Wed 21 Mar 2012
If there ever was a book that fits the Lost Cowboy esthetic it is Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean. I enjoyed this book immensely. Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend is the story of the iconic movie and TV dog, Rin Tin Tin, and it reads alternately like a great adventure story, Hollywood biography and memoir and is totally riveting.
The story of Rin Tin Tin begins on the battlefields of Word War I where a puppy is rescued and brought back to the United States for one of the most amazing stories in the history of the motion picture medium. And that’s not hyperbole.
About Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend: “‘He believed the dog was immortal.’ So begins Susan Orlean’s sweeping, powerfully moving story of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon. From the moment in 1918 when Corporal Lee Duncan discovers Rin Tin Tin on a World War I battlefield, he recognizes something in the pup that he needs to share with the world. Rin Tin Tin’s improbable introduction to Hollywood leads to the dog’s first blockbuster film and over time, the many radio programs, movies, and television shows that follow. The canine hero’s legacy is cemented by Duncan and a small group of others who devote their lives to keeping him and his descendants alive.”
In this day and age when we know everything about everyone, it is interesting to look back at figures from our past we have heard about but know little about. I have said before that I enjoy biographies of figures whose lives spanned the 20th century. In Rin Tin Tin, Ms. Orleans (an accomplish writer of great renowned) brings us such a tale, even though the original Rinty (as he was kn own) lived a relatively short time. It is the legacy of the great movie dog and the people whose lives centered around him and his descendants, and still do, that make the story and Rinty immortal.
At its heart, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend is a biography of the dog and his master, Lee Duncan, but it is also a pop culture history, and most touchingly, a personal story of Ms. Orleans own longing for what was behind her childhood fascination with Rinty and the statue of the icon her grandfather had.
I loved every minute I spent reading Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and now count myself among the legions of fans past and present who have fallen under the spell of the great movie dog.