August 1, 2017 at 12:27 pm
An MGM ALL BARKIE Short Subject.
The romance that starts at Dogville’s Bow-Wow-Inn between a HOT DOG and a lonely wife, ends in the courtroom with a case of murder.
This very unusual little film is literally the sort that they just don’t make anymore, with its rather solemn canines being dressed-up and jerked about with invisible wires. However, it is very funny, with its speakeasy sequence – full of dancing dogs, melodious musicians & gossipy patrons – a particular standout.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios’ feature films.
I believe it was the running of an entire herd of animals off the edge of a cliff to their deaths for the sake of filming a Western that led to the humane treatment of animals in films. Remember this film was made in 1930 – not last week. If you can do this, then this film is hilarious. It was the first of the "Dogville Comedies" of the early 1930's that spoofed popular movies with dogs as the actors. There was a "Dogway Melody", "So Quiet on the Canine Front", and "The Big Dog House" to name some of the others.
This short is basically a canine precode in which a female dog goes into a speak-easy and gets picked up by one of the male dog customers. She thinks her husband is away, but he shows up and interrupts the rendezvous. There is a fight, a shooting, and a dramatic courtroom finale, all spoofing precode film of the era in general.
The reaction of people to this film has me wondering – in 80 years what films of today will shunned because of changing standards of what is considered decent and humane?
Hot Dog (1930)
** (out of 4)
Another entry in MGM's "Dogville" shorts, which pretty much put dogs into the roles of humans. How did they get the dogs to "act"? By putting strings on them and jerking them around the set. This film takes place at a popular hang out where a female dog is with her lover. The husband then comes in and beats up the lover but the wife shoots and kills him. A court battle follows. I've seen around ten of these shorts and I must say each one just gets weirder and weirder. On one hand, as a comedy, the film is a complete failure because there's not a single laugh to be found here. I'm not sure how funny this series was back in the early 30s but today the films are rather painfully in how unfunny they are. With that said, they're still quite entertaining because of how surreal and downright strange they are. Seeing dogs being yanked around is something we'll never see again so these films have a morbid curiosity factor, which I'm guessing is one of the main reasons TCM keeps showing them.
If you're able to get past the animal abuse, this short isn't all that funny. Jules White, best known for working with the Three Stooges is one of the people behind this. These shorts tend to work better when they're spoofing actual movies (again if you can look past the animal abuse).
The ASPCA or PETA would not allow these to be made today. They are a look at a time when animals, especially dogs, could be mistreated.
"Hot Dog" is a good look at how animals were treated in the early 30's (and this probably had people laughing out loud) and shows how we've changed as far as the treatment of animals.
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