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All Dogs Go to Heaven
AllDogsGotoHeaven.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Don Bluth
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Screenplay by David N. Weiss
Story by
  • Don Bluth
  • Ken Cromar
  • Gary Goldman
  • Larry Leker
  • Linda Miller
  • Monica Parker
  • John Pomeroy
  • Guy Schulman
  • David J. Steinberg
  • David N. Weiss
Starring
Music by Ralph Burns
Editing by John K. Carr
Studio Goldcrest Films
Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd.
Distributed by MGM/UA Communications Co. (United States)
The Rank Organisation (United Kingdom/Ireland)
Release date(s) November 17, 1989 (1989-11-17) (United States)
February 8, 1990 (1990-02-08) (United Kingdom)
April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06) (Ireland)
Running time 85 minutes
Country Ireland
United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $13.8 million
Money made US$27.1 million

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated musical fantasy adventure comedy-drama film directed by Don Bluth and co-directed by Gary Goldman (his directorial debut) and Dan Kuenster. It tells the story of Charlie B. Barkin (voiced by Burt Reynolds), a German Shepherd that is murdered by his former friend, Carface Carruthers (voiced by Vic Tayback, in his penultimate film role), but withdraws from his place in Heaven to return to Earth, where his best friend, Itchy Itchiford (voiced by Dom DeLuise), still lives, in order to take revenge on Carface, but ends up befriending a young orphan girl named Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi in her final film role; posthumously). In the process, Charlie learns an important lesson about kindness, friendship and love.

The film is an Irish, British and American venture, produced by Goldcrest Films and Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd.. On its cinema release, it competed directly with Walt Disney Feature Animation's The Little Mermaid, released on the same day. While it did not repeat the box-office success of Sullivan Bluth's previous feature films, An American Tail and The Land Before Time, it was successful on home video, becoming one of the biggest-selling VHS releases ever. It inspired a theatrical sequel, a television series, and a holiday direct-to-video film.

All Dogs Go to Heaven was released on DVD on November 17, 1998, and as an MGM Kids edition on March 6, 2001. It had a DVD double-feature release with its sequel on March 14, 2006, and January 18, 2011. The film was released in high definition for the first time on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011, without special features except the original theatrical trailer.

Plot

In 1939 New Orleans, Slightly good-natured but generally scheming Charlie B. Barkin and his best friend Itchy Itchiford escape from the dog pound and return to their casino riverboat on the bayou, formerly run by Charlie himself and his business partner, Carface Caruthers. Refusing to share the profits with Charlie, Carface had been responsible for Charlie and Itchy getting committed to the pound and persuades Charlie to leave town with half of the casino's earnings. Charlie agrees, but is later intoxicated and killed by a car pushed downhill by Carface and his assistant, Killer. Charlie is sent to Heaven by default despite not having done any good deeds in his life; a whippet angel explains to him that because dogs are inherently good and loyal, all dogs go to Heaven and are entitled to paradise. Charlie cheats death by stealing a gold pocket watch representing his life and winding it back. As Charlie descends back to Earth, the whippet angel tells him that he can never return to Heaven; when the watch stops again, he will be sent to Hell instead. However, as long as the watch continues to run, Charlie will be immortal.

After Charlie reunites with Itchy and plots revenge in the form of a rivaling business, they discover that Carface has kidnapped a young orphaned girl named Anne-Marie for her ability to talk to animals, which proves advantageous when betting on races. Charlie rescues her and promises to feed the poor and help her find a family. The next day at the race track, Charlie steals a wallet from a couple as they talk to Anne-Marie and become alarmed by her ragged appearance. Charlie and Itchy use their winnings to build a successful casino in the junkyard where they live. Anne-Marie, upon realizing that she has been used, threatens to leave. To persuade her to stay, Charlie brings pizza to a family of poor puppies and their mother, Flo, at the old abandoned church. While there, Anne-Marie becomes angry at Charlie for stealing the wallet. As Charlie has a nightmare in which he is condemned to Hell, Anne-Marie returns the wallet to the couple, Kate and Harold. While they privately discuss adopting her, Charlie arrives and tricks her into leaving with him. Charlie and Anne-Marie narrowly escape an ambush by Carface and Killer and hide in an abandoned building, but the ground breaks and they fall into the lair of King Gator, a giant effeminate alligator. He and Charlie bond over a love of music and he lets them go, but Anne-Marie contracts pneumonia.

Carface and his thugs destroy Charlie's casino and attack Itchy. An injured Itchy limps back to the church and confronts Charlie about his relationship with Anne-Marie, who Itchy thinks matters more than him. In his exasperation, Charlie loudly proclaims that he is using her and will eventually "dump her in an orphanage". Anne-Marie overhears the conversation and tearfully runs away before she is kidnapped by Carface. Charlie follows them to Carface's casino, where he is ambushed by Carface and his thugs. They fight with Charlie, inadvertently setting an oil fire that soon engulfs the whole structure. Charlie's pained howls from their bites summon King Gator, who chases down and devours Carface. In the chaos, both Anne-Marie and the watch fall into the water. Unable to rescue both at the same time, Charlie rescues Anne-Marie and places her onto some driftwood and pushes her toward safety; however, the watch stops before he can reach it, ending his life, so Killer finishes pushing her to shore, where Kate and Harold are waiting with police and medical personnel. Sometime later, Kate and Harold adopt Anne-Marie, who has also adopted Itchy. Charlie, having sacrificed himself to save Anne-Marie, has earned back his place in Heaven, and is allowed to return in ghost form to reconcile with Anne-Marie. Leaving Itchy in her care, Charlie returns to Heaven, where Carface finally arrives and takes his own clock, vowing revenge against King Gator. As the whippet angel chases him and warns against using it, Charlie assures the audience that "he'll be back" before winking and retrieving his halo.

Voice cast

  • Burt Reynolds as Charlie B. Barkin, a brash German Shepherd and a former con artist. 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, anxious but loyal Dachshund.
    • DeLuise reprised his role in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, the series and An All Dogs Christmas Carol.
  • Judith Barsi as Anne-Marie, a 7-year-old orphan girl with the ability to talk to and understand animals. Her singing voice was performed by Lana Beeson. This was Barsi's final film role before her murder in 1988. The ending credits song "Love Survives" was dedicated in her memory as her character became absent in the further franchise.
  • Vic Tayback as Carface Caruthers, a violent, sadistic mixed blue-nosed American Pit Bull Terrier/Bulldog gangster. This was Tayback's final film role before his death in 1990. For All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series and An All Dogs Christmas Carol, Ernest Borgnine took Tayback's role.
  • Charles Nelson Reilly as Killer, a misnamed, fidgety, neurotic and spectacles-wearing Schnoodle who is Carface's comic relief sidekick. Reilly was the second original voice actor that reprised his role in the series and An All Dogs Christmas Carol except for the sequel.
  • Loni Anderson as Flo, a female Rough Collie and Charlie's friend.
  • Melba Moore as a Whippet angel who welcomes deceased dogs into Heaven. She was named "Annabelle" in the 1996 sequel and its subsequent syndicated television series. Bebe Neuwirth succeeded Melba in this role.
  • Ken Page as King Gator, an American alligator and voodoo witch doctor living below the streets of New Orleans.
  • Rob Fuller and Earleen Carey as Kate and Harold, a married couple who later become Anne-Marie's adoptive parents.
  • Godfrey Quigley as Terrier, a dog that appears when Itchy tells everyone Anne-Marie is in danger.
  • Anna Manahan as Stella Dallas, a horse that appears when Anne-Marie, Charlie, and Itchy are at the derby. She is against the Once Upon a Wintertime Team.
  • Candy Devine as Vera, a female gambling dog.

Soundtrack

All Dogs Go to Heaven Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released July 1, 1989
Genre Soundtrack
Length 33:18
Label Curb Records
Producer Ralph Burns
Don Bluth Music of Films chronology
The Land Before Time
(1988)
All Dogs Go to Heaven
(1989)
Rock-a-Doodle
(1992)

The music for All Dogs Go to Heaven was composed by Ralph Burns with lyrics by Charles Strouse, T.J. Kuenster, Joel Hirschhorn, and Al Kasha. An official soundtrack was released on July 1, 1989, by Curb Records on audio cassette and CD featuring 13 tracks, including seven vocal songs performed by various cast members. The ending credits theme and the theme song of the movie "Love Survives" was dedicated to Anne-Marie's voice actress Judith Barsi, who was shot by her father, József, along with her mother, Maria, before the film's release on July 25, 1988.

 Professional ratings
Source Rating
AllMusic
No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Love Survives"   Irene Cara and Freddie Jackson 3:28
2. "Mardi Gras"     1:18
3. "You Can't Keep a Good Dog Down"   Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise 2:35
4. "Hellbound"     2:11
5. "What's Mine is Yours"   Burt Reynolds 1:49
6. "At the Race Track"     1:52
7. "Let Me Be Surprised"   Melba Moore and Burt Reynolds 4:56
8. "Soon You'll Come Home" (Anne-Marie's Theme)"   Lana Beeson 2:40
9. "Money Montage"     3:46
10. "Dogs to the Rescue"     3:11
11. "Let's Make Music Together"   Ken Page and Burt Reynolds 2:27
12. "Goodbye Anne-Marie"     2:10
13. "Hallelujah"   Candy Devine 1:21
Total length:
33:18

Awards and honors

All Dogs Go to Heaven received a nomination for "Best Family Motion Picture: Adventure or Cartoon" at the 11th annual Youth in Film Awards ceremony, being beaten by Disney's The Little Mermaid. The home video release received an Award of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board.

Award Nomination Nominee Result
Youth in Film Award Best Family Motion Picture: Adventure or Cartoon All Dogs Go to Heaven Nominated

Sequel, TV series and Christmas special

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 television movie based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, were made. Don Bluth and his studio had no involvement with any of them, and Burt Reynolds did not reprise his role as Charlie after the first film; he was replaced in the sequel film and television series by Charlie Sheen and Steven Weber, respectively. Charles Nelson Reilly declined to return for the sequel film, but voiced Killer for the television productions. Dom DeLuise played Itchy through the entire franchise.

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