When one mentions famous movie dogs, these names usually spring to mind: Lassie, Old Yeller, and Benji. Made in 1974, Benji features the lovable titular mutt who gets mixed up in all kinds of outlandish adventures, and possesses the uncanny ability to solve deep human problems by simply showing up and looking adorable for the camera.
Dated filmmaking? You bet, but keep in mind this was when Hollywood didn’t have computer-generated effects, and movie-makers had to rely on expertly trained dogs to follow their cues. Benji was played by a shelter dog named Higgins.
Benji was very successful in its initial release, as the $500,000 production went on to gross $40 million in America, snag an Academy Award nomination for Best Song (“Benji’s Theme (I Feel Love)”), and spawn seven sequels. Today Benji is available on Blu-ray from Gaiam for $14.98 (MSRP).