Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Old Yeller (1957)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Old Yeller (1957)

In Disney's live-action family-related drama, a sentimental boy-and-dog tale with a tragic (but hopeful) ending, about a faithful stray yellow Labrador dog known as Old Yeller in post-Civil War (late 1860s) in Texas:

  • the opening title sequence with the thematic folk song about the famed golden retriever dog: "Old Yeller Old Yeller Old Yeller, Here, Yeller Come back Yeller, Best doggone dog in the west, Old Yeller was a mongrel, An ugly lop-eared mongrel, Fancy free without a family tree, But he could up and do it, And prove there's nothin' to it, And that's how a good dog should be..."
  • the Coates family: Jim (Fess Parker), his wife Katie (Dorothy McGuire), and two sons: teenaged Travis (Tommy Kirk) and young Arliss (Kevin Corcoran); when Jim left for 3-4 months on a cattle drive, he told Travis: "Well, son, while I'm gone, you'll be the man of the house....There'll be the pigs to mark, fresh meat to shoot. And mainly, there's the corn patch. If you don't work it right, we'll be without bread this winter. It's sure enough a man-sized job. Think you can handle old Jumper when he's hooked up to a plough?"; he was promised a horse upon his return: "You act a man's part, and I'll bring you a man's horse"
Jim (Fess Parker)
Katie (Dorothy McGuire)
Arliss (Kevin Corcoran)
  • the introduction of Old Yeller, initially involved in spooking the family mule that then destroyed some crops and fences; the dog was also involved in stealing smokehouse meat, dipping into the drinking-water pond with Arliss, and robbing eggs from hens' nests
Old Yeller Swimming with Arliss
Saving Arliss From Angry Mother Bear
Standoff with Family Cow Rose
  • the episodic scenes in which stray Old Yeller gallantly and heroically protected young Travis, Arliss and the family during many threatening animal incidents, including an angry black bear mother, corn crop-eating raccoons, and their protective mother cow named Rose
  • the arrival of Burn Sanderson (Chuck Connors) who claimed that Old Yeller was his own runaway dog - but when Arliss strenuously objected, Sanderson agreed to swap Old Yeller for one big-horned toad and a home-cooked meal after asking: "You mean you really want that thievin', old yeller dog?...Now, if you could talk your mama into feedin' me one, big woman-cooked meal why, I figure it and that horned toad would be worth at least a lop-eared yeller dog, don't you?"
  • further threats included rampaging wild feral boars (causing a bite-injury to Travis' leg and severe bloody wounds to Old Yeller); Travis was forced to shoot and kill their cow Rose afflicted with rabies ("hydrophoby"), and later, a rabid wolf bit Old Yeller in the neck when he intervened to again protect the family - the vicious fight ended when Travis shot the wolf dead; Katie feared the worst: "It was lucky for us, son, but it weren't lucky for Old Yeller...That wolf was mad. I'll shoot him if you can't. But either way, we've got it to do"
  • after quarantining Old Yeller in the corn-crib for a few weeks, Travis realized that he must pull the rifle trigger on his dying and rabid companion when the dog growled and appeared to be infected with rabies; he reacted to his mother who appeared with a rifle in her hands: "No, Mama!" - she responded: "There's no hope for him now, Travis. He's suffering. You know we've got to do it"; Travis reluctantly agreed: "I know Mama. He was my dog. I'll do it"
  • the tearjerking sequence of the heart-rending death of faithful Old Yeller (shot off-screen) by a tearful Travis
Euthanasia for Rabid Dog
  • the conclusion when Travis initially couldn't accept Old Yeller's offspring, a new puppy: "He may be part Old Yeller, but he ain't Old Yeller"; when his father returned home, he offered praise and sound advice about losing his beloved dog: "As rough a thing as I ever heard tell of. But I'm mighty proud of how my boy stood up to it. Couldn't ask no more of a grown man. Thing to do now is try and forget it. Go on bein' a man...What I'm tryin' to say is, life's like that sometimes...Well, now and then, for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat. Slam him again' the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted. But it's not all like that. A lot of it's mighty fine. And you can't afford to waste the good part frettin' about the bad. That makes it all bad. You understand what I'm tryin' to get at?...Sayin' it's one thing, and feelin' it's another. But I'll tell you a trick that's sometimes a big help. You start lookin' around for somethin' good to take the place of the bad. As a general rule, you can find it"
Old Yeller's Puppy Replacement: "Young Yeller"
  • Travis decided to replace Old Yeller with the new puppy, when he saw the "Young Yeller" with the same penchant for stealing and dragging off some venison: "Looks like it's about time I started learnin' this old pup to earn his keep...He's big enough to learn if he's big enough to act like Old Yeller" - the theme song began again: "Young Yeller is a puppy. A little ol' lop-eared puppy. It's plain to see he's got a family tree. The image of his pappy. He's frisky and he's happy. And that's how a good pup should be, frisky and happy..."

Old Yeller - Title Sequence

Departure of Jim - Travis (Tommy Kirk) Assigned to be "Man of the House"

Rambunctious Old Yeller

The Threat of Taking Old Yeller Away by Owner Burn Sanderson (Chuck Connors)

Travis Saved From Wild Boars by Old Yeller

Injured Old Yeller

Travis Recuperating From an Injury - a Wild Boar Bite

Travis Forced to Shoot Rabid Cow Rose

Old Yeller vs. Rabid Wolf

Advice From Travis' Father About Accepting A Major Loss


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z