Challenge to Lassie is a sturdy entry in the canine star's series of films. Challenge benefits from being a version of Greyfriars Bobby, re-tailored for a collie, and while the story is not necessarily a better one than is typically found in a Lassie flick, it does provide for a nice change of period. As always, the film is a star vehicle, and a viewer's reaction is very heavily influenced by how much s/he likes the dog and, by extension, the kind of film that can star a non-human actor. In other words, animal lovers and those who like to have their heartstrings tugged and don't mind if the tugging is sometimes a bit obvious are likely to find the film the most enjoyable. Challenge does feature a very fine supporting cast, with especially nice turns from Donald Crisp and Edmund Gwenn and perfectly fine ones from Geraldine Brooks and Alan Webb, as well as smaller but still welcome assists from Alan Napier and Sara Allgood. Richard Thorpe directs ably, and the color lensing is very nice. As an added bonus, Andre Previn contributes a captivating score.
by Craig Butler review