Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, June 23, 2019

You Will Love Sgt. Stubby *

* Unless, of course, you are one of those fastidious military history obsessives, who insists every historic detail be accurate to the nth degree and the entire narrative purged of all sentimentality.  If this be the case, PLEASE, DO NOT READ ON.

Stubby and His Mates in the Trenches

After a long, long wait, NETFLIX finally sent us the number one request on our queue, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.  In case you're not familiar with the good sergeant, Stubby was a real war dog, who was wounded in action and decorated for his heroism. Adopted by the troops of the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th, Yankee Division, he followed his caretaker, Private Bob Conroy, to the trenches. The division saw a lot of action, so the animated film mostly focuses on two major operations,  their initial deployment along the Chemin des Dames when they were introduced to gas warfare and the Seicheprey Raid of April 1918,  in which Stubby and Conroy's outfit, the 102nd Infantry were the main targets.

The Real Stubby and the Division Arriving Home

It's a family movie, so some (but not all) of the harsher sides of combat are filtered out. There are a few historical errors and a lot of stretching and "cutting and pasting" of history, but I didn't find it too distracting. On the other hand, for me,  the illustrators and writers capture the dangers and spectacle of war wonderfully.  The camaraderie among the troops is also well explored, with  the inner group of soldiers including a French soldier, voiced by Gerard Depardieu, who seems to be allowed to travel with the Yanks from sector to sector.  He's a swell addition in any case.

Reading a Letter from Home

I liked the style of animation used in Sgt. Stubby, although of a different technique, it seemed to me to have a feel similar to the Wallace and Grommit, films.  It's not visually overwhelming like the recent super-hero flicks Hollywood is cranking out. Speaking of Hollywood—Sgt. Stubby is not a "Hollywood" movie. Watching the credits, I learned the main production was in Canada, the financing was from Ireland (!), and a good part of the cast (the voices) was non-American, like Depardieu, and Helen Bonham Carter, who does a fine job as Robert's sister Margaret, the main narrator of the film.

Try to see Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.  You'll love it and so will the kids in your family.


  1. I took my 3 Granddaughters when it was here in the theater. We enjoyed it! Great review. Thanks.

  2. I just searched on Netflix and nothing came up. I googled "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero Netflix" and it showed up. Pushed the "play" button and it said "not available in your region (US)".