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|Index||24 reviews in total|
The summary line is, of course, intended to parody David Kory's very strange
use of language in this film, but I can't shake myself of the idea that the
pinhead who first proposed this as a project spoke of it in like glowing
The comic strip was okay for what it was. But trying to make a movie out of it? Watching this is a stomach-turner to be sure. The whole syrupy lovableness bit is nauseating, and I've heard stories of kids who watched this when it first came out having squirmed with embarrassment at it, which is pretty painful when you consider how undemanding kids usually are when it comes to kid-friendly movies. Even worse are the stale, unfunny jokes.
A sequel was planned, but thankfully it went nowhere. David Kory couldn't act, but even worse is the fact that his director couldn't, evidently, do his own job either.
It was 1977. My brother was lying on the couch with the worst toothache of his life. All he could do was lie there hurting. Then my sister turned on the t.v. and Dondi was on. For half an hour, my brother lay there growing angrier and angrier at the sound of Dondi's voice, which has been known to cause heads to explode. Finally, my brother got so sick of the treacly parade of sap that is Dondi that he said one word in disgust: "Dumbi". The pain of the movie was worse than the pain of his tooth. My brother thought he suffered enough, but after Dondi came the movie Dunderklumpen. Let's just say he forgot all about his toothache.
I was about about 9 years old when the movie Dondi came to the Fernrock
North Philly, the neighborhood I grew up in. I had been an avid reader of
the comic strip
(published in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer) since it was first
introduced and I
suppose because of my age at the time, I related to the title character.
All I remember
today is that I loved it as a kid and cried like a baby at all the sappy
I am sure if I were to revisit this movie today as a jaded 50-something year old guy, I too might rain harsh words about this movie which has accumulated a whopping 3.3 stars by the reviewers. But I choose to rate it based on the way it made me feel when I was nine, and too naive to know old folks in the year 2004 would consider it a piece of crap. Today our kids grow up much too fast. A movie like Dondi might be just what the doctor ordered for your kids as opposed to say - a prescription for Ritalin.
Dondi gets a 7.5 from me.
As children, my brother and I watched this film on television and we
both enjoyed it. The story really tugged at our hearts because it was
funny and sad at the same time. We both talked about this film for days
after watching it.
I liked "Dondi" because I liked the handsome lead actor, David Janssen, who was then at the height of his popularity for starring in the television show "The Fugitive". The lead actress was Patti Page, who happened to look like my mother, so I liked watching her.
The film also included character actor, Robert Strauss. I had never liked him because he always played tough characters. However, in "Dondi" he played a tough guy with a soft heart and won me over. He played well against goofy Arnold Stang's character. Strauss and Stang were fun to watch together.
If I were to see this film again today, I'm sure my opinion of it would change. It's not one of the better films I saw as a child but it is one of the films I remember with affection.
WWII is ending and now the Americans have occupied Italy. Dondi is an
orphan, his home destroyed; little hope for the future. Dealy is a
hard-boiled GI with no interest in kids, but for some reason, Dondi takes a
liking to him and just won't go away, no matter what Dealy does. When
is rotated Stateside, Dondi stows away.
This film is very sentimental, with the little boy, Dondi, reminiscent of Hamchunk, Jim Hutton's tag-along, in The Green Berets (David Janssen is in that film, too), or Mitsuo, the little boy who follows after Jerry Lewis, in The Geisha Boy.
As a kid, this movie was one of my favorites. I would love to view it, now, with my own children. While it is not one of the "Great Ones", it is well worth a watch.
Undoubtedly one of the worst little films ever made. The well-known "shlock" movies have no pretensions, don't take themselves too seriously and at least give the viewer a few laughs. "Dondi" is a true BOMB with no redeeming features which, when originally released, probably went long way to undermine US/Korean relations. As Leonard Maltin suggests, "Watch this film and you will understand why David Janssen became a fugitive!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WE HAVE LONG kidded and made references to this movie in our other
reviews; so it stood to reason that eventually, some day, we'd have to
give it a first hand viewing and review. Well, we've only recently come
into possession of a DVD of it. So, without further eloquence, here's
Schultz and my thoughts about DONDI (Alfred Zugsmith
Productions/Photoplay Associates/Allied Artists, 1961*).
LOOKING AT THE source for this movie, that being the DONDI COMIC Strip by Gus Edson (writer) & Irwin Hasen (illustrator); one could see how this feature from the Chicago Tribune-N.Y. News Syndicate would do well being adapted from newsprint to the celluloid medium. After all, hadn't CBS done quite well doing the same with Hank Ketcham's Hall Syndicate feature, DENNIS THE MENACE (Darriell/Screen Gems/CBS, 1959-63)?
NOW THEN, THERE'S a good comparison with another 'Cute Kiddie' Comic Strip. Although there are some basic differences; being that whereas DENNIS is a 'bad boy' and played strictly for laughs and DONDI is a sort of serio-comic tear jerker & Soap Opera.
IN CHECKING OUT the categories that the Dondi movie project edged out the Dennis TV series in scoring higher marks we found the following comparison. David Kory looked much more like the Dondi Character than Jay North did to Dennis. That's the only category won by DONDI. DENNIS THE MENACE took home the Gold in all other categories.
ALSO WE MUST concede that the production team on this started out with a really fine cast for what could be described as a Disney-type Family Comedy. Starting off with the leads, David Jansen (Dealy) and the lovely, popular Singer,Patti Page(Liz-Woo,woo,woo,woo!)proved to be up to filling their roles. The group of supporting players assembled was second to none. Featuring such seasoned veterans as: Mickey Shaughnessy, Arnold Stang, Robert Strauss, Louie Quinn, Gale Gordon, Susan Kelly, Dick Patterson, Bonnie Scott, Nola Thorp, John Melfi, Joan Staley and Jack Carr. Also in the cast are William Wellman, Jr., Walter Winchell (as himself) and cameo appearances by Gus Edson & Irwin Hasen; as Police Captain & Police Artist, respectively.
INCIDENTALLY, WE DID observe that Mr. David Jansen's 'interpretation' of the character 'Dealy' seemed to be akin to both William Holden's Sgt. Frank Sefton from STALAG 17 and Phil Silvers' SGT. BILKO; all three being money hu$tler$..
A LARGE PART of the problem with the movie lies with young Master David Kory, whose rendering of the highly specialized Dondi-specific dialog lacked any authentic tone and cadence. This really wasn't David's fault as he had to deliver lines like "...me friend now, Dealy buddy?", or "...chow taste good now, Peewee buddy!" This goes on for the whole 99 minutes.
WE CAN TESTIFY that there was a lot of speculation on the part of the production company and the copyright owner about some further Dondi film projects. At the time of the movie's release, we recall an article that appeared locally in the Chicago Tribune's Sunday TV listings magazine supplement. In it, there was discussion of the newly released movie. They also did some speculation about a sequel and plans for a Dondi TV Series. They even went so far as to having the character in the funny pages age as David Kory did.
WELL AS WE all are aware, no further DONDI movies appeared. Much like the Tribune Company's character in Warren Beatty's DICK TRACY (1990), no film franchise materialized. There was a DONDI Movie connected Comic Book published by Dell Comics. It featured a photo cover with David Kory and the illustration was done by veteran Comics Artist, Joe Certa; who'd previously done CAPTAIN MARVEL, JR. for Fawcett and was currently drawing JOHN JONES, MANHUNTER FROM MARS in DC's Detective Comics.
THE SOUNDTRACK OF the movie did sport its own original score, as much as it was and an original song. Sappy as it was, both "Dondi" and "Meadow in the Sky" by Mort Gadson & Earl Schuman were rendered on screen by Miss Patti Page; who certainly gave it her all.
THE REST OF the sound track is filled with audio punctuation and emphasis provided by Tommy Morgan on Harmonica! It's much like that music that we are so familiar with on GREEN ACRES, PETTICOAT JUNCTION and DEPUTY DAWG Cartoons
NOTE: * Formerly Monogram Pictures, Allied Artists Studio was experienced in Comic Strip adaption; having done a couple of SNUFFY SMITH films (starring Bud Duncan) and a few MAGGIE & JIGGS (with Joe Yule-Mickey Rooney's Father). DONDI made these potboiler/programmers look mighty good!
Dondi is not the worst movie I have ever seen or even in my bottom 20.
That said, it is still a terrible movie. There may be those who like
it, but for me I saw it once as a child and kind of liked it but when I
re watched it I was literally appalled at what I just watched.
To me the film looks dated, the cinematography is dreary and the sets, costumes and scenery didn't do much for me either. Likewise with the soundtrack, I liked the use of the single harmonica but nothing stuck out as memorable. The script is absolutely awful, the jokes are unfunny and tiresome while the sentimentality really left a bad taste in my mouth.
The story is very badly paced and predictable and the direction is leaden. The acting I don't know where to begin criticising, David Janssen looks both humiliated and bored, while David Kory in the title role is incredibly irritating and can't act if his life depends on it.
So all in all, not the worst but still an awful movie. 1/10 Bethany Cox
I was 5 years old when I saw this movie. Even then I knew it was bad.
My sisters and I (both older) STILL say the line "are you in there,
lady buddy?" or is it 'lady-body'? Still unsure of that. It was a waste
of $.50 then, and would be a waste of $3.99 now to rent it!
Rent 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father' instead. Ronnie Howard - who I had a little crush on then - is adorable, Shirley Jones lovely and Dina Merrill positively icy-cold. Watch for ingénue Stella Stevens - wow.
Or rent buy the TV series (started in 1969) of the same name. Bill Bixby (another crush - hey, I know my men!) is handsome, yummy and acted like a really good dad. Brandon Cruz lived in my neighborhood - Westchester, CA.
Saw this picture ages ago. Leonard Maltin hit the nail on the head when he said "Watch this film and you'll know why Janssen became a fugitive"! The comic strip was never very good and this film is ten times worse. If it had even a shred of Sci-Fi in it MST3K could swoop down on it for some laughs but it doesn't. David Janssen did fine work in his career but this is certainly the worst he was ever in.
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