Episode 114: Won Ton Ton: The Dog that Saved Hollywood (1976)

The year was 1976 – bicentennial fever was sweeping the nation as it celebrated 200 years of freedom! Rocky, All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver, and Network ruled the box office. And then someone made this hairy dog of a flick… :=8P
I mean, everyone loves a comedy, right? And who doesn’t love a cute pooch moovie? If 1974’s Benji proved anything, its that if a cute doggy moovie that cost 500k were made right it cud gross 45 million world wide, get nominated for an Oscar, and spawn all kinds of sequels and spin-offs.

But that was not the fate of this bad shaggy dog story, really moore of an unfunny tribute to the Silent Film era of the 20’s, when dog star Rin Tin Tin ruled Hollywood with an iron paw. Well, buckle up boys and girls, because the kids from the Indie Film Cafe are going to check out Won Ton Ton: the Dog That Saved Hollywood in our latest episode – Moody, the MooCow, and long-suffering Just Jenn won’t know what hit ’em! IFC’s Joe Turek pops in for some free suffering as well!

Positively overstuffed with a bewildering array of cameos of old, moostly forgotten stars and celebrities of years gone by, including, but not limited to: Phil Silvers, Edgar Bergen, Milton Bearle, Joan Blondell, John Carradine, Cyd Charisse, Jackie Coogan, Yvonne De Carlo, Andy Devine, Alice Faye, Rhonda Flemming, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sterling Holloway, Tab Hunter, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lawford, Keye Luke, Victor Mature, Virginia Mayo, Ethel Merman, Ann Miller, Ricardo Montalban, Walter Pidgeon, The Ritz Brothers, Dean Stockwell, Rudy Vallee, Johnny Weissmuller and Henny Youngman. The main stars include Bruce Dern (Coming Home), Madeleine Kahn (Young Frankenstein), Art Carney (The Honeymooners), Teri Garr (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Ron Leibman (Norma Rae), all of whom are moost hopeful that the world forgets this film ever existed.

Folks, this is a odd flick that was not supposed to be made – every studio that saw the script turned it down, the script itself was re-written several times over, for different leading ladies, and only the intercession of producer David Picker (god only knows why!) who managed to sell it as a comedy, AND got Michael Winner (best known for directing several of the not-very-funny Death Wish moovies) to direct it, got it made at all. Mooch to our cowllective chagrin.

The plot, such as it is, from the Wikipedia: after escaping from a dog pound, a German Shepherd links up with a budding actress and a wannabe film scriptwriter and becomes a Hollywood star. That’s pretty much it, folks. Long, dull, unfunny, periodically mean-spirited (who wants to see a dog trying to commit suicide??), and loaded with some really bad, cringe-worthy mooments, This was the Little Film That Stank. Really bad!

Well, the scores are in, and while pretty bad we here at IFC have definitely seen worse. Moody (moore charmed than the rest of us) awarded the film a 6, while Just Jenn (8.0) and the MooCow (8.5) did not hold back their displeasure – and while Joe Turek was an extra on this episode, he would have scored it a 9.5! Overall, Won Ton Ton gets a 22.5 for an overall Stink Score, which makes for a Stinky Average of 7.5. On the Ladder of Stink, this mutt of a moovie is moore than few rungs up, landing right there with Crater Lake Monster.

Check out the trailer right HERE. Stream it on Vudu. Git yer hooves on the DVD or Blu Ray from good ol’ Uncle Amazon, or get it through the re-sale market at such places as Ebay, Thriftbooks.com, or Igwues. If you want a vintage poster of the film from 1976, cough up $59.99 at Movieposters.com, and its yours! You can get a half sheet from them too! New poster copies can be bought at Wish.com, and even Walmart. You can find B7W celeb pics form the moovie at Ebay, for folks like Virginia Mayo, Madeline Kahn, Bruce Dern, Ron Leibman, etc. Ebay also has a used official mooovie tee shirt as well! Love the soundtrack – well here is the Won Ton Ton Rag!

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