Good-bye, My Lady (1956): Coming of Age Tale Starring Brandon De Wilde and Sidney Poitier

William Wellman directed this well-acted adaptation of James H. Street’s novel of the same title, which was inspired by Street’s original 1941 story in The Saturday Evening Post.

Produced by John Wayne’s company, Batjac, the film stars Walter Brennan, Brandon De Wilde, and Sidney Poitier in a supporting role, a year or two before he became a major star with the release of the 1958 The Defiant Ones.

Brandon De Wilde, fresh off from his breakthrough role in Sahne, plays a young orphan named Skeeter (Brandon De Wilde), who’s raised in a swamp cabin by his poor Uncle Jesse Jackson (Walter Brennan, toothless of course).

One night they discover a strange breed of dog (My Lady of the Congo) that rather than bark has a yodel. When the dog reveals sharp senses, they decide to train her for bird hunting. Skeeter then sees an ad for a female Basenji lost in their swamp.  The boy sends a telegram and a representative (William Hopper) of the dog’s rightful owner arrives to retrive his dog.

Forced to surrender the dog, Skeeter uses the $100 reward to purchase Jesse the teeth that he needs, and put a down payment on a hunting rifle.

As written and acted, “Goodbye, My Lady” is a charming coming of age tale that occupies an honorable place in the genre of a child and a pet.

Contrary to most genre items, which end in a reunion between the boy or girl and their beloved lost or sold dog, this one surprised viewers (and readers before them) with its unexpected ending, showing a mature boy demonstrating what it means to be a responsible and honorable man.