Scorsese: For your consideration, Blackie
When it comes to the Golden Collar Awards for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film, how could Blackie the Doberman not be nominated for its role in 'Hugo'?
Blackie the Doberman in "Hugo." (Jaap Buitendijk / 35mm)
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I have been cautioned against speaking out on this issue lest I create the appearance of churlishness. Well, I'm going to have to risk it.
One recent morning, I turned on the television, and imagine my surprise when I heard the nominations for the first Golden Collar Awards for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. After all, we had Blackie the Doberman in our movie. How could she not be nominated?
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I listened in vain for Blackie's name to be called, and then to all the hullabaloo over a certain Jack Russell terrier named Uggie. Actually, Uggie is so adorable that he received two nominations for two separate pictures. Well done.
OK, let's lay all our cards on the table. Jack Russell terriers are small and cute. Dobermans are enormous and — handsome. More tellingly, Uggie plays a nice little mascot who does tricks and saves his master's life in one of the films, while Blackie gives an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorizes children. I'm sure you can see what I'm driving at.
We all have fond memories of Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, the big stars, the heroes, but what about the antiheroes? We have learned to accept the human antihero, but when it comes to dogs, I guess we still have a long way to go.
I'm proud of Blackie, who laid it on the line and dared to risk the sympathy of her audience. Let's just say that on the set, she had a fitting nickname: Citizen Canine. The bath scene alone is a masterpiece of underplaying, with Blackie's wonderfully aquiline face accentuated by the 3-D.
I detect another, more deep-seated prejudice at work. Jack Russell terriers were bred in the 19th century for the purposes of fox hunting by an Englishman, the Rev. John Russell. Dobermans were bred by a German tax collector who was afraid of being bludgeoned to death by the citizenry. But does that mean we must condemn the entire breed? Must we forget the magnificent physical achievements of such legendary Dobermans as Bingo von Ellendonk (who achieved a perfect score in the storied Schutzhund competition), Borong the Warlock, Baracuda Liborium or Caravelle Drillbit?
In short, I protest the omission of Blackie the Doberman from the first Golden Collar nominations. Moreover, I encourage all Times readers to make their preference known to the editors of Dog News Daily by write-in ballot and give Blackie the nomination she so richly deserves.
Martin Scorsese is the director of "Hugo."