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The Painted Hills is a movie starring canine star Lassie as Shep.
Shep is the companion of a grizzled old prospector named Johnathan, who returns from the wilderness to find his partner in his current venture died, leaving behind a particularly whiny kid (Tommy), and an Obviously Evil lawyer (Taylor) in charge of the partnership. Johnathan leaves Shep behind to help Tommy before returning to the mountains; but Shep soon goes on a hunger strike to bring Tommy and Taylor to Johnathan's cabin just in time to save the prospector from dying of fever, thanks to the strange bond between dog and man. While the duo is there, they join Johnathan in panning for gold -- and the prospector shows them where he'd been stashing the dust he's collected so far. Inevitably, Taylor catches Gold Fever, and murders the grizzled old guy before Shep's eyes.
Shep immediately begins stalking Taylor seeking vengeance. Lots of contrivances happen along the way, but in the end justice is served, as it must be in movies like this. Afterwards, Shep is ready to die alone in the mountains, but the voice of Tommy in the distance convinces the dog to live.
The Painted Hills has examples of the following tropes:
- Chewing the Scenery: Believe it or not, the dog does it after she's been poisoned -- lying on her side, kicking up dirt, and whining loudly.
- Crazy Survivalist: Pilot Pete
- Deus Ex Machina: Taylor's final attempt to kill Shep off once and for all is foiled by his gun freezing solid.
- Informed Attribute: At the start of the film, Tommy's mother worries that he "hasn't cried once" over the death of his father; but once Tommy appears on screen, the very first thing he does is burst into tears. Completely unmotivated, at that.
- Infant Immortality: Taylor had Tommy at his mercy... and spared him.
- Start of Darkness: Taylor almost seems like an okay guy, genuinely looking out for his clients' interests; but he sees that there really is gold in them thar hills and becomes Obviously Evil.
- Revenge of Lassie.
- Spider Sense: Shep's Batman Gambit to get Tommy and Taylor to bring her to the besickened Jonathan. "Shep knew!" Tommy gasps. How did Shep know?
- Tempting Fate: Jonathan doesn't believe Taylor would kill him because "You don't have the guts!" Of course, later on this comes around to bite Jonathan in the hinder. Or, more accurately, push him off the cliff.
- Taylor even lampshades this trope at the moment Jonathan is offed.
- You No Take Candle: The Native Americans. Natch.