US movie (1959). Disney. Assoc pr Bill Walsh. Dir Charles Barton. Screenplay Lillie Hayward, Walsh. Based loosely on Der Hund von Florenz (1923) by Felix Salten. Starring Kevin Corcoran (Moochie Daniels), Tommy Kirk (Wilby Daniels), Fred MacMurray (Wilson Daniels), Alexander Scourby (Mikhail Andrassy), Roberta Shore (Franceska Andrassy). 104 mins. B/w.
Technology-crazy teenager Wilby, visiting a museum, is transformed by a magic Ring into an Old English Sheepdog. Wilby's father Wilson is allergic to dogs; in his dog form the lad habitually frequents the home of his friend Franceska, of whose own pet he is near enough a Double. While there he overhears Franceska's father plotting with spies, and he and brother Moochie resolve to snare them. In the resulting chase Franceska is thrown from a motorboat and saved by Wilby-as-dog. After the police have rounded up the spy-ring, it is Franceska's pet who is hailed as hero.
This leisurely movie – amusingly straplined, in line with the Horror Movies of the day, "I Was a Teenage Boy!" – can be seen as the ancestor of a long string of generic Disney fantasy comedies. It was directly sequelled by The Shaggy D.A. (1976), which has Dean Jones as an adult Wilby, now running for the office of District Attorney despite the unfortunate reappearance of the Magic ring; and by The Return of the Shaggy Dog (1987 tvm). [JG]