Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw

Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw is a 1988 American animated adventure film distributed by TriStar Pictures. The film is based on the Tonka toy line and Hanna-Barbera television series of the same name. It was directed by Pierre DeCelles, and stars the voices of Brennan Howard, B.J. Ward and Tony Longo. This was the only Carolco film completely animated to date.

Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPierre DeCelles
Produced by
Written by
Music by
Edited byJohn Blizek
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • March 18, 1988 (1988-03-18)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$586,938[1]

The Legend of Big Paw was the last theatrically released animated feature from the late 1980s to promote a major toy line, a common trend in the American cartoon industry during that time. The film had received negative reviews from critics and movie fans alike during its original release in 1988, and therefore, the film was a box office disaster.


Whopper is taking his niece and nephew to the museum. Along the way, he tells them the origin of Puppy Power, the ability of humankind to understand the Pound Puppies and Purries. In the Dark Ages (specifically 958 AD), a young boy named Arthur and his dog Digalot came across a stone which contained both the mythical sword Excalibur and the magical Bone of Scone. While Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, Arthur's dog Digalot pulled the Bone of Scone from the same stone, and soon afterward Arthur discovered that the dog could talk. Sir McNasty, who had witnessed the withdrawal of Excalibur and the Bone and Arthur's coronation as King of England, planned to conquer the world by retrieving the Bone. However, it was kept hidden by the giant guardian, Big Paw.

Later in 1958 the Bone of Scone is in a museum in an unnamed American city. Tammy and Jeff are the owners of the pound and hold a press conference and announce that the pound will be holding an adoption bazaar. A descendant of the original McNasty shows up and states he wishes to adopt the puppies. Tammy and Jeff inform him that he has to sign adoption papers. The pup finds out what McNasty is going to do with the four puppies. With his Mean Machine, McNasty will transform them and the rest of the Pound into vicious guard dogs, steal the Bone of Scone from the museum, and use its power and his army of dogs to conquer the world. Soon, Collette and Whopper escape from their cage inside McNasty's laboratory, and briefly reunite with the rest of the Puppies. However, Lumpy and Bones snatch them back. The Puppies give chase, but nearly all of them end up in a rat-infested cave, hanging on a rope, before the Purries pull them up to safety. The Puppies and Purries continue looking for their friends. When they get caught in a patch of mire, they are saved by the legendary Big Paw, who agrees to find the Bone with them. Later, McNasty's henchmen transform the Puppies into guard dogs, save for Cooler. Big Paw brings him and the Purries back to town to stop the evil trio, as the trio's truck heads to the Pound.

Big Paw and Cooler chase McNasty and his henchmen all over town and eventually back to the museum and their Mean Machine, which turns them into good men, but not before the Puppies are all turned back to normal. Big Paw and Nose Marie finally get back the Bone of Scone.

Whopper and his niece and nephew Puplings find themselves in the museum. The Bone of Scone has returned for another visit, and Whopper introduces Big Paw as a little surprise for the young ones, who did not believe before that he was real. As long as he is here to protect the Bone, Whopper says, Puppy Power will never be lost again.


Pound Puppies and Pound Purries

  • Brennan Howard as Cooler, a beagle who is the leader of the Pound Puppies, and teams up with the other Puppies and Purries to help solve the mystery of the Bone of Scone. His singing voice was done by Ashley Hall.
    • Howard also voices Digalot, an ancestor of Cooler who is owned by King Arthur. Digalot pulls out the Bone of Scone in the Dark Ages segment.
  • Ruth Buzzi as Nose Marie, a bloodhound who has a very keen sense of smell, and always "knows what the nose knows".
  • Hal Rayle as Howler, a Jack Russell Terrier who is an inventor who always utters out his namesake, and helps spread the word about the "puppynapping" with his "Grapevine". His howling vocals were done by Frank Welker.
    • Rayle also voices Reflex, a Schnoodle/Old English sheepdog mix who turns lovesick whenever a bell rings, kissing everyone he meets and shouting "I love you!" every time, and is later on used to turn the other Puppies back to normal.
  • B.J. Ward as Whopper, a mischievous Golden Retriever Pupling who gets into trouble with Marvin McNasty. As a grown-up, he shares the story of Puppy Power to his niece and nephew at the beginning and end of the film.
  • Nancy Cartwright as Bright Eyes, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is the cheerleader among the group, and stamps out papers during the Adoption Bazaar as the film ends.
  • Cathy Cavadini as Collette, an American Cocker Spaniel and a mother of six Puplings. Along with Whopper, she gets kidnapped by McNasty. Her Puplings come to the rescue later in the film.
  • Greg Berg as Beamer, a happy-go-lucky Scottish terrier.
  • Susan Silo as Florence, an Australian Cattle Dog nurse who announces, and attends to, the birth of Colette's Puplings.
  • Tony Longo as Big Paw, a Newfoundland/Old English sheepdog mix who is the ages-old guardian of the Bone of Scone. He is introduced to the dogs and cats as a lonely puppy who is homeless and has no friends.
    • Mark Vieha as the singing voice of Big Paw.
  • Frank Welker and Cathy Cavadini as Hairball and Charlamange, respectively. They are the Pound Purries featured in the film.


  • George Rose as Marvin McNasty, the film's villain, and a descendant of Sir McNasty. Like his ancestors, he has always wanted to conquer the world with the Bone. He is also allergic to cats.
    • Rose also voices Sir McNasty, an evil knight from the Dark Ages segment.
  • Wayne Scherzer and Frank Welker as Lumpy and Bones, respectively. They are McNasty's two clumsy henchmen.
  • Janice Kawaye and Joey Dedio as Tammy and Jeff, two teenagers who run the Puppies' Pound and the Adoption Bazaar.
  • James Swodec as King Arthur, a boy who pulls Excalibur out of the stone in the Dark Ages segment.

Musical numbers

The music for The Legend of Big Paw was directed by Steve Tyrell, with the original score composed by Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans, Bill Reichenbach Jr., Ashley Hall and Bob Mann. The film's six songs, which are influenced by popular songs and standards from the 1950s and after,[2]:209 were composed by Ashley Hall and Steve Tyrell, written by Stephanie Tyrell, and recorded at the Tyrell-Mann and Tempo Recording Studios in Los Angeles.

Track listing
Song Music Performer(s)
"At the Pound"Based on "At the Hop" by David White, Arthur Singer and John MedoraAshley Hall
"Now That You're Here"Ashley HallCathy Cavadini
"The King of Everything"Based on "Riot in Cell Block Number 9"; Ashley Hall and Steve TyrellGeorge Rose
"All in Your Mind"Based on "Who Do You Love?"; Ashley Hall and Steve TyrellAshley Hall
"I'm a Puppy Too"Based on "Duke of Earl" by Earl Edwards, Eugene Dixon and Bernice WilliamsMark Vieha
"Puppy Power's Back"Based on "Jailhouse Rock"; Ashley Hall and Steve TyrellCast


Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw was produced by Carolco Pictures and Atlantic/Kushner-Locke along with The Maltese Companies, financed by Tonka, the original owners of the Pound Puppies franchise, and distributed by TriStar Pictures.[3] The film's director, Pierre DeCelles, was also an art director and directing storyboard artist during production.

According to DeCelles, the film took 5½ months to complete, starting in the fall of 1987.[4] The first 2½ months were spent on preparing its layouts and storyboards, and the remaining time on the animation, backgrounds and shooting. The overseas work was done by Wang Film Productions and Cuckoo's Nest Studio, two Taiwanese companies known for their contributions to children's animated television series.

The film's animation and character design were different from what was featured in the Hanna-Barbera series, and did not contribute to the latter's continuity. A new set of characters were introduced for the film: Pound Puppies Collette, Beamer, and Reflex, and the Pound Purries Hairball and Charlamange, along with two teenagers, Tammy and Jeff, that replaced the 11-year-old Holly.


During its short run in theaters, The Legend of Big Paw played mainly in matinees[5] and only grossed US$586,938.[6] It is Carolco's only family film and was also distributor TriStar's only animated feature until 2001's The Trumpet of the Swan. The film was among the last in a line of 1980s animated productions for the big screen which featured established toy properties as their main characters. Previous examples included movies that were based on the Care Bears, My Little Pony and Transformers.[2]:xv–xx

Family Home Entertainment, a division of International Video Entertainment, the distributor of Carolco's films, released Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw on the VHS format on September 14, 1989. Its successor, Lionsgate, released the film on DVD in the United States on October 24, 2006.[7] Like the Hanna-Barbera TV show before it, the film also aired on the Disney Channel during the early to mid-1990s.[8] The 26th anniversary of this movie was finished on March 18, 2014. A Blu-ray release of this movie has yet to be released.


Critical response to The Legend of Big Paw was negative during its theatrical run. The Hollywood trade magazine, Variety, called it "uninvolving and endlessly derivative".[2]:209 The Sacramento Bee deemed it "miserably drawn" in comparison to what Disney was offering at the time,[9] and the San Francisco Chronicle gave it an "empty chair" rating.[10] A reviewer in the Detroit Free Press found it "dull and unoriginal", but praised the songs that were written for it.[11]

Martha Baker of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also denounced it and began her review thus:

If you're in your 40th year and not your fourth, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw requires the extra dosage of insulin reserved for such treks into celluloid and commercial [sweetness]. But even 4-year-olds have trouble swallowing this cartoon whole.[3]

Writing for The Animated Movie Guide by animation expert Jerry Beck, Stuart Fisher gave the film one star out of four, and saw the film's artistic quality as "a mixed bag". "[While] the backgrounds are somewhat imaginative and colorful, the character animation is flat and lifeless. Rapid cuts to new angles of the same shot seem to try to cover up limitations of the animation technique," he continued.[2]:209 Moreover, Fisher and The Philadelphia Inquirer took note of its purpose as a toy commercial,[12] a trend that was prevalent in the animation industry during the late 1980s.

See also


  1. Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw at Box Office Mojo
  2. Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.
  3. Baker, Martha (April 4, 1988). "Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. 8e.
  4. Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw – Index to Motion Picture Credits at AMPAS site. Retrieved January 5, 2007. Archived February 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. Sharkey, Betsy (March 28, 1988). "Pound Puppies: A Hair-Raising Promotional Tale". Adweek. A/S/M Communications, Inc.
  6. "Box office information for Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 22, 2006.
  7. VIDEO PREVIEW: Week's top video debuts offer plenty of chills and thrills (2006, October 24). Retrieved December 27, 2006, from Las Vegas Review-Journal site.
  8. They're back! Galoob Toys to relaunch $600 million brand of the 80s – Pound Puppies Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine (1995, July 11). Business Wire Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
  9. "Pound Puppies Draws on the Power of Love". The Sacramento Bee. March 31, 1988.
  10. Stack, Peter (March 28, 1988). "Pound Puppies Come Up Short – No Sale". San Francisco Chronicle. p. D4.
  11. "Lots of Bark, But No Bite". Detroit Free Press. April 3, 1988.
  12. "Pound Puppy Tale Plus Pound Soundtrack". The Philadelphia Inquirer. March 26, 1988.
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