The Weekly Watch: It's Dog Week!
Starring The Ugly Dachshund and—for subscribers—many more canine movie treats.
Welcome to Dog Week at The Bigger Picture. Though technically a cat person, I am qualified to bring you canine film recommendations because I costarred in the 2000 Frankie Muniz vehicle My Dog Skip. And by costarred, I mean I was an extra. If you really pay attention, you can see 8th-grade me pointing, mouth agape, during the scene where the titular Jack Russell appears to be driving a car. (Although I knew that there was a human pushing the pedals, on-screen I appear very confused. Acting!)
Out of the many pup movies in the canon, 1966’s The Ugly Dachshund (Disney+) has claimed The Bigger Picture’s coveted Weekly Watch for a litter of reasons. There’s not just one cute doggie, but five of them: This is the story of a champion dachshund, Danka, who has three puppies of her own and also, thanks to some shenanigans on the part of her male owner and the veterinarian (Charlie Ruggles, who you may recognize as good-smelling Grandfather McKendrick from The Parent Trap), takes in a Great Dane named Brutus who comes to believe he too is of wiener heritage. While the petite dachshund girls instigate all the trouble—and there is a lot: with knitting supplies, with party supplies, with art supplies—it’s sweet, galumphing Brutus who always takes the blame. The mischief is slightly repetitive, though that’s the gag. Your kids may find it off-the-charts adorable; be prepared for younger ones to want to watch a few key scenes on repeat.
The animal stars aren’t the only ones who are fun to look at: Dean Jones, sporting shawl-collar cardigans Billy Reid himself would drool over, and Suzanne Pleshette, rocking her signature sultry sparkle, play Mark and Fran Garrison, the dogs’ hot, young owner-couple. Their mid-century California spread is even hotter, with a party-ready pool and an art studio for Mark that will make even left-brain viewers weak in the knees. The Garrisons’ bedroom features twin beds, a ’60s detail that continues to confound our kids no matter how many times we talk it through over episodes of Bewitched.
Like Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson, Lady and the Tramp, and a number of older titles in its streaming library, Disney+ has added a warning label to The Ugly Dachshund, specifically in this case for the racist depiction of two Japanese characters, Mr. Toyama and his nephew Kenji, who show up midway through the movie as caterers of the “Oriental bacchanal” the Garrisons throw in their technicolor backyard. I appreciate that Disney is doing this. The label gives you a chance to opt out entirely of material that may be hurtful or offensive; if you do choose to continue watching (the party sequence takes place from about 00:55 to 01:10), the warning cues up a valuable opportunity to talk to your kids about why the depictions are wrong. If you prefer your movie nights without teachable moments, I get it! Beethoven (Peacock) may be a better option.
Back at Dog Week, we’ve got many more picks coming up in our subscriber extras, including The Bigger Picture’s exclusive list of quality films in which the dog does not go to heaven—that is to say, in which he does not die, which happens in surprisingly many films, and always really brings the mood down. (Frustratingly, most dog protagonists are historically male; where my bitches at?!)
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And for those of you wondering whether The Bigger Picture will do a Cat Week (and I know there are legions): I see you, I hear you, and I’ll tell you this: Every dog has its day.