Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Runaway

On Friday, March 6, at 1:45 PM ET, TCM is showing a movie that took 45 years to see the light of day: The Runaway.

Roger Mobley plays the title role, Felipe, a Mexican boy with a very poor life. He crosses back and forth between the US and Mexican sides of the border, claiming that he's got family in the US, but keeps getting deported to Mexico. As the movie opens, he's living with an older couple that breeds dogs but, due to having committed some petty crime, has to leave. As he leaves, he takes one of the greyhound puppies with him. Felipe stows away on the truck of a Catholic priest, Father Duke (played by Cesar Romero), who lives on the American side of the border but does a lot of work on both sides. Unfortunately for Felipe, he's found out at the border. There's a bright side, though, which is that he is remanded to the custody of Fr. Duke, who takes him to his rectory in America.

What happens next is fairly predictable: the good father takes this boy under his wing, using the dog as a way to get to the boy's heart and turn him into a much better-behaved boy than he's been before. The dog being a greyhound, you also know that the two are going to turn to racing the dog (never mind the fact that greyhound racing is much less glamorous than it's portrayed to be in the movie).

The Runaway is a good family movie, although in the grand scheme of things it's nothing special. While much of what happens is predictable, that's not necessarily a bad thing when dealing with movies for your kids to watch. Mobley turns in a good performance as the boy, while Romero is equally good as the priest. And dogs are always nice to look at on the screen. The credits also claim that the nun in the movie is played by Anita Page. However, she hadn't made a movie for 25 years, and wouldn't make another movie for 35 more years afterwards

For some reason, the makers of this movie couldn't get a theatrical release at the time they made it (a fact which might have something to do with the paucity of credits). It lay languishing somewhere for 45 years, until TCM resurrected it and gave it its premiere in the fall of 2008. As a result, it also hasn't made its way to DVD, and it's probably not likely to any time soon. Still, if you've got kids, this is a good movie to record for them.

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