As much as we love cute puppies, people also love ugly dogs. Just look at the annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. Movies seem to love them even more.
For the past decade it has been a trend to throw a Chinese Crested in nearly every family dog movie made, from Cats & Dogs to Good Boy! to Hotel for Dogs ("Romeo," from the latter, pictured). Last year, Geoff Talbot started an international search for a three-legged dog to play Scrap in Lucky & Rich, which is in the works.
Motley dogs are not a new phenomenon in film though. Bull Terrier, "Bullseye," pictured, costars in 1968's Oliver! as Oliver Reed's extremely mangy sidekick. Makeup effects were used to give the dog scars and add to the overall appearance.
Another tattered Bull Terrier can be seen in Frankenweenie from 1984 (currently being remade as an animated film). English Bulldogs are another breed often chosen for a film role because of their look. Breeds like Chinese Cresteds, Bull Terriers, Bull Dogs, Neapolitan Mastiffs (as seen in the Harry Potter series), Pugs, and Dachshunds are instant character actors. These dogs have screen presence and personality just by walking across a set.
Happy 4th of July! I'm afraid there aren't a whole lot of patriotic dog movies out there, but you might want to check out Three Wishes (1995) or The Pooch and the Pauper (2000). Born on the Fourth of July (1989) also has a handful of dogs in it including a Catahoula Leopard Dog, but probably not worth rushing out to get just for the few seconds of dog footage.
The trailer for the book Wonder Dogs: 101 German Shepherd Dog Films went live today and you can see it below! Have a happy and safe 4th!
One of the most famous dog movies ever also featured one of the most famous rescue dogs ever. Spike, a huge Labrador Retriever/Mastiff mix, was adopted by Frank Weatherwax (trainer of Lassie) from the Van Nuys Animal Shelter in California for $3.00.
After his first film, Old Yeller (1957), Spike appeared on The Mickey Mouse Club with his costar Kevin Corcoran. He went on to star in two more features, A Dog of Flanders (1959) and The Silent Call (1961), and appear in other films and TV shows including The Westerner (1960).
His legacy lives on today as the poster dog of one of the best known dog novels of all time.
Old Yeller and A Dog of Flanders are both available on DVD. The Silent Call has never been released on either VHS or DVD.
In the 1993 film Man's Best Friend the starring Tibetan Mastiff has some unusual stunts to perform: "Max," a vicious cyberdog on a bloodthirsty rampage, climbs a tree, swallows a cat, shreds a bicycle tire, smashes through a door, jumps onto and over cars, and takes more than a few hits from his human enemies.
These complex scenes were broken down into cuts and trained dogs and tailor-made props were used to complete many of the effects. When Max climbs a tree, the dog was actually crawling across a horizontal log and the image was later manipulated. When he finds himself facing down a man with a shovel, and later a boy with baseball bat, both props were made of rubber.
In a later scene, Max races down the street and leaps onto the roof of a moving car. To achieve the look of the vehicle in motion, a car was being moved on a flatbed truck. The dog jumped from the a platform onto the padded roof of the car.
Clint Rowe and his team, of White Fang and Turner & Hooch fame, trained the Tibetan Mastiffs for Man's Best Friend.
After the theatrical release this month of Marmaduke, there's another dog movie on its way: You Lucky Dog (already released in Canada under the title Family Gathering) is a Hallmark Channel original movie airing on Saturday, June 26, 9/8c on the Hallmark Channel.
The story follows a New York fashion designer (Natasha Henstridge) returning home to the farm after her mother dies. She adopts a Border Collie from a shelter and brings the dog, Lucky, home to her brother (Harry Hamlin) to help with his growing sheep flock. Their father (Lawrence Dane) disapproves of the dog, who used to belong to an old rival. But, like any good movie dog, Lucky turns out to be the whole family's best friend.
After many years without releasing a dog film, Hallmark seems to have discovered new inspiration with last year's A Dog Named Christmas, and now You Lucky Dog (which is also the title of a Disney TV film from 1998). Don't miss it on June 26th!
Scent hounds have appeared in hundreds of films from all over the world since motion pictures began. They track criminals (Cool Hand Luke), provide ambiance to the American south (Sweet Home Alabama), and make incredibly lovable stars (Cats & Dogs). Here are examples of nine types of hound and some of the shinning moments they have had in cinema:
American Foxhound: Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (1998)—They track, they hunt, they talk.
Basset Hound: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)—This Basset steals the show.
Beagle: Shiloh (1996)—Based on one of the best loved dog stories ever written.
Black and Tan Coonhound: The Duke (1999)—A hound becomes royalty.
Bloodhound: Johnny and Clyde (1995)—A hound is a boy's best friend, even when he doesn't know it.
Bluetick Coonhound: The Education of Little Tree (1997)—A group of hounds provides companionship to a lonely boy.
Dachshund: The Ugly Dachshund (1966)—They want everyone to understand they are not the "ugly" ones referred to by the title.
English Foxhound: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)—How can you track down a mystery without a few hounds?
Redbone Coonhound: Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)—The most classic of all hound films.
Hope you all can watch the show! It was a lot of fun to be there in person!
A message from Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO of the HSUS, for those not on their mailing list:
If you missed out on attending The 24th Genesis Awards, now’s your chance to catch the show. Airing on Animal Planet this Saturday, April 24, at 12:00 noon ET/PT, and Sunday, April 25, at 1:00 p.m. ET/PT, the show brings together Antonio Banderas, Kristen Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Melanie Griffith, Teri Hatcher, Jon Lovitz, Tippi Hedren, and many more to honor the news and entertainment media for raising awareness of animal issues.
Sit back and enjoy the awards show that entertains and informs about animal issues.
The Humane Society of the United States contacted me last year to ask if I would create a video tribute to dogs in movies to be shown at the 24th annual Genesis Awards in Beverly Hills. The video featured a variety of clips from old and rare, to very well known and modern films. From Rescued by Rover and A Dog's Life with Charlie Chaplin, to Hotel for Dogs and A Dog Named Christmas (both of which won Genesis Awards this year). To learn more about this year's awards, and see who won, go here.
I attended the awards on March 20 at The Beverly Hilton and shot some behind the scenes video and photos. The book, Wonder Dogs, was featured in the Genesis celebrity gift bags, and all 850-odd guests took home a Wonder Dogs bookmark in their bags. Lindy Gravelle's song, I Love My Dog, was featured in the video, which received oohs and eager applause from the star-studded audience.
Among the celebrity guests and speakers in attendance were Teri Hatcher, Kristen Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Antonio Banderas, Ginnifer Goodwin, Tricia Helfer, Jon Lovitz, Moby, Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith, and Nubs, the dog rescued from Iraq by Major Brian Dennis. I got to meet Nubs, canine hero of the book Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle, and handler, Major Dennis, who told me Nubs' story has been optioned for a feature film and a script has been written by Justin Zackham. The project is currently titled Nubs and has yet to begin production.
The Genesis Awards will be shown on Animal Planet on April 24th and 25th and the HSUS also offers it for sale on their website once production on the DVD is complete.
Below is the Reel Dogs behind the scenes Genesis video.
It was reviewed on the Seattle Kennel Club website. ~ “Wonder Dogs” packs a bite and a can-do spirit while serving as an impassioned homage to one breed’s incredible run of powerful – and entertaining – performances. ~ You can see the full review Here.
Dogwise has also picked up the book and it's now available on their website. They will have Wonder Dogs for sale at their booth for the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show on March 13th and 14th. With a book signing on Sunday the 14th!
There are three huge-budget feature films about dogs coming to theaters this year—all involve talking dogs and two are sequels to previously big dog films.
The first is Marmaduke, coming out in June, based on the classic newspaper comic by Brad Anderson, and following the misadventures of a Great Dane and his family. Though it was originally under consideration to have the dog be fully CGI, such as the Scooby-Doo films, Marmaduke is played by a very real fawn Great Dane in the film. His voice is provided, with CGI aid, by Owen Wilson.
Next is Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, coming out in July. This sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs again features an Anatolian Shepherd, Chinese Crested, Bloodhound, and other returning breeds, but the main canine hero, formerly a Beagle, has been replaced by a German Shepherd Dog.
The release date has yet to be set for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, which is still filming. Some of the original canine cast returns, including Angel and Samson, as Disney puts together yet another enormously ambitious animal film.
Another terrier won top honors at the 134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week. Sadie, a Scottish Terrier, was just one in a long line of her group to take Best in Show at the most prestigious dog show in the USA. These dogs seem to thrive at everything they try, and it's no surprise that they are not only top show dogs, but top dogs in the entertainment industry as well.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of movies out there which these amazing dogs have made their own:
A Border Terrier visits Earth from outer-space in Good Boy! (2003) and has to get the Earth dogs in shape before their inspection by the Greater Dane. An Irish Terrier goes from Hollywood hotshot to hometown hero in Firehouse Dog (2007). The most recent incarnation of the Greyfrier's Bobby story, The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby (2006), highlights a West Highland White Terrier playing the role of a Skye Terrier.
The 99 puppies captured by Cruella de Vil would not have made it out alive without the the help of a heroic Airedale Terrier in 101 Dalmatians (1996). And who could forget scene-stealing "Winky," the Norwich Terrier from Best in Show (2000)?
Wire Fox Terriers made their mark on film history forever when Skippy, "Asta," played alongside William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series of the 1930s. Smooth Fox Terriers have known much less film fame than the wires, but can be seen in a few features like Disney's Charlie the Lonesome Cougar (1967), in-which a Smooth named "Chainsaw" terrorizes a mountain lion. I think the dog was typecast.
American Pit Bull Terriers, Pete the Pup and Luke, were two of Hollywood's first canine stars. Later, Bull Terriers flourished in movies from It's a Dog’s Life (1955), to The Incredible Journey (1963), to Oliver! (1968).
The most famous movie terrier ever, and one of the world's most famous movie dogs, is "Toto," played by a female Cairn Terrier named Terry. It wasn't the book that made Dorothy's "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," so well known. The Wizard of Oz (1939) remains one of the world's best known dog movies to this day, even though it was never meant to be a real dog movie.
Far and away the most prolific Hollywood Earth Dogs, are the Jack Russell and Parson Russell Terriers. Both in movies and TV, like Frasier and Wishbone, these dogs have stolen the hearts of audiences all over the world. Some noted performances can be seen in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Clean Slate (1994), Richie Rich (1994), Michael (1996), Son of the Mask (2005), Hotel for Dogs (2009), and of course, one of the best loved Russell films, My Dog Skip (2000). Though in the true story the film was based on, Skip was a Smooth Fox Terrier, he was played by the talented father and son team Moose and Enzo in the movie.
Want to see a Parson Russell Terrier pull a sled in a dog sled race? Check out Kevin of the North a.k.a. Chilly Dogs (2001).