One of the things that Disney really excels at is making light family
friendly movies. They've been doing it for decades, and they have
a knack for making situation comedies that are funny and entertaining and
that are able to hold your interest through the whole movie. One
good example of this in the 1966 film The Ugly Dachshund, a light
yet enjoyable film.
Fran Garrison (Suzanne Pleshette) has one dream in life, and that is
to own a prize winning dog. So when her Dachshund delivers three
healthy full blooded pups, all females, she is ecstatic. When her
husband Mark (Dean Jones) goes to pick up the pups at the Vet's office
though, Dr. Pruitt (Charles Ruggles) sets him up. The doctor shows
him a Great Dane pup that has been cast out of his litter by his mother.
With out nursing, he'll surely die. The doctor suggests that Mark
take the puppy and let his dog nurse it, and after holding the cute ball
of fur, Mark agrees.
When Mark gets home though, Fran is so excited at the homecoming of
her new dogs that she doesn't give her husband time to explain about the
fourth puppy. She just assumes that it is another Dachshund, and
an ugly one at that. Mark names the Dane Brutus, and hopes for the
best. Of course, as the weeks go by, Fran comes to the realization
that the large brute of the litter isn't a little wiener dog at all, and
isn't pleased with this realization.
Fran has a hard time warming up to Brutus. He grows into a huge
dog while her precious Dachshunds stay a more manageable size. The
only problem is that Brutus has grown to think of himself as a lap dog.
After all, the siblings he was weaned with are all tiny, why can't he be
small also? Wanting to play with the other dogs though causes
some problems, and a lot of messes. Brutus gets blamed for everything,
of course, but it's not really his fault he's so big. Fran wants
to get rid of him, but Mark refuses to again and again. Mark can
handle Fran not liking Brutus, but when she implies that he's a lesser
dog then her pups, Mark takes it to heart and starts training Brutus for
the big dog show. He decides to enter and prove to his wife what
a great dog Brutus is. Of course winning won't be easy, especially
for a Great Dane who thinks he's a Dachshund.
This is a fun family movie. Even though it is fairly predictable,
there's never a doubt that the dinner party is going to end in disaster,
the light tone makes it fun to watch. Disney avoided having any tear-jerking
moments like in Old Yeller, so younger viewers who may be more sensitive
to such things should still enjoy it. The movie is cute, but adults
can enjoy it too.
There are a lot of funny scenes stitched together to make this sitcom
like movie. In addition to the above mention dinner party, which
is hilarious, the scene where all the dogs run amuck in Mark's art studio
is great, and you can imagine the results.
This was Dean Jones' second movie for Disney, (his first was That
Darn Cat!) and his comedy style is well matched with the tome of this
film. He just reacts to the mayhem that is going on all around him,
becoming frazzled but never quite losing his cool. The same type
of character he would end up playing in many Disney films. Suzanne
Pleshette also did a fine job, trying to be the sensible wife who sees
all the pragmatic reasons for giving her husband's dog away, in a way very
similar to the role that she would later play on The Bob Newhart Show.
One last thing that often gets overlooked in the non-musical live action
Disney movies is the music. This film had a score by four time Oscar
nominated musician George Bruns. Bruns was a long time Disney musician
and the composer of the scores to The Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians,
just to name two. He preforms up to his usual high standards with
this score also. The fully orchestrated music adds a lot of character
to the movie without being sappy or overdone. This film has some
fun background music.
Although the back of the DVD lists the soundtrack as being in mono,
this disc sports a 5.1 audio track in both English and French. The
rear channels are used mainly for music, and there is not a lot of directionality.
Even so, the audio is full and sounds better than I thought it would.
The voices are clear and easy to discern, and the music sound full.
There is no noticeable hiss or distortion. A very good sounding DVD.
The widescreen image was anamorphically enhanced, and looked very good.
The colors were full and there was excellent detail. This image was
certainly cleaned up since there were not any spots of scratches on the
print. There was a slight grain, but it was minor didn't distract
from the movie. This DVD looks as good as some of the two disc special
edition DVDs that Disney has recently released.
Disney included a few extras with this disc, though none of them were
The first is Faces of Mako, an 8½ minute featurette on
the Oscar nominated Japanese actor Mako, who made his first appearance
in The Ugly Dachshund. This interview is heavily edited, Mako
doesn't get to speak more than a couple of sentences in a row before a
cut, and he's often edited midsentence. I would have rather heard
the whole interview than just these cut up snippets.
Disney's Dog Stars is a disappointing fluff piece. I was
hoping for a featurette on the dogs in the film, but this turned out to
be a two-minute reel of dogs, both animated and real, who have been featured
in Disney shorts and movies. There is no narration, just some music
over the clips that have been strung together.
There is also the theatrical trailer, which is pretty amusing in its
While this film isn't a classic, it is a very fun, and funny, family
movie. The situations are predictable and the setups are a little
trite, but I found myself laughing through the whole movie, as did my children.
This is a great choice for a family movie night. Pop a large bowl
of popcorn, gather the kids, and have a good time with this enjoyable Disney
film. A high Recommendation.