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"The Shaggy Dog" is a delightful live-action comedy, the first of many to emerge from the Walt Disney Studios during the late 50s - through the early 80s. Although firmly rooted in the late 1950s the film has many charms, mosty noticeably its innocence, pure situation comedy and perfect pitch performances by a cast of film veterans. Is the film a classic - no. Is it worth watching, by all means. It's a wonderfully entertaining Disney family film and it holds up quite well, even for today's jaded audiences. If you can't find the appeal in this film well, then your mature beyond all hope. Enjoy!
There seems to be some confusion about exactly what place in film
history The Shaggy Dog has. First and foremost it is not Walt Disney's
first live action film, but it is the first live action big screen
comedy that he did. It is also the first film that Disney did with Fred
For MacMurray this was a big film. His career was in the doldrums at that point and this film brought him to his final phase of his career as the star of family oriented comedies. He got a television series, My Three Sons, after this and that together with the Disney films kept him steadily working for the next fifteen years.
Though MacMurray is the star along with Jean Hagen as his wife, the film's title role is played in part by Tommy Kirk. Kirk is a young teenager with a lot of angst and an abiding interest in the space program. So much so he constructs his own rocket in his basement and it has an unscheduled launch to open the film. A generation later, this bit was copied in Family Matters by Steve Urkel.
Anyway he's got a healthy set of hormones as well and a rivalry with the smooth talking Tim Considine down the street. Both are hot to trot for Annette Funicello, but when Roberta Shore shows up with father Alexander Scourby, both go after her as well.
Roberta's the only weakness in the film. For someone who is foreign, she has one cheesy accent and at times just drops it altogether. She's also got a large shaggy dog named Chiffon.
Anyway while at a museum young Mr. Kirk gets a hold of an enchanted ring and repeats a spell that causes him to enter the body of the neighbor's shaggy dog. And he discovers that in fact Scourby and his confederates are spies.
What follows after as Kirk periodically changes from talking dog to teenager is still pretty hilarious. Fred MacMurray gets a lot of laughs as the man who gets the credit for exposing the spy ring which son Kirk can't really claim.
James Westerfield, one delightful character actor in everything he does, makes the first of three appearances as Officer Hanson, the much put upon patrol cop in this, The Absent Minded Professor and Son of Flubber. Best moment in the film is when Kirk as The Shaggy Dog steals Westerfield's police vehicle in pursuit of the villains.
I'm still amazed at how well the ancient special effects still work in this film. Disney took some meticulous care in doing the scenes with the dog. You really do think The Shaggy Dog is driving those vehicles and not some guy dressed in a dog costume. Good thing it was a large Shaggy Dog though, a Chihuahua would not have worked as well.
Still working well today.
This is a classic Disney film. Fred MacMurray and others make this a joy to watch. I have seen it several times and always enjoy it...my children even agree with me on this. Contrary to another comment, I believe it has held up very well over the years, though it is dated by virtue of the fact that it reflects the comedy of the period in which it was filmed. I've seen several of the remakes/sequels and none have equalled the original.
Funny show about a boy who turns into a dog after coming under an ancient spell. This, of course, leads to all sorts of trouble and adventures. Fred McMurray played the part of the put upon dad to perfection, he had me rolling in the floor. Also, the cops who couldn't quite believe their eyes tickled my funnybone, and they put on quite a show with their comical car chase. Silly Disney stuff to be sure, but lots of fun.
The "Wild & Woolly" DVD edition of 1959's THE SHAGGY DOG (and some product reviews and posts found here) claim this film is the "first live action movie ever produced by Walt Disney!" I guess all those other live action features Walt produced PRIOR to THE SHAGGY DOG (such as 1957's OLD YELLER or 1954's Academy Award-winning 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, among others) didn't count? (One comment posted here stated that 20,000 LEAGUES, like TREASURE ISLAND, was one of the films done for Disney in England because of studio funds tied up there. Not true; when not filming on location, 20,000 LEAGUES was shot on the sound stages at the Disney Studio in California...information supplied to me by the studio while I was researching & writing a magazine article on the making of the film.) I can see how some reviewers might make such a mistake, but for the claim to appear on the packaging that was approved by the Disney staff takes some serious explaining. (As does the differences in running time for the two versions of the film, with the B&W version being the full cut of the movie, while the colorized version is missing about 10 minutes of material.) Don't get me wrong,this is a great comedy and well worth having...it just deserved a bit better treatment for its fans.
Up to the point of this movie, the Disney Studio had had plenty of
experience in live-action film production, but it was chiefly in the
UK, where they used the considerable debt-credit that England had run
up during the war years to produce things as Treasue Island and 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea. Their initial foray into U.S. live-action
production was Davy Crockett on Disneyland, the Mickey Mouse Club's TV
serials, and then Zorro, followed by several mini-series on Walt Disney
Presents (Texas John Slaughter, Elfego Baca, Swamp Fox). The Shaggy Dog
was initially planned as a TV series to follow Zorro as something
independent from the weekly Disney hour. You can see vestiges of TV
production in almost every aspect of this film, from the
post-production foley work on entire scenes to the subdued performance
of Kirk (largely reprising his Joe Hardy role from the Hardy Boys
serials) and MacMurray's scenery chewing. Not that either of these
things were unusual in family movies of the time, but we tend to be
more forgiving of them on old TV. (The book the concept originated in
was written by Felix Salten, who created Bambi and Perri, a couple of
Disney animal characters who did pretty well for themselves.)
The Shaggy Dog was one of the first movies I saw as a child and I've always held a great affection for it, even while recognizing all of its flaws. The concept here is what I liked, and I believe, had the same cast (remember, this is the year before Fred MacMurray and Tim Considine were cast in My Three Sons) starred in a TV series based on the concept, we'd now be looking back fondly on another TV classic of the golden years rather than a rather middling Disney comedy. I still feel that it might work better as a Disney Channel series than a movie starring Tim Allen; part of the reason I liked the original is because the star was a kid only a couple of years older than me. What I don't need in a new Shaggy Dog film is even PG humor, and without it these days, there isn't much of a market for it in theaters (or even as a series on any of the major networks). It's a kids' super-hero concept that requires a kids' venue, and, sadly, that isn't the big screen. Perhaps, however, if the film does well, someone in the studio will realize that it would work better on a weekly basis...about fifty years late.
It's been a while since I saw this film; I last saw it when I was probably about 10-years-old. The film was about a boy who turns into a dog time and time again and the adventures that he had trying to avoid being turned into a dog. I cannot comment about the production of this film or anything as it has been too long ago, but I did like the story through my eyes (as a child). The film actually reminded me of one of my favourite childhood books: "Woof!" by Allan Ahlberg. Again, this film is about a boy who keeps changing into a dog, and it is about his adventures and about him trying to prevent turning into a dog. This is an imaginative children's film.
It is increasingly difficult to find movies that are suitable for children, both for their entertainment value and their lack of inappropriate content. The Shaggy Dog is a thoughtful story that the whole family can enjoy. The plot is complex enough to hold the interest of the oldest members of the family while not being too involved or frightening for the youngest children. You're also able to walk away from this movie without having to rationalize to your children why foul language was used, nor do you have to worry about the modern tendency of Disney movies to try to sexualize children.
Fred MacMurray and Jean Hagen starred in this 1959 film. Miss Hagen was
given very little to do here. Ironically, about 15 years after this
film, both MacMurray and Hagen were diagnosed with throat cancer. He
survived,dying from pneumonia years later. She succumbed 2 years later,
in 1977, at age 54.
This lighthearted film deals with MacMurray being afraid of dogs only to have his son fall victim to a Borgia curse and turn into a dog at times. Naturally, there is the new girl next door whose father leads a spy ring. Our son turned dog hears all about their plots and the rest of the film is devoted to MacMurray not being believed by police that his son has turned into a dog. There is the usual wily car chase but this time a dog is at the wheel.
A typical Disney film without the usual fanfare. That's probably because the film is in black and white.
I remember being taken to this movie when I was 8 or 9 years old. I was accompanied by my mother and my aunt. I remember being appalled at their reaction. They were nearly rolling in the aisles. I was unimpressed knowing that a child could not be turned into a dog and found the whole thing silly. I have not seen the movie since then. But I guess I might enjoy it these days for it's silliness. My mother and I did not see a movie again until I took her to see "2001" in 1968. She was impressed and correctly predicted, beforehand, there would be Howard Johnson's at the space station. Sorry for the unrelated memories that have nothing to do with this movie. But I cannot help but relate that 7 years later I took her to see "Blazing Saddles", fearful that she might be offended by some of the off color jokes. She laughed wholeheartedly at all the dirty jokes.
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