Shaggy Dog, The (1959)

Shaggy Dog, The (1959)

“Don’t be ridiculous — my son isn’t any werewolf! He’s just a big, baggy, stupid looking, shaggy dog!”

The teenage son (Tommy Kirk) of a dog-hating postman (Fred MacMurray) accidentally recites an ancient charm which turns him intermittently into a shaggy dog; while in dog form, he learns about the presence of spies across the street, and enlists the help of his younger brother (Kevin Corcoran) to foil their plans.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cecil Kellaway Films
  • Fantasy
  • Jean Hagen Films
  • Small Town America
  • Spies
  • Talking Animals

Recently remade with Tim Allen, this immensely popular Disney live-action film broke box office records the year it was released (beating even Ben-Hur), and generated a sequel twenty years later (1979’s The Shaggy D.A.). While Fred MacMurray is surprisingly annoying in the central adult role (his performance is both one-note and overly broad):

both Kirk and Corcoran are decent as his two sons, with Corcoran in particular showing evidence of kid star talent. The film’s two central subplots — Kirk’s rivalry with his best friend (Tim Considine) for the affections of two neighborhood girls (Annette Funicello and Roberta Shore), and the discovery of a neighborhood Cold War spy ring — are silly but ultimately innocuous; with that said, the movie as a whole is far from must-see viewing for all film fanatics, and will be a tedious bore for many.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Kevin Corcoran as Wilby’s dog-loving younger brother, Moochie
  • Several amusing Wilby-as-Dog sequences

Must See?
No, but film fanatics may be curious to check it out simply for its historical popularity.


2 thoughts on “Shaggy Dog, The (1959)

  1. In total agreement here except *.

    I saw this recently for the first time since I was a kid. I’ve no idea what I thought when I saw it when I was probably six or so (I think I was just happy watching anything that moved cinematically at that point). But the assessment puts it right: this is a tedious bore.

    On quite a few levels.

    And increasingly so.

    It does, in fact, just get worse as it goes.

    *I doubt ffs will find any kind of interest in it, historical popularity notwithstanding.

  2. I just watched this for the first time since the 1970s (I was born in 1967) and as a kid I loved it. As a 55 year old adult I still found it thoroughly charming and lots of fun. I wish family / Disney films had as much charm these days.

    An argument could be made that it is must see in so far as it’s huge success in ’59 led to Disney essentially using it as the template for much of their live action, non-musical fare over the following twenty years or so. There have also been sequels and remakes, a whole franchise based on this film.

    I suppose in the grand scheme of things it’s minor fare, so no, it ain’t must see … but ya gotta love the subplot about the numb-nuts cops who keep seeing the shaggy dog talking and driving cars.

    You guys need to get back in touch with your inner child.

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