Goodbye, My Lady: William Wellman’s Tale of Boy and Dog, Starring Brandon De Wilde

William A. Wellman directed Goodbye, My Lady, a sentimental boy-dog story, based on the 1954 novel Goodbye, My Lady by James H. Street, which was inspired by Street’s original 1941 story in The Saturday Evening Post.

Produced by John Wayne’s company, Batjac, the film stars vet Walter Brennan and child-actor Brandon De Wilde, with Sidney Poitier and Phil Harris in supporting roles.

A boy learns what it means to be assume the responsibility of a man by training a stray Basenji dog, which he is then forced to surrender to its rightful owner. Reportedly, the book’s readers and then film viewers were surprised by the story’s unexpected ending.

De Wilde, right after making a memorable impression in Shane, is well cast as Skeeter, a young orphan raised in a swamp cabin by his poor uncle, Jesse Jackson (Walter Brennan, toothless, of course.   One night, they discover a strange dog (My Lady of the Congo) that rather than barking has a yodel or laugh.  As the dog shows keen senses, she is trained by them for bird hunting.

Later on, Skeeter learns that an ad had been placed for a female Basenji lost in their swamp.  He Skeeter arranges for a telegram to be sent, and a representative of the dog’s rightful owner comes to take it back, forcing Skeeter to show maturity and surrender the animal. With the reward money given, he then purchases his uncle false teeth and put a down payment for a hunting rifle.