All Dogs Go to Heaven
|All Dogs Go to Heaven|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Don Bluth|
|Produced by||Don Bluth |
|Screenplay by||David N. Weiss|
|Story by||Don Bluth |
David J. Steinberg
David N. Weiss
|Starring||Burt Reynolds |
Charles Nelson Reilly
|Music by||Score: |
|Studio||Sullivan Bluth Studios |
|Distributed by||United Artists (US) |
Rank Organisation (UK)
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||85 minutes|
|Box office||$27,100,027 (USA)|
All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 Irish-American animated musical comedy film directed and produced by Don Bluth and released by United Artists & Goldcrest Films. The film tells the story of two dogs, Charlie B. Barkin (voiced by Burt Reynolds) and his loyal best friend Itchy Itchiford (voiced by Dom DeLuise). Charlie is murdered, but he forsakes his place in Heaven to return to earth where he and Itchy team up with a young orphan girl, Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi in her final role) who teaches them an important lesson about honesty, loyalty, and love.
The film was produced at Sullivan Bluth Studios in Dublin, Ireland, funded by UK-based investors Goldcrest Films. On its cinema release it competed directly with an animated feature released on November 17, 1989, the same time as Walt Disney Pictures animated motion picture The Little Mermaid. While it did not repeat the box-office success of Sullivan Bluth's previous feature films (The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail and The Land Before Time) it was very successful on home video, becoming one of the biggest-selling VHS releases ever. The film inspired a theatrical sequel, a television series and a holiday direct-to-video film. The film was released on VHS and DVD November 17, 1998, and as a MGM Kids edition on March 6, 2001, and for the first time rendered in high definition on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011, with no special features, except the original theatrical trailer.
In 1939 New Orleans, Charlie B. Barkin, a roguish German Shepherd with a con man's charm, is working with his gangster business partner, Carface Carruthers, at a casino fashioned out of a derelict oil tanker. Not sharing the earnings, Carface frames Charlie and has him sent to a pound, but Charlie escapes with the help of his best friend Itchy Itchiford. Later, Carface and his sidekick, Killer, kill Charlie by hitting him with an empty automobile. Charlie, however, goes to heaven by default, despite never actually performing any good deeds, and meets a Whippet Angel, who tells him the reason of this is because of the movie's namesake rule of the afterlife: All dogs go to Heaven. Charlie cheats death by stealing his "life watch", a glowing pocket watch, and winding it back up, allowing him to return to Earth. As Charlie leaves Heaven, the Whippet Angel warns him that he can never return to heaven. Therefore, it is assumed that if he dies again he will automatically go to hell. However, Charlie quickly learns that his life is now tied to the "life watch," which means that as long as the watch is protected and operating, Charlie will live.
Back on Earth, Charlie reunites with Itchy and plots his revenge against Carface by setting up a rival business. Itchy reveals to Charlie that Carface has a monster, which prompts Charlie into investigating the monster. However, it is revealed that Carface is imprisoning a little orphan girl named Anne-Marie for her ability to communicate with animals, giving him an advantage when betting on races, which are apparently fixed so that those who speak the racing animals' language can know in advance of the outcome. Charlie "rescues" Anne-Marie, telling her that they will help the poor and he will find her a family. Charlie takes Anne-Marie to the local Horse Track, where a pensive Anne-Marie doesn't want to talk. When Charlie says the money is for the poor, like in Robin Hood, Anne-Marie agrees to help. After a time, Anne-Marie becomes upset due to Charlie not looking for parents. Charlie begins to make a large profit using Anne-Marie, who eventually attempts to leave when she realizes Charlie was using her in the same way that Carface was, but Charlie convinces Anne-Marie to stay by his side by promising to give to the poor, resulting in Charlie purchasing pizza and cake for orphan puppies who live in an abandoned church. Anne-Marie, however, finds the wallet which was stolen by Charlie from the horse race. Anne-Marie angrily corners Charlie accusing him. Anne-Marie then sleeps in the attic. That night, Charlie has a nightmare in which he is banished to hell and is attacked by a hellhound and his minions.
The next day, Anne-Marie goes to return the wallet. Charlie finds her eating breakfast with the Wallet Family, the family whose wallet was stolen, where he discovers that the couple is planning to take Anne-Marie in. Charlie tricks Anne-Marie into leaving by pretending to be sick. After escaping an ambush with Carface and Killer, Charlie and Anne-Marie fall through the floor of an old warehouse into an underground sewer where they narrowly avoid being eaten by King Gator, a giant alligator who befriends them and learns how well Charlie can sing. Anne-Marie gets sick with pneumonia during the adventure. Meanwhile, Itchy is ambushed by Carface and his thugs, who destroy Charlie's casino. Charlie and Anne-Marie return to the church, where a beaten Itchy accuses Charlie of caring more for Anne-Marie than him or their business. Frustrated, Charlie says that he never actually cared about Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie overhears them, however, runs away tearfully, and recaptured by Carface.
Charlie goes to Carface's casino/boat to rescue Anne-Marie, where Carface and his thugs capture him. Itchy is given instructions to warn the Wallet Family about Anne-Marie's capture, which results in the neighborhood dogs collaborating to get the message to the family. Charlie is ambushed by Carface's thugs, who tie him to a boat anchor. However, when one of the thugs bites Charlie's foot, making him howl in pain, King Gator comes to their rescue, frees Charlie and chases away Carface. Anne-Marie falls into the water and is too sick to swim. Charlie dives in to save her. His watch falls in too. Charlie is unable to save both at the same time. He places Anne-Marie on a board and pushes her to safety. Charlie then attempts to swim to his watch, but the water clogs the watch's gears, resulting in him drowning. The Wallet Family adopts Anne-Marie and Charlie is allowed back into heaven, instead of hell, as a reward for sacrificing himself to save his friend. He gives his heartfelt goodbyes to Anne-Marie and Itchy, finally proving his love for her. Leaving Itchy in her care, Charlie finally departs for the afterlife, where he finds surprisingly that Carface has also ended up in heaven after being killed by King Gator and attempts to use a clock to return home like Charlie did. The Whippet Angel chases him down warning him that he will never return, but Charlie emerges from a cloud and assures the audience that Carface will be back.
- Main characters
- Burt Reynolds as Charlie B. Barkin, a roguish German shepherd and the main protagonist. The character was designed specifically with Reynolds in mind for the role, and the animators mimicked some of his mannerisms.
- Dom DeLuise as Itchy Itchiford, a paranoid, nervous, and cowardly Dachshund.
- Judith Barsi as Anne-Marie, a young orphan girl with the ability to talk to and understand animals.
- This was Barsi's final role as she and her mother were killed by Judith's father in a double murder-suicide a year and a half before the film's release. The film's ending song "Love Survives" was dedicated to her memory. Lana Beeson provides Anne-Marie's singing voice.
- Vic Tayback as Carface Carruthers, the main antagonist. A shifty, psychotic mixed Pit Bull/Bulldog gangster.
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Killer, a misnamed, cowardly, neurotic, spectacles-wearing Schnoodle.
- Supporting characters
- Loni Anderson as Flo, a female rough collie and friend of Charlie's.
- Melba Moore as a whippet angel, who welcomes deceased dogs into Heaven. She was named "Annabelle" in the sequel.
- Ken Page as King Gator, the secondary antagonist. And a giant alligator and New Orleans voodoo witch doctor living below the streets of New Orleans, who takes a liking to Charlie's voice.
- Rob Fuller and Earleen Carey as Harold and Kate, a married couple who later become Anne-Marie's new parents.
- Frank Welker as the "Devil Dog", the hellhound in Charlie's nightmare.
- Daryl Gilley as Dog Caster
- Candy Devine as Vera, a female gambler dog. In the end of the film, she plays the gospel music offscreen.
- Anna Manahan as Stella Dallas, a female race horse. She angrily reminds Sir Reginald that it's the Grand Chawhee's birthday.
- Nigel Pegram as Sir Reginald, a male race horse. He apologizes for forgetting the Grand Chawhee's birthday and helps the Grand Chawhee to win the race.
- Godfrey Quigley as Terrier
- Jay Stevens as Mastiff
- Kelly Briley as Puppy
- Cyndi Cozzo as Puppy
- Thomas Durkin as Gambler Dog
- Dana Rifkin as Fat Pup
- John K. Carr as Additional Voices (as John Carr)
- John Eddings as Additional Voices
- Jeff Etter as Additional Voices
- T. Daniel Hofstedt as Additional Voices (as Dan Hofstedt)
- Dan Kuenster as Doberman bookie
- Dan Molina as Additional Voices
- Mark Swan as Additional Voices
- Taylor Swanson as Additional Voices
- David N. Weiss as Additional Voices
- Dick Zondag as Additional Voices
The earliest idea for All Dogs Go to Heaven was conceived by Don Bluth after finishing work on The Secret of NIMH. The treatment was originally about a canine private eye, and one of three short stories making up an anthology film. The character of a shaggy German Shepherd Dog was designed specifically with Burt Reynolds in mind for the role. However, Bluth's first studio, Don Bluth Productions, was going through a period of financial difficulty, ultimately having to declare bankruptcy, and the idea never made it beyond rough storyboards. The concept was revived by Bluth, John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman and rewritten by David N. Weiss, collaborating with the producers from October through December 1987. They built around the title All Dogs Go to Heaven, and drew inspiration from films such as It's a Wonderful Life, Little Miss Marker and A Guy Named Joe. The film's title came from a book read to Bluth's fourth grade class in school, and he resisted suggestions to change it, stating he liked how "provocative" it sounded, and how people reacted to the title alone.
During the production of their previous feature film, Sullivan Bluth Studios had moved from Van Nuys, California to a state-of-the-art studio facility in Dublin, Ireland, and All Dogs Go to Heaven was their first to begin production wholly at the Irish studio. It was also their first to be funded from sources outside of Hollywood; the previous two feature films, An American Tail and The Land Before Time, had been backed by Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures, and executive producers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas had exercised a degree of control over the content of the films, a situation Bluth found disagreeable. The studio found investment from UK-based Goldcrest Films in a US$70m deal to produce three animated feature films (though only two, All Dogs Go to Heaven and Rock-a-Doodle, would be completed under the deal). The three founding members of the studio, Bluth, Pomeroy and Goldman, had all moved to Ireland to set up the new facility, but during the production of All Dogs Go to Heaven, John Pomeroy returned to the U.S. to head up a satellite studio which provided some of the animation for the film. Pomeroy also used his presence in the U.S. to generate early publicity for the film, including a presentation at the 1987 San Diego Comic-Con.
The film's lead voices, Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise, had previously appeared together in a number of films, including The Cannonball Run. For All Dogs Go to Heaven, they requested they be allowed to record their parts in the studio together (in American animation it is more common for each actor to record their part solo). Bluth agreed, and allowed Reynolds and DeLuise to ad-lib extensively; Bluth later commented "their ad-libs were often better than the original script". However, Reynolds was more complimentary of the draft, warmly quipping, "Great script, kid," as he left the studio. Another pair of voices, those of Carface and Killer (Vic Tayback and Charles Nelson Reilly, respectively) also recorded together.
As production neared completion, the studio held test screenings and decided that some of the scenes were too intense for younger viewers. Writer and producer John Pomeroy decided to shorten Charlie's nightmare about being condemned. Co-director Gary Goldman also agreed to the cut, recognizing that the concession needed to be made in the name of commercial appeal. Don Bluth owns a private film print of the uncut version, which has yet to be released onto video or DVD. In the song "Let Me Be Surprised", Charlie says "Damn that Carface. I'll kill him!"
Release and reaction 
Dissatisfied with the terms imposed by Universal Studios, which had distributed their previous two films, the studio found an alternative distributor in United Artists. Somewhat unusually, production investors Goldcrest Films covered the cost of the release prints and the promotional campaign, in return for a greatly reduced distribution fee from UA. This was similar to the arrangement with United Artists when they distributed Bluth's first feature film, The Secret of NIMH. Goldcrest Films invested $15 million in printing and promoting the film. Due to contractual issues, very little tie-in merchandise accompanied the film's theatrical release; a computer game adaptation for the Commodore Amiga's DOS system (with a free software package) was released, and restaurant chain Wendy's offered toys with their Kids' Meals or regular fries.
All Dogs Go to Heaven opened in North America on November 17, 1989, the same time as Walt Disney Pictures' full-length animated motion picture The Little Mermaid; once again, Sullivan Bluth Studios' latest feature would be vying for box office receipts with Disney's, just as their last two films (An American Tail and The Land Before Time) had. It received many mixed reviews from critics, drawing unfavorable comparisons to Disney's offering, criticizing the disjointed narrative, the quality of the animation, and the songs by Charlie Strouse and T.J. Kuenster. Some also found the darker subject material objectionable in a family film, featuring as it does depictions of death, violence, drinking, smoking, gambling, demons and Hell. But other reviews were mostly positive, with critics praising the film's emotional qualities, humor and vibrant color palette. Roger Ebert, who was unimpressed with An American Tail, gave it three out of four stars. More recent reviews of the film have generally been less harsh, with Box Office Mojo awarding it a B- rating. However, film critic Leonard Maltin gave this movie one-and-a-half out of four stars, due to "unappealing characters, confusing storytelling, and forgettable songs."
On its theatrical release, while still making its budget of $13.8 million back, All Dogs Go to Heaven's performance fell short of Sullivan Bluth Studios' previous box office successes, grossing US$27m in North America alone, just over half of what An American Tail and The Land Before Time each took. However, the film became a sleeper hit on its home video release; a strong promotional campaign helped it become one of the top-selling VHS releases of all time, selling over 3 million copies in its first month.
Sequels and Spin-off 
The success of the film, particularly its performance on home video, prompted several follow-up productions. A theatrical sequel, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2; a television series, All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series; and An All Dogs Christmas Carol, a Christmas movie based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, were made. Don Bluth and his studio had no involvement with any of them. Dom DeLuise voiced Itchy in all of them.
On July 1, 1991, a soundtrack to All Dogs Go to Heaven was released, but according to Amazon.com, it has been discontinued by the manufacturer.
- Track listing
- "Love Survives" - Irene Cara and Freddie Jackson - Length: 3:25 (Unlike the NTSC version, the soundtrack and European versions sound high-pitched.)
- "Mardi Gras" - Music Score - Length: 1:17
- "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down" - Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise - Length: 2:30
- "Hellhound" - Music Score - Length: 2:09
- "What's Mine Is Yours" - Burt Reynolds - Length: 1:48
- "At the Race Track" - Music Score - Length: 1:49
- "Let Me Be Surprised" - Melba Moore and Burt Reynolds - Length: 4:54
- "Soon You'll Come Home" (Anne-Marie's Theme) - Lana Beeson - Length: 2:38
- "Money Montage" - Music Score - Length: 3:43
- "Dogs to the Rescue" - Music Score - Length: 3:10
- "Let's Make Music Together" - Ken Page and Burt Reynolds - Length: 2:24
- "Goodbye Anne-Marie" - Music Score - Length: 2:10
- "Hallelujah" - Candy Devine - 1:21
- Ask Us Questions at [donbluth.com]
- Box Office Mojo
- "Local News in Brief : Bodies Identified as Child Actress, Mother". latimes.com. 1988-07-29. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Cawley, An American Tail
- Cawley, The Land Before Time
- Cawley, At Home in Ireland
- Cawley, All Dogs Go to Heaven
- Beck, The Animated Movie Guide p.14
- "Retro Junk - Wendy's All Dogs Go to Heaven Toys".
- Rainer, Peter (1989-17-17). "All Dogs Go to Heaven (review)". L.A. Times.
- Kempley, Rita (1989-17-17). "All Dogs Go to Heaven (review)". New York Times.
- Carr, Jay (1989-17-17). "All Dogs Go to Heaven (review)". Boston Globe.
- Ebert, Roger (1989-17-17). "All Dogs Go to Heaven (review)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Kehr, Dave (1989-17-17). "All Dogs Go to Heaven (review)". Chicago Tribune.
- "Don Bluth - Box Office Data".
- Lenburg, p.32
- Amazon.com: All Dogs Go to Heaven: Various Artists: Music
- SoundtrackCollector: Soundtrack details: All Dogs Go To Heaven
- Beck, Jerry (October 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.
- Cawley, John (October 1991). The Animated Films of Don Bluth. Image Pub of New York. ISBN 0-685-50334-8.
- Lenburg, Jeff (June 2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film and Television's Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. Applause Books. p. 32. ISBN 1-55783-671-X.
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