The Shaggy Dog appears in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite many strengths, some messiness marred the presentation.
Sharpness seemed very good. The vast majority of the film looked nicely crisp and detailed. Any softness that appeared was minor. The picture appeared to lack any moiré effects or jagged edges, and I also noticed only a smidgen of edge enhancement. Blacks looked deep and rich, and contrast was similarly solid as the film exhibited a fine silver tone. Shadows were appropriately dim but never too heavy, as low-light situations seemed clear and visible.
As I alluded earlier, print flaws caused the transfer’s main problems. Throughout the film, I noticed a fair number of spots, marks, specks and grit. The movie occasionally flickered a little as well. I didn’t think the defects overwhelmed the image, but they created distractions. Too bad the movie didn’t receive a more satisfactory clean up, as everything else about it seemed so good.
In regard to the monaural soundtrack of The Shaggy Dog, I thought it was perfectly respectable for a film from 1959. Dialogue seemed distinct and relatively natural, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects were a fairly minor component of this mix, but they came across as acceptably realistic and they lacked distortion. The music came across as a little flat and restricted, but the score was acceptably concise and well-defined. Don’t expect anything remarkable, but the mix seemed more than adequate.
When we check out the set’s extras, the big attraction comes from an audio commentary with actors Tom Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, Tim Considine and Roberta Shore. This features two pairs of running, screen-specific chats. Kirk and Corcoran sit together for theirs, while Considine and Shore hang out with each other for theirs. The DVD’s producers edit things together to make this one integrated package.
The disc melds the commentaries smoothly but doesn’t help make them interesting. The actors discuss memories of working at Disney, some specifics of the shoot, and thoughts about the filmmakers and other performers. Occasionally they toss out some decent insights such as interactions with Walt Disney and what it was like to be at the studio in the Fifties, but don’t expect a wealth of information. Unfortunately, the actors mainly just watch the movie, laugh, and talk about how much they loved everything. The track does improve somewhat as it progresses, especially when we find some fun anecdotes like Corcoran’s tale of getting drunk in France at the age of 12. Unfortunately, the piece never manages to become good and it usually stays dull and frustrating.
Two featurettes follow. The Shaggy Dog Kids runs 12 minutes, 29 seconds and includes notes from Kirk, Corcoran, Shore and Considine. They provide a mix of anecdotes about making the movie. They go over some experiences shooting the flick as well as other elements related to the flick. These remarks largely echo notes that already appear in the commentary, though some new pieces appear. I like the parts about the other filmmakers as well as makeup experiences during the shoot and education on the set. At least the featurette provides a more concise way to get this material, since it doesn’t force us to sit through all the tedious parts of the commentary.
Fred MacMurray – With Fondness fills seven minutes, 57 seconds. We hear from Corcoran, Considine, Kirk, composer Richard Sherman, and actors John Davidson, Lesley Ann Warren, and Dick Van Patten. They reminisce about the actor and let us know of his talents and personality. They give us a fluffy look at MacMurray. A few decent anecdotes appear, but we mostly get little more than happy talk. I do think Warren looks amazingly good given that she’s almost 60, but Davison sports one of the worst wigs I’ve seen in a while.
In the “waste of space” category, the DVD includes a colorized version of The Shaggy Dog. I scanned this edition briefly and thought it was a mess. The image was pan and scan and looked terrible. The transfer was very soft and fuzzy, and the colors were flat and faded. Don’t bother.
One note about the colorized version: although the DVD’s case claims it’s 10 minutes shorter than the original black and white edition, that’s not true. They both run the same 102 minutes.
The Shaggy Dog takes a clever plot idea and milks it for some laughs. However, it rarely manages to stand out as anything particularly enchanting or strong, as it seems too restrained and pedestrian to ever excel. The DVD provides reasonably good picture and sound along with mediocre extras. Fans will be happy to get this decent disc, but I don’t know how much it’ll appeal to new viewers.