Monday, May 28, 2007

Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood

The other day we revisted THE PHYNX, one of the worst films ever made but notable for its large and esoteric collection of old-time stars. Many of that same crowd came together once more just a few years later in 1976's WON TON TON, THE DOG WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD. Intended as much more of a major release than its predecessor, WON TON TON failed almost as badly.

The story is a clever one about a young woman trying to become a star in the early days who is upstaged by a Rin Tin Tin-like German Shepherd. Madeline Kahn stars, fresh off her triumphant appearances in Mel Brooks films. Longtime movie villain Bruce Dern was in his brief goodguy phase (that included Hitchcock's final film) and TV comedy legend Art Carney had been a surprise Best Actor Oscar winner the previous year. Unfortunately, they all ended up in a rambling plot under the ham-handed direction of future UK restaurant critic and TV personality Michael Winner, best known for violent action films like DEATH WISH!

The only things that makes this dog (literally) worth seeing are the ever so brief star cameos. The stars repeating from THE PHYNX are Edgar Bergen, Joan Blondell, Johnny Weissmueller, Georgie Jessel, Huntz Hall, Andy Devine, Fritz Feld and Rudy Vallee. Other notable appearances come from Jimmy Ritz, Rory Calhoun, Henny Youngman, Doodles Weaver, Aldo Ray (later in the porn western, SWEET SAVAGE), Ann Rutherford, Walter Pidgeon, the great Louis Nye, Dennis Morgan, Ricardo Montalban (KHHHAAANNN!!!!), Ann Miller, Mike Mazurki, Keye Luke (who dubbed the villain's voice in ENTER THE DRAGON), Victor Mature (also in HEAD), Virginia Mayo, Guy Madison, Peter Lawford, Sterling Holloway (the original voice of Winnie the Pooh!), Dorothy Lamour, the wonderful Stepin Fetchit, Alice Faye, Cyd Charisse, Dennis Day, Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester!), John Carradine, Broderick Crawford, Milton Berle and Richard name a few! Thow in the lovely Terri Garr and Phil Silvers in more substantial roles and film buffs might actually enjoy WON TON TON,THE DOG WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD in spite of itself!

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