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Disney Film History: The Shaggy Dog

shaggy dog 1

When I wrote about Tonka, I said it was the end of an era at the Disney studio. Westerns had dominated the live action films of the 1950s for Disney, but as we were about to head into a new decade, a new type of live action film would become the norm at Disney. I’ll call it “gimmick comedy”. The first of these gimmick comedies was The Shaggy Dog.

Walt Disney had become a house hold thanks to television. Thanks to the Disneyland tv show and the Mickey Mouse Club, his success in television was profitable. As he looked to expand into more television, he came across the story “Der Hund von Florenz” by Felix Salten. Salten had already been a name at the studio as they had used one of his other stories, Bambi. “Der Hund von Florenz” or “The Hound of Florence” is about a young boy who wishes to be a dog. Walt found that the adventures the boy could go on as he transformed into a dog would make for a good television series.

A pilot for the new Shaggy Dog series was put into production. Charles Barton, who had directed Spin and Marty episodes of Disneyland, was made the director and many of the children from Mickey Mouse Club, Spin and Marty, and the Hardy Boys were cast into roles. Tommy Kirk, who had also been in Old Yeller, was cast as the transforming boy, Wilby, and Kevin “Moochie” Corcoran of Mickey Mouse Club fame was cast as the little brother. Television regulars Fred McMurray and Jean Hagen filled out the rest of the cast as the boys’ parents.

shaggy dog 2

This was the first Disney film to be shot completely in black and white. Walt had prided himself on new technologies and breaking barriers in the film industry. Since Snow White, he had made his films in color, but the Shaggy Dog was met with a few faults. In color, the transformation of Wilby from a boy to a dog looked fake. Shooting in black and white hid some of the visual effects. The film, since it was never meant for theaters, was also shot simply instead of using something like Cinemascope or Technirama 70. The tv pilot, which was shot at the low budget of $1 million (Sleeping Beauty cost $6 million.) was then decided that it might fit the big screen.

The mini-series was pushed together into one larger film and was advertised as a new type of film from Disney. The movie was released in March of 1959 and unlike Sleeping Beauty which made it’s theatrical debut two months earlier, became a rousing success. Critics and audiences alike loved the films comedy and style as it resembled a television sitcom but with better production values. The film grossed $9 million in it’s initial run and ushered in the new era of gimmick comedies. Walt was happy with his new film and pushed the studio more toward this style which dominates the 1960s and downplayed animation, which we will see much less of in the coming decade.

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The Shaggy Dog, despite it’s somewhat cheesy premise, went on to become a classic for the Disney company. The film from 1959 still holds up and still holds credibility for younger audiences who aren’t familiar with the vast amount of Disney live action films. The Shaggy Dog would also inspire a sequel, a made for television remake, and a theatrical remake. It would also be an inspiration for other “talking dog” films in the future like Homeward Bound or even the Air Bud series of films. If Davy Crockett defined the 1950s at the Disney studio, you can bet that the Shaggy Dog would build towards defining the 1960s. There will be greater comedy films to talk about in the coming decade but The Shaggy Dog broke open the door for all of those films to be made.

What are your thoughts on The Shaggy Dog? Have you seen it? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going!

Josh Taylor
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Previous Film: Sleeping Beauty
Next Film: Darby O’Gill and the Little People


Puppies at Disneyland!

What’s better than an afternoon at Disneyland? An afternoon spent with a puppy at Disneyland! Keith had this in the works since before his move to California and this was the payoff, a great video with his new friend, Pancake, at the park!

Keith Lapinig
Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Monday Memes: This Game of Thrones Parody!

shame of cones

Top 5: Ridiculous But Adorable Disney Dog Costumes

I’m sure you’ve noticed this Halloween season that dog costumes are a big rage at the stores. Why you ask? Maybe it’s because we love to torture our animals! Maybe it’s because we need that Instagram photo and it’s worth the $19.99 price tag of the costume! Maybe our dogs just fit into costumes better than we do. Whatever the case may be, we found some awesome Disney Dog costumes that are sure to make you laugh and say “awwww!” out loud. So here they are!

#5: Captain Boston Terrier?

dog costume 1

#4: We Found Nemo!

dog costume 2

#3: A Pretty Dopey Weiner!

dog costume 3

#2: Ohana Means Family Right?

dog costume 4

#1: The Cutest Mouseketeer Ever!

dog costume 5

Josh Taylor
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Top 5: Dogs of Disney

My dog, Flip, with Oswald rabbit

My dog, Flip, with Oswald rabbit

Everyone loves dogs, right? I know at least a lot of internet people do. That’s why dog pictures, and videos, and gifs go viral every day on social networking sites! Well, I personally LOVE dogs. If I could fill a room with puppies and just lay in the middle of the floor and be bombarded with puppy kisses all day, I would. I’d make it my job, if possible. So, naturally I love Disney dogs, too, as I’m sure you all do; Pluto, Goofy, all 101 of the Dalmatians… shall I go on? So, this week’s top 5 is officially being hijacked by me (Angie) to tell you my favorite Dogs of Disney!


Slinky Dog

5. Slinky: Loyal (just like a real-life dog) to Woody, Slinky possesses both qualities that make him so dog-like plus his resourcefulness that comes from his stretching abilities often helps save the day! He’s a great, well developed character in the Toy Story movies, as are all of the Toy Story characters, in my opinion. He’s always the one most worried about Woody, leading the others to come to the rescue when needed. That’s  just what a lead character needs from a supporting character, just like a real-life human needs from their animal companion!



4. Dodger: He is just the slickest, hippest, sliest, street-smart dog out there. Seriously, if you don’t think Dodger is cool, then you clearly didn’t see Oliver and Company. He really came along and helped out Oliver when he needed it the most, and even though he has some flaws, he’s an all around good guy. He’s a terrier, too, and you just gotta love that terrier personality! Plus, man can he sing (I mean, he’s Billy Joel for goodness sake)!

“One minute I’m in Central Park
Then I’m down on Delancey Street
From the Bow’ry to St Marks
There’s a syncopated beat
Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo…”

YEAH! Now, that song is stuck in your head all day!


Percy and Meeko (I’d probably hate Meeko at first, too, if I were him)

3. Percy: He starts out as a prissy, self absorbed, cocky, pampered pooch in Pocahontas, but his character grows just as much (if not more) than the people do in this movie. Seriously, you can’t blame him for being ignorant in the beginning, he knows nothing else but what Ratcliff raises him to know. But, after meeting Meeko, Flit, and the rest of the non-English characters, he comes around by the end of the movie. He forms an unlikely relationship with someone so different than he (Meeko), showing differences shouldn’t matter, which serves to push the moral of the story in your face that much harder. Good boy, Percy!

Stitch the... uhh.. dog...

Stitch the… uhh.. dog…

2. Stitch: Ok, ok… he’s technically not a dog, but really, he may as well be. He sort-of acted like one for about 1/2 the movie anyway… He has all the great qualities that make dogs so lovable, loyal companionship and unconditional love. Plus, Josh and I always picture our dog, Flip, saying “Ohana,” just like he does every time we leave the house to go do something without her, “But Mama, Dada, Ohana means you have to take me with you!” That makes Stitch more of a dog to us, an alien-dog, but still a dog.

"I have just met you and I love you"

“I have just met you and I love you”

1. Doug: Doug is the epitome of the happy-go-lucky dog personality, and you just have to love him for it. He’s also loyal and loves human companionship. A good person could seriously do nothing wrong in his eyes. He’ll always act like a puppy, no matter how old he gets, and he’ll stick by your side through and through. You couldn’t possibly say “no” to those puppy dog eyes! Maybe it’s because I can see so much of my dog, Flip, in Doug (especially when he gets so easily distracted when any quick movement in the distance might mean a  SQUIRREL is about!), but he is definitely my number 1 Disney Dog.

Who makes your favorite Disney Dog list? Is it because they remind you of your own dog, or of a dog you wish you had? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Angie Carreiro

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