- 1 hr 39 min
Dondi is a black and white comedy-drama film released in 1961, directed by Albert Zugsmith and written by Robert Hardy Andrews. The movie is an adaptation of the comic strip of the same name by Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen. The story follows a 6-year-old orphan boy named Dondi, who wanders off a train during WWII and gets lost in the countryside. He eventually stumbles upon a small American town, where he is taken in by a group of soldiers training for combat. David Janssen, who is most famous for his role as Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, plays the role of Jerry Logan, a young soldier who becomes Dondi's adoptive father figure. Patti Page, a famous American singer of the time, plays Doctor Holliday, who takes care of Dondi's medical needs after he is found. Walter Winchell, a well-known news commentator, plays the role of himself and serves as the narrator throughout the movie. The film's opening sequence is a flashback to when Dondi gets lost on the train, and then it transitions to the present day, where we see soldiers at a training camp in the town of Oakdale. A group of soldiers, including Jerry Logan, are out on a training exercise when they stumble upon Dondi. The soldiers try to return him to the authorities, but the child seems to have developed a strong bond with Jerry and refuses to let go of him. Jerry and his fellow soldiers soon realize that Dondi needs more care than they can provide, so they turn to Doctor Holliday, who becomes his primary caregiver. Dondi quickly becomes a fixture in the town, befriending everyone he meets, including a local girl named Susan, who becomes his love interest. Dondi's charming and playful nature endears him to all, including the local police chief, who appoints him as Junior Police Chief. As the story progresses, we learn more about Dondi's background and how he ended up on the train. We also see the soldiers dealing with their personal and professional issues, as they prepare to head to war. Jerry begins to see Dondi as his own child, and the other soldiers become fond of him as well. However, the soldiers' training comes to an abrupt end when they are notified that they have been assigned to go to war. The final act of the film centers around the soldiers' preparations to leave and the effect it has on Dondi. We see Jerry struggling with the idea of leaving Dondi behind, while Dondi is heartbroken at the thought of losing his new family. The film ends on a bittersweet note as Dondi is reunited with his long-lost parents but has to say goodbye to Jerry and his new friends. Overall, Dondi is a heartwarming film that explores the themes of love, loss, and family. The story is centered around the innocent and charming character of Dondi and the impact he has on those around him. The film's cast delivers solid performances, with David Janssen doing an excellent job of portraying the complex emotions of Jerry Logan. Patti Page brings warmth and humanity to the character of Doctor Holliday, while Walter Winchell serves as an effective narrator. Dondi is a film that will appeal to fans of classic Hollywood comedies and dramas. The movie's historical setting and themes of war and family make it a timely and relevant story that still resonates with audiences today.