Parents' Guide to

Old Yeller

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Tearjerker is one of the best early Disney dramas.

Movie G 1957 84 minutes
Old Yeller Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 13 parent reviews

age 18+

Traumatized by this movie

Seriously commonsesnse? I was traumatized by this in 1975 and you are recommending it. A boy has to kill his hero dog. Horrible, traumatizing subject.
age 8+

Life Lessons None Can Avoid

Death is a difficult subject, but it’s better to have your child attempt to grasp it from a fiction novel than real life events. I wanted my son to read it to help him come to terms with the cycle of life. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, and we certainly can’t shelter our children all their lives. I recommend this book for any child who is mature enough to handle real life issues and parents who are continuously preparing their children with the coping mechanisms necessary to grow with the hardships of life.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (13 ):
Kids say (21 ):

This classic family film is a touching tale. The scene when Jim returns, as Travis and his friend Lisbeth are burying Old Yeller, is particularly meaningful. Jim tells him that the loss of Yeller is "not a thing you can forget. Maybe not a thing you want to forget. ... Now and then, for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat. … I'll tell you a trick that's sometimes a big help. Start looking around for something good to take the place of the bad."

Jim's talk with Travis is a model of parental wisdom, understanding, and patience. He accepts and validates Travis' feelings completely, and does not try to minimize or talk him out of them. (Contrast that with Lisbeth, who tries to comfort Travis by encouraging him to "come to like the pup.") Instead of telling him what to do, he says, "I'll tell you a trick that's sometimes a big help," letting him decide for himself whether to take the advice. Travis was not just reluctant to adopt Old Yeller at first -- he was downright hostile because of the loss of his first dog, Belle. That, at the end of the movie, he is able to accept Young Yeller more easily shows how much he has grown up.

Movie Details

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