Snubbing Rin Tin Tin
In her biography of the most famous German shepherd ever, “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” Orleans recounts how the dog — while rumored to have received the most votes — was snubbed by the Academy in 1929, the year the Oscars were first presented.
In an recent interview with Deadline.com, she suggested the mistake be corrected, and a posthumous Oscar be bestowed on Rin Tin Tin.
That, we note (parenthetically and cynically) wouldn’t hurt book sales. But more important, it would rectify an injustice, she maintains.
In the silent film era, which was then coming to an end, the German shepherd was a far more popular performer than the German actor, Emil Jannings, who won 1929′s best actor award.
“That first year that the Oscars were awarded, it seems to have been more a popularity contest than a serious assessment of performance,” Orlean said in the interview. “In terms of popularity, Rin Tin Tin didn’t have a peer, he was a huge star around the world and helped Warner Bros transition from its start as a small studio into a large one.”
The dog, reportedly rescued from a bombsite in eastern France at the end of World War I, was brought to California and made his screen debut in 1922′s The Man from Hell’s River. He appeared in numerous other films before dying in 1932, at the age of 13, only to see his character later reincarnated in TV series form.
The German actor, meanwhile, after receiving the award for his roles in two silent movies, returned to Germany and took part in making propaganda films for his friend Joseph Goebbels, a close associate of Adolf Hitler.
But it’s not just a matter of the dog being more American, or more popular, that leads Orlean to believe Rin Tin Tin would have been a better choice for 1929′s best actor award. She believes the dog had some acting chops.
“I think that training a dog to have a certain behavior is impressive and a credit to the dog’s intelligence and the mastery of training techniques. But if you look at what Rin Tin Tin did, he seemed to understand that he was performing,” she says in the interview.
“Look at Clash of the Wolves, as he limps away from his pack to die alone. You watch the scene and can’t believe he didn’t know he was acting in the movie. He is grimacing and limping, he falls to the ground in agony. How would you train a dog to look depressed and act as if he’s resigned to a lonely death? I don’t know how you do that. Somehow, the dog knows he’s supposed to look miserable and contemplating his mortality.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1929, academy award, actor, animals, author, best actor, biography, book, books on dogs, canine, dog, dog books, dogs, emil jannings, films, german, german shepherd, germany, injustice, movies, oscar, pets, rin tin tin, snubbed, susan orlean