Book Review: Cinematic Canines

Dogs have been significant players in motion picture industry right from the beginning, and their important contributions are highlighted in Adrienne L. McLean’s collection, Cinematic Canines: Dogs and Their Work in the Fiction Filmpublished by the Rutgers University Press. The book is a compilation of essays from various authors that cover a range of canine performances, from stars like Asta, Rin Tin Tin, and Lassie, to the anonymous dogs who served as little more than extras, but who were nevertheless, and importantly, present in the frame alongside humans.

Honolulu (1939)

When you settle in to watch a film called “Honolulu,” you might expect to see a lush, expansive musical with plenty of opulent sets and numbers, perhaps a sequence or two in Technicolor to highlight the natural beauty of the island and to wow the viewer’s imagination. But, lest you start to think that all of 1939’s films were big epics, that’s really not the case for MGM’s 1939 Honolulu—it’s a very small-scale movie, set mostly in the interiors of passenger ships and homes instead of tropical jungles and pristine beaches. Instead, we’re treated to some fun trick photography and several Eleanor Powell dance numbers, which may be a fair enough trade for some people.