For kids of the 1970s, it wasn’t just Walt Disney animation that captured their interest – it was feature films with funny premises like The Shaggy D.A.
Based on the 1959 film The Shaggy Dog and the out of print novel The Hound of Florence by Felix Salten, The Shaggy D.A. presented a problem when a man becomes imprisoned within a sheepdog due to a magic spell.
Starring Dean Jones as Wilby Daniels and Suzanne Pleshette as his wife Betty Daniels, The Shaggy D.A. focuses on Wilby’s run to become the new district attorney after he’s robbed twice.
Two thieves who have been robbing the Daniels and other families decide to steal an ancient ring from the local museum. When someone reads aloud the inscription of the ring on television, Wilby starts transforming into a sheepdog, revealing his secret to his wife and son Brian.
As the sheepdog, Wilby is chased by the dog catcher and tossed in the pound, meanwhile trying to solve the thefts and figure out a way to return to being a man and get elected as district attorney.
The humour and odd situations were a funny side effect of the transposing of a man and dog, as the man can now understand all the dogs, and still understands the humans around him – who of course, just see a big white sheepdog.
Released in December 1976 for the holiday season, this film was the last of 19 films directed by Robert Stevenson, set in the fictional Medfield, used for many Disney films.
A box office hit, the movie was a success for Disney, using one of their fave go-to actors Dean Jones, as well as well-known actors like Tim Conway, Vic Tayback, Dick Van Patten and Jo Anne Worley.
For this kid, this silly film was a favourite – because the premise was ridiculous and the laughs were not subtle and for kids under 12, this was awesome to see dogs banding together to get back at the bad guy.