The Doberman Gang

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WOWWWWWW ok so this is a movie from 1972 about a group of criminals who decide to train a bunch of dogs to rob a bank. But honestly it is so much more than that.

So, the first scene of the movie is three guys who successfully rob a bank, (Eddie, Sammy and Jojo) but put the money into the wrong car as they leave (the trunk was open! Classic mistake) and get away with nothing. Then we see a really interesting scene about masculinity that would never happen today where the three of them are just all really disappointed in themselves in a hotel room and no one’s mad at anyone. They all just take the blame themselves and feel like they let their friends down. So cute!

The mastermind, Eddie, laments for a while that he can’t rob a bank with robots, (he keeps saying how much humans make mistakes and I thought that would be a cool place to take a very different turn and have this be an AI crime movie) but he eventually just lands on dogs. After this thought he realizes the day’s disappointments are too much for him so he goes to where men with shaggy bowl cuts feel emotionally heard, a diner. It’s not a true diner experience unless you have sex with a waitress in what looks like a Joni Mitchell music video, so he does that too. After successfully having sex with a woman and drinking coffee, he goes on a walk at night to clear his head and just, figure this whole dang thing out.

During his walk at night (where I’m sure he wasn’t worried about being raped at all), he sees some youths jump a fence to a car lot. But before they can steal any thing, a group of Doberman Pinchers round them up and hold them until the owner calls the police. Eddie gives the dogs a smug but knowing grin, then goes back to his room.

The next day, without the internet, he tries to learn about dog training which is a journey in itself! Remember what the world used to be like? First he figures out what type of dogs he saw, because apparently that wasn’t common knowledge 40 years ago. Then he poses as a journalist (the next logical step) you know, for breaking all those hard hitting dog stories, and interviews this guy who works with the military training dogs,  Barney. Barney tells an amazing story about his buddy who lost his life saving him jumping on a landmine to protect him in Vietnam and he’s like, “You wanna see a picture?” and of course, you guessed it, his friend is a dog.

Eddie convinces Barney to quit the military and come train dogs with him, for little to no reason. Eddie then buys an entire barn somehow even though their last bank robbery was a failure, and the other two men steal six Doberman Pinschers and one bulldog (a baker’s dozen!) in a VW bus (it’s the 70’s) and get to trainin’.

The training of the dogs is the first full hour of the movie, which I respect a lot. You can’t just tell people six dogs are going to rob a bank and expect them to believe you, you have to show us. And wow, do they. There are only three dog training montages in this movie and the rest is in real-time. It’s a lot of dog training. The idea mostly revolves around specialized whistles, and tones. It’s very high tech, Barney brought this info from the military and it’s probably top secret.

Each dog has a different color collar and they are all named after bank robbers (Bonnie, Dillinger, Pretty Boy, etc). The trainer still somehow has no idea what is going on, he thinks they’re training them to be guard dogs (Why would a guard dog need to carry a scrolled up note and learn how to jump on a counter with it?) and then after he gets a crush on the waitress he decides to poke his nose around and find out what’s really going on. He goes into the barn, which has been turned into a full scale replica of the bank from some photos that Eddie took from a secret camera he hid in a cast.

The trainer is like, “I don’t want to do this” and Eddie’s like, “ok then we’ll just kill the dogs” which was smart because he needed Barney to finish/couldn’t do it without him /needed a reason for him to stay involved. Barney agrees on the condition that he gets half the money since he’s doing all the work, and one of the other guys threatens to kill him so then he agrees to split it four ways.

Meanwhile the waitress has asked for some money cause she’s doing a lot of work too and quit her job to be there every day and Eddie’s just like, “this is business but I’ll take care of you sugar tits” he doesn’t say that last part but he might as well have. They’re robbing the bank for like 600,000 dollars and he says he’ll give her ten thousand, which you don’t have to be good at math to know is not fractionally that great. She’s pissed so she starts kissing Barney in the woods. It’s not very sensual at all.

When Eddie finds out he calls HER a dog, to the trainer he says, “teach your dog some better manners,” RUDE so she throws soup on him (gotta always have some soup handy in case a man’s going to be misogynistic to you) then Eddie HITS HER and pushes her to the ground. Because this was the 70’s and women basically weren’t people yet, none of the men care, and this movie presents it as a light-hearted little tiff that they have that never gets mentioned again/handled.

Each dog gets spikes on their collar because at some point Eddie asks if anyone could stop them and Barney’s like, “I guess someone could grab them by the throat?” and he’s like, “Oh ok, so spikes then.” I like to think that’s how Spike TV began, just a bunch of dudes not wanting to get stopped by anyone.

They do a run through but someone draws the curtains at the bank so then they go back as a Drapery Business and take all the curtains down to be cleaned or something.

The dogs can’t get in the bank because it’s a pull handle, so they have to wait for people to enter and exit. No one really seems to notice or care as six Doberman Pinschers enter the bank with spiked collars and canvas saddlebags and lie down at strategic areas all throughout the bank. No one except the only black person in the entire movie, a janitor who keeps trying to alert people who ignore him. Is there a lesson and metaphor to be learned & extrapolated from this? You betcha!

The criminals see the janitor trying to tell the guard from their window perch a building away and blow the whistles that mean attack and one of the dogs mauls the security guard. Then when they have everyone’s attention the dog with the note in his mouth (the sensitive one) approaches the teller and she reads it out loud. The note says to fill the bags with money. The tellers first try to put stacks of paper in, “Will they be able to tell?” “I don’t think so, they’re dogs,” the dogs start growling because the dudes saw it from across the street and blow the whistle that means “that’s not real money..”

So, the dogs get all the money, no one gets mauled who hasn’t been mauled already and they head back to the barn. When the two guys who took the drapes down drove back to the barn, they drove slowly and spread dirt from the farm on the way back home like little breadcrumbs of scent for the dogs to follow. They do follow, but one of the dogs gets hit by a car on the way back and dies in the street. One of his friend dogs comes up like he’s going to try to help him in some way which I was very emotionally ready for, but he just takes his saddlebag full of money and keeps running. Cold as ice!!

When all the dogs get back the three original dudes (I forgot to say that the trainer quits right after all the dogs get in the bank, he takes a dramatic stand, “You forgot a dog saved my life once, and now I’m going to return the favor” but anyone can blow the whistles so they just keep going without him) are waiting pleased as punch BUT THEN the waitress blows the attack whistle from the top of the hill (they left the bank separately and she was strategically perched) and they MAUL all three of the dudes. She doesn’t call them off until they’re fully incapacitated (but not dead) and she lets the dude she was hooking up with who hit her get mauled the longest, which seems fair.

Then she calls them and they come to her and she’s so happy and proud, but when she tries to take the bags of money they all start growling at her. Then the BULLDOG takes the whistles and runs away and all the Dobermans follow him. Then the credits roll. It is implied that the trainer trained them all to bring him all the money, because after the credits there is a sound clip of him saying, “Good job” to the dogs and them like licking him or something. I like my personal interpretation that he and the bulldog were fucking the whole time, but I don’t think many people are going to get behind that.

The end of this movie was like in The Dark Knight when all the clowns in the heist for the Joker start killing the last person to help, except with dogs mauling people in a barn.

It was really fun and amazing, more than I could have ever hoped. First of all, the whole movie had a very chill vibe to it, all the scenes in the beginning, the bank robbery, the sex, the car-jacking then subsequent dog attack, it’s all incredibly mellow. Lulling even. I was watching this with my friend Laura and we had to turn on a light because everything was so soothing we were falling asleep. For a movie with a fair amount of dog murder, that is a feat.

Some things were hilarious, like in the beginning when the alarm goes off there’s just a big box outside the bank that says, “Bank Robbery Alarm” which I don’t really think is how that works but I also don’t own a bank.

The music!! It’s an original score and one of the songs is something like, “Man’s best friend, enemy number one” and it’s all about the dogs robbing the bank, as you might expect. The guy who scored this also scored Forest Gump and the Back to the Future trilogy which makes sense because it’s an expansive tale and there are some interesting choices involving banjos.

The main guy had a very weird vibe, his hair covered his ears but didn’t go to his shoulders which is a very untrustworthy length. He also wore his shoes all the time?? Even on the bed and probably during sex but I couldn’t see because there was a blanket. Maybe that’s the tradeoff, if you show vulnerability you have to be overly masculine in some other way, like never having bare feet. He also wore a lot of turtlenecks with blazers while the waitress wore some really cute crop tops and midi skirts and it’s like, ok, but what season is it?

There’s one weird scene where they all laugh too hard at dirt? The trainer is explaining how he can get the dogs to come back to the barn without following anyone even though it’s three miles away and he pulls out this Folger coffee can (it’s not a movie from the 70’s if there’s not a beat up old coffee can that’s integral to the plot somehow!) and he’s like, “I’m just gonna drop this dirt from the farm that’s a familiar scent and they’ll follow it” then everyone BURSTS into laughter for like 2 minutes, it felt very odd and excessive. There was also a shot in the beginning of Eddie in the diner before we know he’s fucking the waitress where she’s just pouring his coffee that lasts for like a minute and a half which, in movie time, feels like an eternity.

They say a lot of damaging things about Dobermans which seems irresponsible!!! Now that we see where the culture has headed with this breed, but that’s for another day! I was hoping for a redemption arc with the dogs that never came, they were portrayed as pretty cruel/bloodthirsty throughout but I know if I dated them long enough I could change them.

Overall so fun!!! There are two sequels, and one stars Fred Astaire which I hope means that that one is a musical.

8/11 dog collars, would definitely masturbate again.

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