Stray Dog 2014
Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Directed by Debra Granik
DVD, color, 88 min.
High School - General Adult
Aging, Biography, Counseling, Disabilities, Family Relations, Mental Health, Military, Vietnam War
Date Entered: 07/26/2017Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Ron “Stray Dog” Hall is a biker and owner/operator of the At Ease RV Park in southern Missouri. A Vietnam veteran, he is both a patriot and critic of the U.S. military and Veterans Administration. He is active in the veteran communities, regularly attending memorial services for other soldiers, talking with younger veterans about their combat experiences, and coming to the aid of friends and family members in need of financial or emotional support. Although he believes he was prematurely thrown into leadership positions in Vietnam, and still suffers psychologically as a result, he now is a quiet and steadfast mentor and advisor in his community. Under a tough, tattooed exterior, he is a gentle, caring husband, friend, and small dog owner.
Director Granik, who met Hall during the making of her award-winning film Winter’s Bone (2010), presents an interesting biographical sketch of her subject. Rather than directly addressing the larger issues of war, post-traumatic stress disorder, remorse, and regret, Granik shows viewers the daily life and emotional struggles of one man. It’s a subtle but no less powerful statement on how poorly the U.S. government treats its veterans, and a reminder to all viewers not to judge too quickly a worn and hardened biker by his outward appearance.