Now and Then.

Who the...?

Harendra Kapur.
Kyra Mathews.
Tejas Menon.

Ello All,

Readers who have read my blog may know that I have a huge respect for Dogs and the things they do. They may even know, that some of the most memorable moments, we the writers have shared have been with dogs, and so I figure it's about freaking time we list out some of our favorite on screen canines. Bear in mind the list is the top CHARACTERS and not films. So without any further ado....

10. Old Yeller (1957)
As a movie this is one of those old classics that you completely love but can't watch more than once, unless you're you know, Kyra. But the golden lab they got to play the mongrel in the movie will certainly always be one of my favorite on screen characters. He was the ideal dog. He was loyal and loving and sacrificing and the kind of guy you'd grow up to write a book about. I don't know about the book, but the movie certainly delivered to an entire generation of parents, one of the greatest Catch 22s a kid could lob at you- 'Mommy, can we get a puppy?'

9. Top Cop Dogs:
The idea of a dog as a cop's partner has sort of been run down by now, but there are two utter classics for me, which feature two actors from my favorite generation of hollywood humans.
The first is K9 (1989). James Belushi and his trusty sidekick Jerry Lee were the ultimate bachelor crime fighters. Replete with the 'HE'S DESTROYED MY HOUSE' scenes and the ultimate sacrifice in the end, Jerry Lee was one bad ass dog. He was one of those few dogs with a real personality that totally deserved to be on the tonight show.
The second is Turner & Hooch (1989). Somehow this movie didn't do well, but this was the film that sparked my love for Tom Hanks. Hooch, is the slobbery cuddly lump of stud sniffer dog pal of Turner played by hanks who is trying to crack down on a a huge case in a little city. The film features one of my favorite canine-human bonding moments, with Hanks and Beasley the dog on a stakeout.
I should also mention the giant sheep dog from Christian Slater's excellent Cuffs.

8. Cats and Dogs (2001)
Now here was a movie with a great idea, executed horribly, but featuring some of the cutest animals on screen. Frankly, you don't need much more than that to get by. For me the stand out performance from a dog was Lou the beagle voiced by Tobey Maguire. Mr Tinkles, the evil white cat voiced by Sean Hayes deserves credit, but I'm going to stick to one species here.
Lou was like the Michael J Fox of the dog world. Cute, cocky and boyishly charming. Certainly, the beagle must be the most under rated breed of dog in movies.

7. See Spot Run (2001)
The English Mastiff (I may be wrong...) Spot is easily one of the most complex character metaphors I've seen yet. He's a dog who's not a dog. He's been in the FBI so long he's lost his doggy nature and become a run down hard ass. The chemistry between him and David Arquette is amazing, and I was quite amazed to see the film pull off the story line as well as they did.
That dog made me think.

6. Homeward bound (1993)
It's so very typical for studios to take anything cute and stretch it till it's no longer cute, so I'm not even going to mention the sequel to the film. The old wise Lab and the goof ball boxer with the cynical cat combination was so delightfully perfect, only Disney could've accomplished it. One of the most moving films in the genre, but more than that the role of the Lab as the wise old man was stunning. His chin was always up and his mane always perfect, just like his posture. I wish I was his nephew.
That and the boxer and the porcupine scene, make these two, for me, one of the best canine chemistries on screen.

5. 101 Dalmations (1961)
If Walt Disney ever wanted, he could have become one of the greatest advertisers of all time. The man knew people like nobody's business. He knew what people wanted to be. He understood personality and he understood love like very few other film makers. There is not a single puppy in 101 Dalmations anyone will forget in a hurry. Rolly will forever reduce even the most serious of people into a puddle of 'habubucheebu' when they think back to his fat little bum stuck in the hole. And Roger and Perdita will always be the ideal parents everyone will want their kids to see them as.

4. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Who here has never actually tried the spaghetti kiss or atleast wanted to? Scooby Doo may be the highest grossing animated dog, but face it, nobody drew dogs like Disney. Lady is undoubtedly one of the classiest dames there is and the Tramp is one of the coolest men there is. The Audrey Hepburn-Peter O'Toole of the animated world.
Oh and let's not forget the smoothest dog around- Billy Joel's role as Dodger in Oliver and co. (Thanks to Kyra for the correction)

3. Lassie (1954)
Here's the thing. Lassie movies may be seen as trite. They may be seen as contrived and cheesy, but Lassie was one of the most beautiful creatures to ever grace a television screen. I could try for hours to compare her to an actress but I'd never come close, because the truth is, nobody could match up to not just her stunning good looks, but her utterly pure, inimitably beautiful personality. If I make it to heaven, she's the first celebrity I'm looking up.

2. Beethoven (1992)
I think till about age 14, this was actually my favorite movie ever. Sure the studios sucked it dry with the most ridiculous remakes, but the first one is genius. The single shot walk through the park scene where he licks the little girl's ice cream and the perfectly juxtaposed 'Roll Over Beethoven' scenes are brilliant, but for me the greatest part of the movie, is the look on the St. Bernard's face when they walk into the mud covered room and he's sitting on the bed. You may not be able to teach a dog new tricks, but when the guy's a born actor you've hit the jackpot...

1. Marley and Me (2008)
I realise I'm alone in this view, but this movie deserved an Oscar. Not only is it one of the greatest depictions of married life, it also features the greatest final farewell scene I have ever seen. The part at the end when Owen Wilson runs his hand over all of Marley's soft parts made me ache, it was so perfect.
But the undoubted star of the film was the dog/ dogs they got to play Marley the Dog. I'm yet to read the book, but everything I've heard about Marley in it was perfect. In particular the scene where Marley's taken Jennifer Aniston's necklace in his mouth and he's just staring at them as they slowly approach him. I was convinced that was CGI. just brilliant. Even the look on his face when he realises her water's broken and the time he puts his head on her lap after the miscarriage. As far as performances go it was perfect. There was no contrived scenes of 'cute pooch' gimicks. It was all real, all believable and all incredibly moving. A feat impossible without the tremendous performance of Jonah the lab.

There you have it. My top ten dog stars. Mention anyone I've left out, and don't count on a list of top ten cats. Let's face it- cats are evil.

3 responses to "Puppy Power: The Top 10 Dog movies"

  1. Beautiful post.

    Dont mock my ability to watch classics more than once. Its a much envied trait.

    Also, you doorknob, Oliver was the CAT. Billy Joel was DODGER the dog.

    I agree with you about Lassie totally. Shes undoubtedly the most perfect creature ever.

    I also agree about Marley & Me getting an Oscar. I downloaded it "for my mom" some days ago, and have watched it 17 times since. And cried at all the moments you've mentioned.


  2. "Rolly will forever reduce even the most serious of people into a puddle of 'habubucheebu' when they think back to his fat little bum stuck in the hole.".

    his 'fat little bum'. you know, the surprising part about that is that i know exactly what you mean.

    in my opinion, 'catdog', the part cat part dog is awesome; dino, if he counts as a dog, is awesome; butch/spike/killer, and the little pup from the tom and jerry shows are awesome.


  3. you forgot Bolt!..that cute dog with super powers, kicks butt!....loved him.


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The All of us.