Comic fluff about a bachelor who becomes caretaker for a gigantic Saint Bernard, the Swiss/US coproduction George! is an awkward hybrid of American and European elements. Most of the action takes place in the glorious hills and valleys of the Swiss Alps, and the music is suitable for an Oktoberfest celebration. Yet affable leading man Marshall Thompson, who also produced the picture and wrote the storyline, leads an unmistakably American quality, and the whole enterprise is derivative of a zillion cute-animal pictures from the Disney assembly line. Many scenes feature the gigantic dog knocking objects over, rocking cars back and forth, and smothering people while affectionately licking their faces. Animal lovers and very small children will get more out of this picture than anyone else, because the pleasures of George! are meager and trite. Still, it’s hard to begrudge a gentle comedy celebrating the values of companionship, loyalty, and personal growth. Moreover, if you’re completely unmoved by the novel sight of a Saint Bernard slipping into his favorite napping spot, the protagonist’s bathtub, then you’re better than me at resisting canine charms.
Jim (Thompson) is an American pilot who lives and works in the Alps, enjoying an idyllic existence until his sister asks him to look after George while she takes an extended vacation. At first, George cramps Jim’s style, especially when he tries to reconnect with an old girlfriend, sexy flight attendant Erika (Ingeborg Schöner). After one too many instances of George causing mischief, Jim puts the dog in a shelter. (It’s not as heartless as it sounds.) Alas, George has grown attached to his guardian, so a lengthy escape/rescue sequence involving snow-capped mountains ensues. Dorky and old-fashioned, George! drifts along pleasantly without ever taking flight, so the picture gets by on cuteness and wholesomeness instead of actual hilarity. (Costar Jack Mullaney adds a few caustic moments, to little avail.) Yet it’s not as if the picture strives for something and fails—rather, it aspires to provide generic family entertainment and does so, just barely. Thompson and the big dog reunited shortly after the film’s release for a TV series with the same title, which ran on Canadian television for one season.