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Today’s guest post comes from Jan of the Poodle (and Dog) Blog, an upbeat and sassy source for canine news. Originally published as Turner and Hooch — Unlikely Movie Buddies, the post has been reprinted here with screencaps and Jan’s gracious permission.

Film: Turner and Hooch
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Performers: Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson, Beasley the Dog, of Curley’s TNT Kennels (Hooch)
Breeds featured: French Mastiff / Dogue de Bordeaux, Rough Collie
Production Information: Touchstone / Silver Screen Partners IV, 1989 (USA)

Turner and Hooch is an early Tom Hanks movie before he convinced everyone that he could act and win Academy Awards and be more selective about his choice of roles.

It may be a Tom Hanks movie, but Hooch, a smelly, slobbery Mastiff, was the runaway star of the film. It was an instant success when it came out.

Hanks plays Turner, an anal retentive detective in a small California town. When a local man is murdered by drug smugglers, the only witness is Hooch. Suspecting that Hooch might be able to identify the killer, Turner unwillingly takes Hooch into his meticulous home.

It doesn’t stay meticulous for long as Hooch goes on a drooling and demolition binge.

There really isn’t much of a plot. There are a series of funny sequences between the two unlikely roommates as Turner is intent on showing “Why man will prevail and your kind will never dominate the earth.”

Predictably Turner and Hooch develop a warm human-dog chemistry.

Then for reasons known only to the film makers, they decide to make an action-melodrama movie out of the ending. When Turner is hopelessly outmaneuvered by the bad guys, Hooch steps in and goes all kamikaze to save his life.

Turner and Hooch unfortunately has an Old Yeller ending which seems out of keeping with the rest of the movie.

Don’t be alarmed though, Hooch has left behind a bunch of adorable puppies [sired with a plush-looking Rough Collie! ~ ed.] that are supposed to make us all feel better at the end. It didn’t work with Old Yeller and it doesn’t work here.

Hooch is played by Beasley, a Dogue de Bordeaux or French Mastiff, in his only starring role.

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Hooch’s drool made this film difficult for me to stay focused (sorry, I gotta admit SOME biases!), so I thank Jan for her contribution. Perhaps I have more in common with Tom Hanks’ “anal retentive” character than I care to admit. There’s a reason I stick to breeds known for their fastidiousness…

One thing that impressed me was the age of Beasley the dog at the time of filming. Born in 1978, he was apparently eleven years old when this film was made. This is significant, given the short lifespan of the breed (averages are recorded to be as short as 4 years in some surveys, or 6 years in more “generous” assessments). Though a few other (uncredited) dogs play his stunt doubles, he was looking pretty good through most of the film — minus the yards of stringy, flying drool of course.

The House of Two Bows keeps a running index of movies blurbed on the site, annotated by breed. If you’re interested in writing a guest blog for a dog film, contact for details.

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