The Shaggy Dog DVDs

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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The Shaggy Dog
(1959) | Approx. 104 min. | G | Reviewed by Stephanie Wien
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio 3 stars Video 2 stars
Goodies 1 stars Interface 1 stars
Value 2 stars

To capitalize on the recent release of its remake of The Shaggy Dog, starring Tim Allen, Disney has released the original movie on DVD in both the theatrical black and white, and the colorized version.

In the film, Wilby Daniels (Tommy Kirk) tries to deal with the usual teenage angst in the midst of discovering a magical ring that transforms him into his neighbor's sheep dog—the same neighbor who he happens to have a crush on. Wilby's father, Wilson (Fred MacMurray), hates dogs, so Wilby also has to try to hide his new form from his father. In the midst of all this, Wilby also stumbles upon a group of spies and he must foil their plot before it's too late.

The film takes advantage of the physical comedy skills of the cast, including Fred MacMurray, with a rather impressive performance by the dog. There are many other familiar faces among the cast, including Annette Funnicello, Tim Considine (who appears against type as the "bad guy"), Kevin Corcoran, and Jean Hagen. The limited special effects of the day may seem crude by modern standards, but don't distract from enjoyment of the movie.

The Goodies

There is an optional audio commentary by the four Shaggy Dog "kids"—Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, Roberta Shore and Tim Considine. Tommy and Kevin recorded their commentary together and have the most to say throughout the film, mainly anecdotes about how scenes were filmed, or what it was like to be a child actor in a Disney film in the '50s. Roberta (Bobby) and Tim have much less to say; Bobby's comments mainly focus on how amazed she was that the dog could do so many tricks. The commentary might be an added bonus for fans of these actors, but is not enough of a reason to purchase the disc.

The inclusion of the colorized version of the film might be considered a "goodie" by some, blasphemy by others. Strangely enough, the colorized version is 10 minutes shorter than the black-and-white version. There is some discussion of the colorization on the audio commentary track, including speculation that Disney regretted not filming a color version as this limited the appeal when color films became the rage.

In addition to the commentary and alternative film version, there are two short featurettes on the DVD. The first, "The Shaggy Dog Kids," includes interviews of the same four cast members who appear on the commentary. The four actors reminisce and share stories about the other cast members, crew, and what it was like to go to school on the lot. Some of the sequences seemed cobbled together with no real idea for a cohesively edited story. In addition, during some of the interview with Tim and Bobby the audio and video were slightly out of sync, giving me the impression of a poorly dubbed kung fu film.

The second featurette, "Fred MacMurray – With Fondness," includes some of MacMurray's costars through the years telling tales of his generosity and talent as an actor. Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson from The Happiest Millionaire and Dick Van Patten contribute stories in addition to Fred's Shaggy Dog costars.

Video, Audio, and Interface

The interface is extremely basic and easily navigable, with production stills in the background accompanied by music from the film.

As the film was made in 1959, the audio is mono, but is very clear and without any noticeable artifacts.

The black-and-white images are clear, and if you must have color, you can always select that option on this disc.

The Final Evaluation

This DVD will appeal to people who grew up on Disney films of the '50s and '60s, and the people who starred in them. Fans of Fred MacMurray may also want to add the film to their collection as a fine example of his comedic talents. The film is safe for families, although it's hard to gauge its appeal to kids these days; there is a fair amount of physical comedy and animal acting, which are always a plus, but there is a complete lack of fart jokes, which may be a minus. I would lean toward a rent versus buy for this particular title. In any event, it's too late for this disc to help you on the "Kurt Russell or Tommy Kirk?" section of MouseAdventure.

Special Features

  • Contains both original theatrical B/W feature plus colorized version
  • "The Shaggy Dog" Kids
  • Fred MacMurray – With Fondness
  • Audio commentary with Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, Tim Considine, and Roberta Shore

Technical specifications

  • Region 1 Encoded, NTSC
  • Dolby Digital Mono Sound
  • French language track and subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • Colorized version: Fullscreen (1.33:1)
  • B/W version: Widescreen (1.75:1) enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions
  • ASIN: B000CR7RH0
  • Running Time: 102 minutes
  • Closed-Captioned
  • Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $19.99
The Shaggy D.A.
(1976) | Approx. 90 min. | G | Reviewed by Stephanie Wien
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio 2 stars Video 2 stars
Goodies 1 stars Interface 1 stars
Value 1 stars

I'm not sure whose idea it was to make a sequel to The Shaggy Dog over 20 after the original, but in 1976 The Shaggy D.A. made its way into theaters. None of the original cast members appear in the sequel, but it does feature Wilby Daniels, the original character from The Shaggy Dog, played now as a grown man by Dean Jones.

Wilby is once again plagued with shape-shifting when the magical ring is stolen and falls into the hands of some shady characters. His transformations come at inconvenient times, especially since he has decided to run for district attorney to help clean up his crime-ridden town. Other notable cast members include Tim Conway as an ice cream man and owner of the shape-shifting dog, Jo Anne Worley (voice of the wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast) as his girlfriend, Suzanne Pleshette as Wilby's wife Betty, and Dick Van Patten as the corrupt D.A.'s assistant.

The Shaggy D.A. stays true to the original film in placing a good deal of emphasis on physical comedy; there's one extensive pie-fight sequence that is pretty impressive. The special effects and makeup used for Wilby's transformation have progressed since the original film, but still show their age.

The Goodies

As shocking as it may sound, there is an audio commentary track on this DVD. Tim Conway, Dick Van Patten and Jo Anne Worley all provide insight into the filming and life on a Disney movie set. My takeaways from the commentary: Dick seems very despondent at the current state of American cinema, while Jo Anne worries about the poor dogs in animal shelters. Although more entertaining than some commentaries I've heard, it's nothing to get too excited over.

In addition to the commentary, there are two short featurettes on the DVD. "Putting on the Dog" features an interview with longtime Hollywood makeup artist Richard Schiffer, who describes the process they went through to transform Dean Jones from man to dog. The piece features production stills and some in-process photos, with Schiffer providing voiceover. It's an interesting look at the technology of the day, but it's very brief, coming in at just over six and a half minutes.

The second featurette, "The Good, The Bad, and The Funny," features talking-head interviews of stars from the film along with production stills. The main interviewees are Tim Conway and Dick Van Patten, with Tim Conway inserting a good deal of comic schtick into his storytelling.

Video, Audio, and Interface

The DVD menus utilize the cartoon images from the film's opening credits sequence; they look cheap and it's doubtful that much effort went into their design.

The film is presented in mono, so don't expect any great Shaggy Surround Sound experience. The video transfer is well done, allowing the brilliant colors of Seventies' fashion to really stand out. You can almost feel the velour it's so vivid!

The Final Evaluation

Unless you have a strong childhood memory associated with this film, I wouldn't recommend it. There are two scenes that might make the DVD worth renting: the pie fight and the roller derby. Who doesn't love a good pie-in-the-face gag? Some smart DVD packaging designer had the brilliant idea to include an image of the roller derby scene on the back of the DVD, no doubt due to the recent resurgence in the popularity of the pseudo-sport. The cheesiness of the special effects—is that Jo Anne Worley or a stunt double in a bad wig?—combined with the absurdity of a person in a dog suit on roller skates makes for a few laughs.

Special Features

  • Putting on the Dog
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Funny
  • Audio commentary with Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten and Tim Conway

Technical specifications

  • Region 1 Encoded, NTSC
  • Dolby Digital Mono Sound
  • French language track and subtitles
  • Spanish language track
  • Widescreen (1.85:1) enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions
  • ASIN: B000CR7RJI
  • Running Time: 92 minutes
  • Closed-Captioned
  • Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $19.99