Baxter in ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ (2004)
Of all the crazy ways that poor dogs go flying in the movies, nothing beats Jack Black killing the only thing Ron Burgundy loves by punting Baxter off a bridge. Watch the clip to the end for Ron’s ‘I’m in a glass case of emotion’ meltdown glory.
The Rottweiler in ‘Lethal Weapon’ (1987)
When the script landed on the mat of his kennel, the Rottweiler in ‘Lethal Weapon’ must have wagged his tail with doggy-joy. ‘Woof! I sic Mel Gibson!’ But then he read on and pulled a puppy-dog face. ‘I’ve got to smooch him?’ The story does not end well. After filming, Mel adopted the Rottweiler.
Sam the German Shepherd in ‘I Am Legend’ (2007)
There are lots or reasons why a dog would be a man’s best friend in the event of the apocalypse (until there were no tins of beans left in the cupboard and Fido starts looking like Sunday roast material). In ‘I Am Legend’, Will Smith and Samantha have been together alone for three years in New York battling a mutant virus. You’d need ice in your heart not to well up when Sam succumbs.
The mad dog in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)
Hasn’t this mutt got enough in his dog bowl with being lumbered with a human name, Tim Johnson? No. He gets infected with rabies and then Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) shoots him dead. Atticus Finch! A man who is practically a living saint. Why so much misery? To give the Finch kids a life lesson: doing the right thing ain’t always easy.
The labrador puppy in 'Apocalypse Now' (1979)
Talk about childhood trauma. After its owner is brutally machine-gunned, this cuddly little fella might be forgiven for thinking that the worst of its worries are over. But it gets grabbed by the scruff of the neck by one very angry chef and carried through the worst battle of the war in the company of an acid-fried surfer. The pup’s fate remains unclear at the end of the film. Did he doggy-paddle to safety? We like to think so.
Mrs Coady's terriers in 'A Fish Called Wanda' (1988)
Pity Michael Palin – it’s hard to be an animal lover and an assassin at the same time (not to mention that crippling stutter). Attempting to knock off elderly Mrs Coady, Palin instead ends up offing her pooches. One gets munched by a Rottweiler. One falls under a black cab. The last gets squished by a ten-ton concrete block. Still, at least Ken attends all three funerals.
Bonny the Shih Tzu in ‘Seven Psychopaths’ (2012)
Has someone spiked Bonny the Shih Tzu’s Pedigree Chum with Temazepam? He’s got all the get up and go of a neutered pussycat. Maybe it’s the trauma of being caught like a divorced child in the tug-of-war between his psychopathic daddy Woody Harrelson and psychopathic dognapper Sam Rockwell? Or maybe Woody’s crazy-eyed over-acting is giving him a migraine?
The dog in ‘Alien3’ (1992)
Call this one second time lucky. If you saw ‘Alien3’ at the cinema in 1992, you watched an alien burst out of the prison dog. But – call the agent! – he was replaced by an ox in the 2003 Assembly Cut. Eight out of ten voters in a fansite survey preferred dogburster to oxburster.
Pippet in ‘Jaws’ (1975)
Why doesn’t police chief Brody’s dog finish up as shark bait in the beach scene? Because the Brody family dog actually belonged to ‘Jaws’ director Steven Spielberg. His real name was Elmer (he appeared in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ too). So the black labrador gets it instead.
The terrier in ‘Rear Window’ (1954)
Hitchcock had a thing about dogs. He was partial to a Sealyham Terrier (the celebrity dog of choice in the 1950s, owned by Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant). But clearly he liked his dogs like he liked his leading ladies, so a pampered pooch comes a cropper in this extraordinary scene in ‘Rear Window’.
In Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’, one of Emma Watson’s gang of girl thieves wants to steal Paris Hilton’s handbag dog. Over the decades, the movies have inflicted all sorts of misery – dognapping, rabies, Mel Gibson – on pooches looking for a comfy pair of slippers. Cath Clarke and Tom Huddleston document the 10 unluckiest mutts in cinema.