on April 25, 1997 by Stephenie Slahor
   There've been a number of boy-and-his-dog family movies that have been winners, and "Shiloh" adds itself to that list. Bearing all the elements Walt Disney said a family movie must possess: make audiences laugh, make them cry, make them think and give them a happy ending. "Shiloh's" only drawback is it's a bit too intense for very young children. The villain doesn't hesitate to abuse dogs or practice physical or mental cruelty.
   The film's basic premise is typical (he followed me home, can I keep him?) but "Shiloh" goes beyond that. Marty Preston (Blake Heron) is on a rescue mission to save a dog from the savagery he knows it will suffer from its rightful owner Judd Travers (Scott Wilson). Judd is a swindler, liar, abuser and cheat with no redeeming qualities; when one of his dogs, Shiloh, runs away and bonds with Marty, Shiloh is returned but escapes once again; this time, Marty refuses to give the dog back. Marty gets little backing from parents but does get help from Doc (Rod Steiger), a kindly grandfather of Marty's best friend who explains that one must often fight hard for the things one loves. Marty makes a pact with Judd, work in exchange for Shiloh--but when the work is done Judd breaks the agreement. But, in true boy-and-his-dog fashion, Judd relents.
   Audiences might feel that Judd doesn't get a proper comeuppance, but they can warm with the knowledge that Marty and Shiloh win in the end. Set in West Virginia and bearing comforting music (by Joel Goldsmith), "Shiloh" creates a place where small-town life still thrives. W.C. Fields' famously admonished about films with kids and dogs, and here the comedian is proved right. Marty and Shiloh steal this movie; even the dog's few "lines"--spoken in beagle bark--are endearing.    Starring Michael Moriarty, Blake Heron, Scott Wilson and Rod Steiger. Directed and written by Dale Rosenbloom. Produced by Zane W. Levitt and Dale Rosenbloom. A Legacy release. Drama. Rated PG for mild violence. Running time: 93 min
Tags: Michael Moriarty, Blake Heron, Scott Wilson, Rod Steiger, Dale Rosenbloom, Zane W. Levitt, Legacy, Drama, Shiloh, dog, Marty Preston, Judd Travers

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