Martin Scorsese knows movies and he knows a bit about dogs too. In a letter to The Los Angeles Times, he writes that:
One recent morning, I turned on the television, and imagine my surprise when I heard the nominations for the first Golden Collar Awards for Best Dog in a Theatrical Film. After all, we had Blackie the Doberman in our movie. How could she not be nominated?
I listened in vain for Blackie's name to be called, and then to all the hullabaloo over a certain Jack Russell terrier named Uggie. Actually, Uggie is so adorable that he received two nominations for two separate pictures. Well done.
OK, let's lay all our cards on the table. Jack Russell terriers are small and cute. Dobermans are enormous and — handsome. More tellingly, Uggie plays a nice little mascot who does tricks and saves his master's life in one of the films, while Blackie gives an uncompromising performance as a ferocious guard dog who terrorizes children. I'm sure you can see what I'm driving at....
I detect... deep-seated prejudice at work. Jack Russell terriers were bred in the 19th century for the purposes of fox hunting by an Englishman, the Rev. John Russell. Dobermans were bred by a German tax collector who was afraid of being bludgeoned to death by the citizenry. But does that mean we must condemn the entire breed? Must we forget the magnificent physical achievements of such legendary Dobermans as Bingo von Ellendonk (who achieved a perfect score in the storied Schutzhund competition), Borong the Warlock, Baracuda Liborium or Caravelle Drillbit?
No Mr. Scorsese, we have not forgotten, and that's the problem.
You see, it was Doberman's that ate Gregory Peck in The Boys from Brazil.
There was an entire movie with trained Dobermans's as bank robbers (The Doberman Gang), and Magnum PI was always being intimidated by Higgen's dogs, Zeus and Apollo.
And then there's They Only Kill Their Masters. The plot is right there in the title.
As for the magnificent physical achievements of Bingo von Ellendonk, that was for Schutzhund, in which a dog is instructed to attack a human, albeit a human clothed in a lot of padding to soften the rather formidable bite.
So have we forgotten the Doberman? No we have not!
But is the world going to salute a tax-collector's dog designed to intimidate and rip into human flesh, rather than a Jack Russell terrier who redeems human life and makes us all laugh?
No, probably not.
The world still loves happy endings.