Matt’s Disney Live Action Adventure: The Shaggy Dog

The Shaggy Dog

Released on March 19, 1959

Budget: $1,250,000

Box Office: $12.3 Million

Starring: Fred MacMurray, Jean Hagen, Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, & Tommy Considine

Directed: Charles Barton

Plot: Wilson Daniels is a family man who lives in your typical suburban neighborhood.  The one thing that separates him from your normal family man is his hatred for all dogs.  When his son Wilby, happens upon a ring that transforms him into a dog, the Daniels life is turned upside down.  Especially when the new neighbors turn out to be anything but what they expected. 

Final Thoughts:  This is Walt Disney’s first Live Action Comedy, and amazingly enough its also his first live action movie with cars.  This is also the first of six movies that Fred MacMurray will make with Disney.  For his first comedy film Disney chose very wisely, because this movie is such a fun watch.  Tommy Kirk is back in the role that he was made for an all American boy, who just can’t seem to keep out of trouble.

                                I never truly realized how often Kirk would team with Kevin Corcoran in Disney movies.  They were brothers in Old Yeller and I know they are brothers again in Swiss Family Robinson, but I totally forgot that they were brothers again in this one.  The funny thing is that Corcoran always plays they same sort of character in every movie, this being a lovable kid with a fascination for all things in the animal world.  They truly make a great brother duo, which I am looking forward to seeing more of.  

                               This movie is also the start at least in the film world for Annette Funicello.  If you are not familiar with Annette, she is an original member of the Mickey Mouse Club.  She would also go on to have a successful career with her husband Freddie Avalon.  But the role she plays her is minor she does get the last laugh in the end.  

                                The best thing about this movie is that it flows greatly from one scene to the next, and it keeps your attention throughout.  For the time this movie came out the way they portrayed Wilby transforming into a dog and how they made the dog look real and act as a human at the same time was great.  Its amazing how much you either forget or miss when you are watching a movie again that you haven’t seen since you were a child.  Though now the story is pretty straight forward.  Wilby turns into a dog, finds out that his neighbors were not the museum curators they appear to be, leading into a funny chase scene to end the movie. When I was kid and saw this movie, I never realized that the cop that was constantly seeing and hearing Wilby as a dog was demoted because of Wilby.  Seems minor but when you know this information it makes the chase scene and every scene for that matter with the cop that much more funny.  

                                Though the movie on Disney + is in its original black & white format, this movie is believed to be the first movie that Disney colorized for presentation on television.  Something, which I never truly understood, I know that some people out there refuse to watch anything that is not color, but I like the fact that it is in black & white.  It makes the movie look more Leave it to Beaverish, which for the time I think is what they were going for.  

                                Overall this movie is a great watch from beginning to end and is definitely a movie I would let my kids watch.  A fact that I never realized until now is that when this movie came out it was the second highest grossing movie in 1959.  It only trailed the epic Ben-Hur.  Which is amazing for Disney to achieve especially when you consider that he hadn’t made a movie like this before and for the time I still think that he is more well known for his animated work than his live action.  Which over time will start to equal out. 

Final Score: 3 out of 5

Next Review: Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) 

Author: Matt Rotella