“Plato the Greek or Rin Tin Tin,
Who’s more famous to the billion millions?”
The Clash – “The Magnificent Seven”
There is a difference between being featured in a movie, and starring in a movie. And even if an animal is listed in the movie’s title, it does not necessarily mean they are the star of the film. They could be the co-star, for example. (i.e.: the buddy cop film which features a human detective and a canine as his or her partner.) And if you are cute and adorable, the animal can steal the movie away from their leading human star. With all this in mind, this list is a lot tougher to compile than I initially thought.
Adding another layer of difficulty to the mix is the fact that I generally hate live-action animal movies. I think the director and movie studio go over-the-top in their ham-fisted sentimentality. These films tend to overload on cutesy schmaltz, and the morals are bluntly hammered over our heads over and over with zero sense of discretion. They also tend to make the humans act as stupid as possible, in order the make the animal more sympathetic. That is why I have only one of those types of movies on my list. It’s ending is one of the most famous, and has been copied, imitated, and parodied more than any other film I can think of.
That means that this list is tailor-made for animated feature films. But we left it open for both live-action and animated films. I held off almost all of the Disney animated catalog because I want to do a Disney-only list some time in the future. This list is to give other studios a moment in the limelight.
One last thing that I learned is that there are fewer horse movies than I originally imagined. Considering their popularity, their gentle nature, and the popularity of the My Little Pony cartoon amongst adults, it was quite a surprise to discover that the lists of horse-starring movies was so small.
Good news – no animals were hurt in the making of these lists.
The Top Ten movies starring animals
- 10. Lassie (1954)
- 9. Seabiscuit (2003)
- 8. Turner & Hooch (1989)
- 7. The Lion King (1994)
- 6. Charlotte’s Web (1973) (the animated version)
- 5. Finding Nemo (2003)
- 4. Babe (1995)
- 3. The Fox & The Hound (1981)
- 2. Jaws (1975)
- 1. My Dog Skip (2000)
Honorable Mentions: 101 Dalmatians (1961); A Bug’s Life (1998); Alvin + The Chipmunks (2007); Bambi (1942); Benji (1974); Bolt (2008); Dolphin Tale (2011); Dumbo (1941); Free Willy (1993); Gorillas in the Mist (1988); Ice Age (2002); K-9 (1989); Kung Fu Panda (2008); Life of Pi (2012); Madagascar (2005); Marley & Me (2008); Old Yeller (1957); Over the Hedge (2006); Planet of the Apes (1968); Project X (1987); The Black Stallion (1979).
- 10. Old Yeller (1957)
- 9. The Yearling (1946)
- 8. The Birds (1963)
- 7. Babe (1995)
- 6. Bolt (2008)
- 5. Rango (2011)
- 4. Seabiscuit (2003)
- 3. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
- 2. Watership Down (1978)
- 1. Jaws (1975)
Honorable Mentions: Arachnophobia (1990); Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009); King Kong (1933); The Black Stallion (1979); The Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009.
Next Podcast Unlimited List: Top Ten sidekicks.