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The Doberman Gang / The Daring Dobermans



I can't believe a film franchise existed that I had never heard of, but that's "The Doberman Gang" in a pinch. The 1972 independent crime film was successful enough to spawn three sequels. The original and its immediate 1973 follow-up, "The Daring Dobermans," arrive on DVD in a star-free double feature from the burn-to-order Warner Archive.

"Gang" sounds like the stuff of Disney flicks, with a few crooks bungling a bank robbery so bad that they may never steal another cent until the leader (Byron Mabe) gets the bright idea to round up some Dobermans and train them — via color-coded whistles corresponding to their spiked collars —? to do their criminal activity for them.

The training sequences are the highlight of the film, until the climatic heist, which shouldn't be as much fun to watch as it is. It ends in a twist bloody enough to make you wonder how that G rating was earned.

Using no characters from "Gang" who don't have four legs, "Daring" picks up nearly immediately, with well-armed rednecks canvassing the mountains for the escaped Dobermans, presumably running around with several tens of thousands of dollars attached to them in satchels.

This sequel's core of three criminals finds the dogs, and quickly hatches a scheme to get more money by having man's best friend hold up a political campaign office. To do this, the guys build a ridiculously elaborate facsimile for training before unleashing the mutts on the high-rise locale. It's a genius plan ... if only some pesky American Indian boy doesn't screw it all up.

It's essentially the same story, with few tweaks. Both movies are simple affairs, with family appeal. Just note that the no-goodniks drink Coors, smoke cigarettes and, in Mabe's case, bed a waitress (with no nudity shown). The sequel has a touch more levity than its grimmer predecessor, but it's tough to give an edge to either caper.

I expected to find these films boring, yet my 10-year-old daughter and I watched them back-to-back. Do away with notions of logic, and ignore the goofy songs, and you'll find that they're quite fun. Now my daughter and I are scouring the Internet for the rest of the series. —?Rod Lott

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