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). 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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