This Ouida classic deals with a poor boy (David Ladd) and his grandfather who adopt a mistreated dog and share their meager rations with him. You may remember the dog, it was Old Yeller. David plays the part beautifully of Nello, an innocent boy with a big heart. The costuming in the film appears quite accurate. Nello wears a kind of military styled cap which was popular in the Netherlands and a short jacket like Dutch smock. He also wears long pants cut above the ankles. They may be meant to be kneepants. HBC is not sure as to just what length Dutch boys would have worn their pants. Both Nello and his grandfather wear wooden shoes--footwear especially associated with the Netherlands. Nello desires to be a painter. The two find their lives are changed by the dog. When the old man dies, the two have to fend for themselves. The film is a real tear jerker. The costuming is very boring and the boy wears longs. There are a few fleeting shots of more affluent boys in knicker suits.
The film is based on a classic book by Maria Louisa de la Ramé (Ouida) and was published in 1872. Presumably the clothes should reflect the Netherlands in the 1870s. An online edition of the book is available at: A Dog of Flanders. Interestingly Marie Louise de la Ramée (otherwise known as "Ouida") and not a Dutch writer. This is arguably the most famous story about a Dutch boy and it telling that it was written by an English and not a Dutch writer. (HBC has commented in the literature section that most famous boy characters have been created by American and English authors.) The author's interest for romantic adventures
of aristocrats, heroes and heroines is well captured in A Dog of Flanders the film, with its most evident attraction being the re-presentation of time and place (a small village in Belgium in the ealry 19th century) via picturesque sets and costumes.
This color production was directed by James B. Clark. The movie was filmed on location in Belgium, has some beautiful scenes set in Antwerp.
The star of the movie is David Ladd who very nicely plays the sensitive little Dutch boy--Nello. David was the son of film star Alan Ladd and Hollywood agent Sue Carol, David Ladd began his career as a sensitive, Brandon DeWilde-type juvenile actor. David was quite effective in such family-oriented The girl is Alois played by Monique Ahrens. Grandfather is played by Donal Crisp. He played these parts beautifully. He is probably most famous for his depiction of the father in the Welsh classic, How Green is My Valley in rich Roddy McDowell played the boy Hugh. You may remember the dog, it was Old Yeller. The book calls the dog "Patrasche," I don't remember that name on the movie.
This film is about a poor Dutch boy who has an artistic gift but in the day to day struggle to survive does not get the attention such a gift diserves to be developed. Be warned, this film is a real tear jerker. The Ouida classic deals with a poor boy (David Ladd) and his grandfather David plays the part beautifully of Nello, an innocent boy with a big heart. In the book, the two find a
dog which has been cruely treated and for dead by the road. "AFTER a time, among the holiday-makers, there came a little old man who was bent and lame, and very feeble. He was in no guise for feasting: he was very poorly and miserably clad, and he dragged his silent way slowly through the dust among the pleasure-seekers. He looked at Patrasche, paused, wondered, turned aside, then kneeled down in the rank grass and weeds of the ditch, and surveyed the dog with kindly eyes of pity. There was with him a little rosy, fair-haired, dark-eyed child of a few years old, who pattered in amidst the bushes, for him breast-high, and stood gazing with a pretty seriousness upon the poor, great, quiet beast. Thus it was that these two first met the little Nello and the big Patrasche." Grandfather and Nello adopt the mistreated dog and sharing their meager rations with him nurse him back to health. Nello has a talent for drawing. He is intelligent and sensitive boy who wants to paint like his idol--Peter Paul Rubens. Patrasche is named after Ruben's dog. Nello desires to be a painter, but there is no money available for schooling. The two find their lives are changed by the dog, but then tragedy strikes. One afternoon, Nello has just completed a drawing of his grandfather.
The old man is napping in a chair outside their one-roomed hut, Nello steps in to show him the just completed drawing, but cannot awaken him. He slowly comes to realize that his
beloved grandfather is dead. The two have to fend for themselves. Nello boy is bereft and unable to keep up the rent on their home. Nello and Patrasche are evicted by an unsympethetic landlord in the middle of winter. (I told you that it was a tear jerker.) The boy meets an artist who gives him lessons. On Christmas Eve the Church paster lets hin see a picture which is only viewed by paying guests.
The costuming in the film appears quite accurate, good late 19th century
costuming. Nello wears a kind of military styled cap which was popular in the Netherlands and a short jacket like Dutch smock. He also wears long pants cut above the ankles. They may be meant to be kneepants. HBC is not sure as to just what length Dutch boys would have worn their pants. Both Nello and his grandfather wear wooden shoes--footwear especially associated with the Netherlands. While Nello's costuming is similar to photographs I have seen of Dutch boys, it is not anything like the illustration in the original book. There are a few fleeting shots of more affluent boys in knicker suits. I'm not sure how accurate this was. While Nello's costuming is similar to photographs I have seen of Dutch boys, it is not anything like the illustration in the original book.
Nello in the movie wears as was to be expected "Dutch boy bangs". How accurate this was I do not know. These hair cuts in the Netherlands are referred more a page-boy bangs. Dutch boys did wear them, but they were only one of many styles worn. I'm not precisely sure why this hair style became known as "Dutch boy bangs" in America. Even in th film, not all of the boys wear bangs. Readers may want to look at the information we have collected on Dutch hair styles.
There are many other film versions of Ouida's A Dog of Flanders. The book has been adapted for quite a number of film and TV versions, including animated versions. The first was "A Dog of Flanders" (1914) directed by Howell Hansel. The Jackie Coogan version, "A Boy of Flanders" (1924) directed by Victor Schertzinger was the best known silent version. The first talkie was "A Dog of Flanders" (1935), directed by Edward Sloman. The best known version today is the color "A Dog of Flanders" (1960) directed by James B. Clark. David Ladd did a wonderful job as Nello. There are several Japanese animated versions.
The lasted version was "A Dog of Flanders" (1999) directed by Kevin Brodie.
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