Monday, November 28, 2011

Dog of the Geek: The Shaggy Dog/DA!

shaggydogBreed: Were-Sheepdog

Original Appearances: The Shaggy Dog (1959), The Shaggy D.A. (1976), The Return of the Shaggy Dog (1987, made-for-tv).

Other Appearances: Remade in 1994 and 2006 (although the latter version bears about as much resemblance to the original film as Eddie Murphy's Doctor Dolittle resembles the original Rex Harrison version).

shaggydaBiography: In The Shaggy Dog, Wilby Daniels (played by Tommy Kirk) is constantly misunderstood by his father, Wilson (Fred MacMurray) because of Wilby's often dangerous inventions. Wilson, a retired mailman, hates dogs, and doesn't understand why his younger son, “Moochie,” wants one. When Wilby and his rival Buzz Miller take a new French girl to the local museum, Wilby gets separated and runs into Professor Plumcutt, who tells him about the legend of the Borgia family, who used shape-shifting against their enemies. On the way out, Wilby hits a table of rings, one of which lands in his pants cuff. When he later finds it, he reads the inscription on it and turns into Chiffon, the French girl's sheepdog. When Wilby (in dog form) goes back to the Professor, he's told he's invoked the Borgia curse upon himself, which can be broken through a heroic act of selflessness. When Wilby tries to go home, his father chases him out (since he doesn't know it's his son), and then has a series of misadventures while changing between human and dog forms, and eventually gets mixed up with a group of spies, who plot to kidnap the French girl, whose father is evil and wants to be rid of her. Eventually, Wilby gets the best of the spies, and saves the girl with the help of his father, who has to give up his dog-hating attitude. Wilby's released from the curse as a result.
In The Shaggy D.A., 16 years later, Wilby is a successful attorney who is married and has a son. When the return home from a vacation, they discover their house has been robbed, and Wilby blames the local DA. When his family is robbed again, Wilby vows to run for DA to make his town safe again. Meanwhile, the thugs who robbed them see the Borgia ring at the museum and decide to steal it. They can only sell it to an ice cream salesman who owns a large Old English Sheepdog, and plans to give it to his girlfriend. Later, Wilby hears that the ring has been stolen from the museum, and and then tells his wife about his prior shape-shifting experience. She doesn't believe him, even after he warns that if the inscription on the ring is read out loud, he'll turn into a sheepdog again. When the girlfriend is given the ring, she reads the inscription, and Wilby starts to change again, his wife warning him about the changes occurring, and he flees the scene. Later, trying to find the ring, it's learned the girlfriend may have lost it in a vat of cherry pie filling, and eventually, the ring winds up in the hands of the thugs again, who try to pass it to an undercover cop! The ring's eventually returned to the museum, but when the inscription is read again, Wilby transforms once more. The current DA figures out what's going on, and gets his hands on the ring, planning to keep Wilby transformed and put in the dog pound. Eventually, Wilby gets the evidence that the DA is connected to organized crime, and all's well that ends well.

Powers: Aside from changing to dog form, Wilby is also able to speak in his dog form.

Group Affiliation: None

Miscellaneous: The Shaggy Dog was somewhat based on The Hound of Florence by Felix Salten. When Scholastic published a novelization of the book, changes were made in the plot. The Shaggy Dog was one of the top movies of 1959, grossing more than Ben-Hur! The 1987 TV movie Return of the Shaggy Dog doesn't really fit properly between the previous two films, as intended, because the mythology about the Borgia ring is changed again.

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