Future Democratic Senator from California George Murphy and future Republican First Lady Nancy Reagan star in a total waste of time about a twelve year old boy who thinks a stranger in the neighborhood killed his dog. The boy is played by Billy Gray who TV sitcom fans know as Bud on “Father Knows Best” (1954-60). The movie is based on a story by mystery writer Charlotte Armstrong. Look for character actors Kathleen Freeman, Burt Mustin and Harry Lauter in minor roles.
On Halloween night Robert Fontaine,Jr. (Billy Gray) and his pals break a window in a house they thought was abandoned. An angry man opens the front door and they all run off. Billy lifted his mask so the man knows who he is. The man is named Matlock (Kurt Kasznar).
Robert,Sr. (George Murphy) tries to calm his son down and they go to see Matlock and tell him the window will be paid for. Bob,Jr. is obsessed with buying a dog with his money saved from his paper route but the window may come first. Matlock says he bought the house from Dr.Paul Mahler. That’s news to Bob,Sr.
One day in town Bob,Jr. is set to make his newspaper rounds. For some reason a stray dog takes a shine to him and follows him wherever he goes. Bob,Sr. and Marge Fontaine (Nancy Davis) let him keep him. Bob,Jr. calls the dog Boy. The next day he tries to sell a subscription to Matlock. Boy runs into the house and breaks a vase. Matlock hurries him outside. Needles to say, he’s not happy.
Bob,Jr. has to go into town and get a birthday present for Camille. She’s the granddaughter of the newspaper publisher Mr.Wardlaw. He has to leave Boy home because there’s a leash law in town and he doesn’t have a license for the dog. Instead of the present, he buys a license. When he gets home the dog is gone. He finds him outside Matlock’s house…poisoned. Bob,Jr. confronts Matrlock but he says he doesn’t know anything about it and slams the door in his face.
Bob,Jr. is convinced Matlock did it and wants Wardlaw to put it in the paper. He says he needs proof first. An angry Bob,Jr. runs to Matlock’s oil tank and starts pounding away. Wardlaw stops him and tells him to do some investigating. He finds out that Martlock bought some hamburger and some rat poison.
Bob,Jr. sneaks into Matlock’s garage and sees an open box of rat poison. He grabs the car registration which is made out to Dr.Mahler. Wardlaw tries to contact him but the phone is disconnected. Bob,Jr. hitchhikes to Mahler’s address about fifty miles away. The house is boarded up and a local kid says people think he was murdered. He hitchhikes back home. After Bob.Sr. reads him the riot act he sneaks out and goes back to the garage to put the registration back. Matlock catches him and demands that he leave him alone. Then Bob,Jr. does something stupid.
The movie almost put me to sleep. The ending was awful and makes you wonder why you stuck with this yawn-a-thon.