Here is the dog that launched a thousand stars. He saved a Hollywood production company from bankruptcy. He saved the girl! He had books, photo ops, autograph sessions, and his own personal masseuse.

He became the biggest star in 1924. He carried a budding Hollywood starlet and would-be Hollywood producer to the top of Fame, Fortune, and Glory.

Is he Strongheart? Rin Tin Tin? Who was this fabulous shepherd?

Won Ton Ton.

Won Ton Ton:  The Dog that Saved Hollywood.  A 1976 spoof about Rin Tin Tin starring Madeline Kahn, Bruce Dern, Art Carney, and over 70 other famous Hollywood stars in cameo roles.

Estie Del Ruth (Madeline Kahn) is an aspiring actress determined to make it big in Hollywood.   Her big break comes when she bonds with Won Ton Ton and stars in a host of movies with him.  Won, being a shelter dog, didn’t listen well to Hollywood directors unless he was on set with Estie.

Grayson Potchuck (Bruce Dern) is a tour bus driver who constantly pitches movie ideas to studio head J.J. Fromberg (Art Carney).   All Grayson’s ideas for movies gets him tossed out the studio entrance.  Too bad, because he had some great ideas.  One was a little girl who gets swept up by a tornado and lands in a magical kingdom.  Another was a shark that terrorized a small New England coastal town.  It wasn’t until he pitched a story about a hero dog saving the girl that he got some interest from the studio.  So Grayson had to rush down to the local pound for a dog.  He returned with a German Shepherd, named him Won Ton Ton, and movie history was made.  The popularity of the Won Ton Ton saved the studio from ruin and created the Golden Age of Movies.

The flick capitalizes on the old corny slapstick jokes of 1920’s Hollywood, and many great Hollywood stars from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s make cameo appearances.   Stars such as Joan Blondell, Dorothy Lamour, Jackie Coogan, Johnny Weismuller, John Carradine, Keye Luck, and a bunch more.  For the complete list of appearances, you can check out the Wikipedia entry.

For many of these stars, it was their last time in front of the cameras – ever.

It won no awards.  It didn’t do well in the theaters.  It was criticized as being made only to highlight a cavalcade of Hollywood’s aging stars.   And movie fan sites are filled with people who hate it.  But also filled with people who loved it.

It’s great fun about the good old days in Hollywood.  If you can get a hold of a copy.  Re-released several years ago, copies are hard to find.  You can try Amazon.  Netflix is not offering it yet.

If you can get a hold of a copy, see it.  No great script.  No oscar winning performances.  Kinda goofy.   But it’s a good time.

Simply, it’s boy meets girl.  Girl meets dog.  Dog makes boy and girl stars.  Boy and girl lose dog.  Boy and girl find dog and walk together into the sunset.

Check out the original trailer.

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