Gone to the Dogs (1939 film)

Gone to the Dogs is a 1939 musical comedy vehicle starring George Wallace. It was the second of two films he made for director Ken G. Hall, the first being Let George Do It (1938).

Gone to the Dogs
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKen G. Hall
Produced byKen G. Hall
Written byGeorge Wallace
Frank Harvey
Frank Coffey
StarringGeorge Wallace
Lois Green
CinematographyGeorge Heath
Edited byWilliam Shepherd
Production
company
Distributed byBritish Empire Films (Aust)
Renown Pictures (UK)
Release date
18 August 1939
Running time
83 mins (Aust)
63 mins (UK)
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish
Budget₤20,000[1]

Synopsis

George is a disaster-prone zoo attendant who accidentally discovers a substance that accelerates motion, enabling his greyhound to run faster. This attracts the interest of a gang of criminals, who kidnap George's dog and plan to substitute their own in an important dog race. George and his friends defeat the crooks and their dog wins the race.

Cast

  • George Wallace as George
  • Lois Green as Jean McAllister
  • John Dobbie as Henry Applegate
  • John Fleeting as Jimmy Alderson
  • Ronald Whelan as Willard
  • Alec Kellaway as Mad Jack
  • Letty Craydon as Mrs McAllister
  • Kathleen Esler as Irene Inchape
  • Howard Craven as Ted Inchape
  • Harold Meade as Mr Inchape
  • Lou Vernon as Doctor Sundermann
  • George Lloyd as Quinn
  • Harry Abdy as Hogg
  • Reginald Collins as Benson
  • Jack Settle as head keeper
  • Stephen Doo as Sing Lo
  • Hughie as Aloysius, the dog

Production

George Wallace signed with Cinesound in February 1937. Stuart F. Doyle announced that Gone to the Dogs would be his first movie for the company[2] but he ended up making Let George Do It first.

As with all Cinesound comedies in the late 30s, uncredited work on the script was performed by Hall, Jim Bancks and Bill Maloney. Frank Coffey was Cinesound's in house story editor.[3] The story followed a formula developed in Wallace's Ticket in Tatts: "George is given a simple labourer's job... Quite innocently is fired... He then becomes involved in a simple wish-fulfilment device... the device is complicated by an equally simple set of stereotyped gangsters who have no motivation beyond innate greed for greater wealth, and in each situation they are foiled, usually accidentally, by George and his friends."[4]

Filming started in January 1939 and was completed by May.

Wallace's female co-star was Lois Green, an actor with extensive stage experience with J.C. Williamson Ltd, who left Australia after filming to go work in London.[5][6] The romantic male lead was an unknown amateur actor called John Fleeting, who later appeared for Hall in Come Up Smiling (1939).[7]

The cast also included John Dobbie, Wallace's long-time stooge on stage, and Howard Craven, a former publicity writer for MGM in Sydney who had gone into acting.[8] Hughie the dog, who played George's greyhound, was selected over 100 other applicants.[9] Extras were drawn from Cinesound's Talent School.[10]

A set built for the film was promoted at the time as being the largest ever built for an Australian movie at over 12,000 square feet.[11] Some location shooting took place at Taronga Zoo.[12]

While on location in Campbelltown, a scene was filmed where George Wallace was run over. A farmer saw this and called the police.[13]

A highlight of the film involved a "greyhound ballet". This involved training greyhounds for two weeks so they would be used to the lights and working with ballet dancers.[14] The opening sequence involves Wallace having an encounter with gorillas. Cinesound's special effects man J Kenyon recalled an incident with creating the costumes:

The costumes were made first of all by the furrier, but they fitted so perfectly the actors could hardly move in them, so I got to work. I had to unpick all the stitches and then redesign the costumes, allowing for more accommodation. Even then, none could cope with being enclosed in such a 'hot house,' and in the end we had to get a professional wrestler to play the part of both animals. He lost three stone while the scenes were being taken.[15]

The wrestler was Fred Atkins.[16] Grant Taylor auditioned for the part of the gorilla. He was unsuccessful but this led to him being cast in Dad Rudd, MP (1940).[17]

The theme song was composed by a Viennese composer living in Sydney, Henry Krips.[18]

Release

Hall later wrote that the two films he made with Wallace "were very substantial hits".[19] Reviews were generally positive.[20]

References

  1. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 185.
  2. "GEORGE WALLACE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 27 February 1937. p. 12. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  3. "ENTERTAINMENTS". The Horsham Times. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 5 April 1940. p. 1. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  4. Pike, Andrew Franklin. "The History of an Australian Film Production Company: Cinesound, 1932-70" (PDF). Australian National University. p. 93-94.
  5. 'LOIS GREEN IN FILM, THEN TO LONDON', Gippsland Times, Monday 16 January 1939, p6
  6. Louis Green Australian theatre credits
  7. ""GONE TO THE DOGS."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 27 February 1939. p. 9. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  8. 'CINESOUND'S NEW PLAYER. A Recruit from Amateur Stage', The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 2 March 1939 p 26
  9. "FILM FAME FOR "HUGHIE."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 January 1939. p. 16. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  10. "WHERE IT IS KINDER TO BE CANDID". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 22 May 1939. p. 8 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  11. 'Record Set For New George Wallace Film', The Courier-Mail, Thursday 9 March 1939, p6
  12. 'George Wallace Has "Gone to the Dogs"', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), Thursday 17 August 1939 Section: Second Section. p 8
  13. "The Farmer Meant Well". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 4 May 1939. p. 6 Section: Second Section. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  14. "Now Greyhound Ballet". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 10 August 1939. p. 10. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  15. "Electrically-Controlled Blowfly to Worry Comedian!". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 September 1940. p. 12 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  16. "Gorilla Loses Some Teeth". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 27 April 1939. p. 6 Section: Second Section. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  17. "Film News of the Week. TO BE SCREENED IN SYDNEY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 15 February 1940. p. 23. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  18. "VERSATILITY OF COMEDIAN". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 23 March 1939. p. 26. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  19. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1988 p147
  20. "FILM REVIEWS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 25 September 1939. p. 3. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
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