions—but instead caresses him and returns his love. Comical woodwind material from “Reprise” sounds for Schmidt breaking up the reunion.
20. Clown Sergeant
As Schmidt marches Joe and Laddie back to the original POW camp, the score mocks the sergeant with circus-flavored clarinet amid tense strings and muted brass. Joe eventually baits Schmidt into drawing his gun, prompting Laddie to attack the Nazi, marked by an escalation of trilling strings and exclamatory brass. With the collie’s help, Joe is able to dispatch Schmidt, but other Nazis hear the commotion in the distance and sound an alarm.
The Escape
Chromatic strings lead to the Norwegian motive for Joe and Laddie making their way up the slope of a mountain, evading and fending off a battalion of German soldiers in the process. When the heroes arrive at a bridge, they ditch their pursuers by diving into the river below.
Through the Rapids
Brass fatefully develop the rising-and-falling danger motive from “Underground” (track 10) over frenetic, swirling string textures as the river sweeps Joe and Laddie through perilous, rocky rapids; the motive subsides once they reach calmer waters.
21. Back to the Yorkshire Moors
Portentous strings and woodwinds ground a cautious version of Laddie’s theme as Joe and the collie sneak back to England in Anton’s rowboat (the film tracks this subdued material over with an aggressive rendition of the Norwegian motive). The pensive variant of “Early One Morning” from “That’s Where His Heart Is” (track 5) sounds after a transition to the Yorkshire moors, where Priscilla, Sam and Lassie await.
22. Final Episode
The opening gloom of “Plane Overdue” (track 8) returns as Priscilla, Sam and Lassie continue to wait on the moors for their loved ones (as in the earlier cue, the film dials out this anticipatory music). When Lassie senses someone’s presence, she perks up and barks, with Laddie eventually answering her calls. Joe and Laddie emerge in the distance, marked by a horn reading of Lassie’s theme with Laddie’s theme building emotionally as Joe and Priscilla rush into each other’s arms. Laddie friskily joins his mother and Sam, and the score reaches a brassy, grandiose conclusion for the “End Title” card.
23. Overseas Title
This brief celebratory coda was recorded for the conclusion of the overseas version of the film and does not appear in the American print. —