Based on the novel by Gladys Bronwyn Stern, The Ugly Dachshund was finally the Disney live action film that pushed my dislike for Dean Jones and his characters to the breaking point. He’s quite literally an irrational man-child who explodes at the slightest misfortune, yet he’s somehow won the affections of Suzanne Pleshette, who is beyond wonderful in this movie. Seriously, as a kid I’d grown up with her as Dick Newhart’s wife — well, Dr. Robert Hartley — and always thought of her as the sarcastic yet supportive wife of a beloved TV character. Perhaps I was not yet ready for the radiant charms and smoky eyes of 1966 Ms. Pleshette. Forgive me for acting like a Tex Avery wolf, as I am trying to be polite.
In this film, she plays Fran and is married to Mark (Jones). She spends most of her time raising her prize-winning dachshund Danke, who has just gone into labor with multiple puppies. The veterinarian suggests that Mark adopt a Great Dane puppy whose mother has pushed him away. Mark gets the great idea to act like said puppy is a dachshund, as if his wife is a total moron. Luckily, Danke has enough milk to save the dog’s life, but hijinks ensure as the gigantic dog grows up around small puppies, including a scene of Japanese racism that was strong enough to earn this movie a warning before you watch it on Disney+.
But hey — there’s a dog show where the big dog acts like a little one and I guess that’s somewhat humorous. And maybe I teared up a bit when the big dog saves a baby dog that is stuck in a garbage truck. Man, I’m not inhuman, you know?