Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

THE SHAGGY DOG (1959)


THE SHAGGY DOG (1959). Director: Charles Barton.

Fred MacMurray's career was given a new lease on life when he signed to do this silly comedy for Disney Studios and it became a tremendous hit. Wilson Daniels (MacMurray) is a mailman who hates dogs. A magic spell turns his older son Wilby (Tommy Kirk) into a sheepdog -- or rather he takes over the body of a neighbor's sheepdog -- and he turns back at awkward moments. This charming and amusing comedy for children is a bit dragged out by a heavy-handed spy plot that develops late in the picture -- it also has a rather slow pace -- but it has enough laughs to keep you interested if you're game and MacMurray is splendid. There are also good performances from Kirk; Kevin Corcoran as his brother, Moochie; Tim Considine as his girl-crazy pal, Buzz; Jean Hagen as his mother; Cecil Kellaway as a professor; and especially that amazing dog who plays Chiffon. [Watching the animal go through its paces, you sometimes have to remind yourself that it hasn't a human brain but is just a dog.] Annette Funicello and Roberta Shore are the young ladies; Alexander Scourby is head of the spies. NOTE: To read about a fine biography of Fred MacMurray, click here.

Verdict: Watch Chiffon go for a drive! ***.

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