Everyone's favorite collie returns to the screen -- and to her native home back in Britain -- in director Charles Sturridge
's faithful adaptation of author Eric Knight
's sentimental kid and canine novel Lassie Come Home
. When Lassie saves a fox from the hunting hounds of the duke of Rudling (Peter O'Toole
), the captivated nobleman becomes obsessed with the idea of purchasing the collie for his adoring granddaughter Cilla (Hester Odgers). Unfortunately for Rudling, the pooch already has a loving family in the form of kindly miner Sam Carraclough (John Lynch
), his wife, Sarah (Samantha Morton
), and their young son, Joe (Jonathan Mason). When Sam is laid off from his job, however, he is forced to sell the loyal dog to the duke in order to put food on the family table. Incensed at the dog's repeated attempts to escape and seek out her original loving family, the villainous duke charges kennel-keeper Eddie Hynes (Steve Pemberton
) with the task of teaching Lassie how to stay as World War II looms ever more heavy on the horizon. When the dogs of war finally stop barking and start biting, Rudling beats a hasty retreat to the safety of northern Scotland with both the child and the canine. Realizing that her newfound companion is far from the people she cares about most, Cilla later helps her ever-loyal four-legged friend escape from the family's heavily fortified compound so that she may begin the 500-mile journey back home to Yorkshire.