If you’ve never seen The Doberman Gang, drop something and track this silly film down at some point. Sure, it’s a (mostly) family-geared gimmick flick about a bunch of smart dobermans trained by a somewhat smart guy to rob a bank and sure, if you’re a dog person, you’ll like this a lot more than if you’re not. But there’s a certain quirky energy to this one (partially thanks to Alan Silvestri’s bouncy score) that makes it purely enjoyable to a point that you may find yourself cheering these pooches on as they purloin cash-packed pouches and attempt to make good their escape…
It’s actually pretty amusing to see the setup play out, from the idea of dogs robbing a bank, the humans (a cast of no-names you won’t even remember once this one’s over) planning this heist setting up all sorts of plans and even making a life-size mockup of the bank for the dogs to pretend rob. I recall seeing this flick as a kid back in 1972 (on a double feature with a film I’ve long forgotten) and being amazed that the robbers were somehow able to build that mock bank setup with its life-size photos of employees for what seemed like no money. Yeah, even back then my critical eye was a wee bit too sharp. Granted, if there ever was a remake, I’m sure we’d see the entire robbery simulated on a computer in virtual reality something high-tech-y like that. Then again, you wouldn’t need to rob a bank if you could afford a decent VR setup, right?
Anyway, the dobermans (all named after Prohibition-era gangster types) get trained in the ways of grand larceny in some great scenes and after some ups and downs with the human cast, it’s off to the robbery proper. I won’t spoil a thing save to say it goes as you’d expect to some extent and there’s a nice twist at the ending that’s amusing and shows that crime never pays (sort of). I haven’t mentioned the cast at all because other than the late Julie Parrish, they’re all forgettable actors in that 1970’s way where you pretty much had a cast of nobodies playing second fiddle to a script with a few hooks in it. Byron Mabe, Hal Reed, Simmy Bow, JoJo D’Amore, John Tull and Jay Paxton are their names, so go look them up on your own time. This particular review is too short for me to troll around researching and it’s the dogs you’ll be paying more attention to anyway.
There were actually two sequels made (The Daring Dobermans and The Amazing Dobermans) and both were pretty lame in my eyes because they cast the dogs as more heroic types, robbing a corrupt politician in the second film and stopping a robbery in the final one. Of course, that latter film is worth a look for it’s amazing casting (Fred Astaire, Barbara Eden, James Franciscus and Billy Barty are in that 1976 film!), but I haven’t seen that dog in years and have no intentions of doing so any time soon. Okay, time to call the Dog Police on this quickie. It’s a real howler, for sure but it also has its moments… Woof!