Adapted by True Boardman from Alexander Hull‘s novel Shep of the Painted Hills, the film stars Paul Kelly, Bruce Cowling, Ann Doran, and dog actor Pal (credited as “Lassie“) in a story about a collie named Shep who seeks revenge after her master is murdered. Technical advisor Nipo T. Strongheart for Native American topics worked with the Miwok people for their role in the movie.
The Painted Hills was the seventh, and final, MGM Lassie film released.
A prospector named Jonathan Harvey (Paul Kelly), whose faithful companion is a rough collie named Shep, looks after the family of his late partner, Martha Blake (Ann Doran) and her son Tommy (Gary Gray). After years of digging in the hills of California (where the movie was shot), he finally strikes gold. However, before he can share it with the Blakes, his greedy partner Lin Taylor (Bruce Cowling) kills Jonathan and attempts to lay claim on the gold. He poisons Shep, who nearly dies, and nearly kills Tommy, but ultimately Shep recovers and leads Lin into the mountains, where he falls off a cliff to his death.