All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

After literally digging his way out of the city pound (the canine equivalent of prison), Charlie (Burt Reynolds) and his long-suffering best friend Itchy (Dom DeLuise) make their way back to the casino that Charlie used to run with Carface (Charlie’s name is conspicuously scratched out on all the signs). All of the dogs are shocked to see Charlie, since apparently he was meant to be “on death row” (scheduled to be euthanized if I had to take a guess). Charlie doesn’t have a clue that it was Carface who set him up to be taken away in the first place, he’s too busy enjoying his freedom. As Charlie explains (with Itchy’s help), nothing is ever going to keep this dog down!

 

Why settle for a couple of bones when you can have the whole bank?”
Oh you can’t keep a good dog down (No sir)
No you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve seen pain and hurt, I’ve eaten dirt (That’s true)
It’s hard to buy but even I have been jilted by a skirt (He lies)
But look out, I’m still around
Cause you can’t keep a good dog down

Ya can’t keep a good dog down (No you can’t)
No no no no, you can’t keep a good dog down
I’ve been bought and sold
He’s been warm and cold
But ten to one I’ll still be runnin’ rackets when I’m old
Not in some cage in the city pound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down

In him’s the luck of the Irish
The pride of the German
And even a bit of Siam
Siam? You see the come of the English
The charm of the Spanish
A pedigree certainly ain’t what I am
So call me a mixed up pup
(You’re a mixed up pup)
But the only way this pup knows is up
Ya can’t keep a good dog down
Ya can’t keep a good dog down

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I need to talk about this verse before we move on to the rest of the song. I nearly fell over in shock when Itchy did the line “And even a bit of Siam” complete with a bowl on his head and a faux Asian face (granted it’s not as extreme as older Asian stereotypes, but still!) The reference to Siam is not a problem in and of itself as the film takes place about 4 months before Siam became Thailand (while only the year 1939 is given, Carface later mentions Mardi Gras which takes place in February). No, my problem is that in a film made in the late 1980s, they thought it was okay to include a racist, Asian stereotype. That is not okay!

This concludes my rant, now back to the song:

He’s been fat and thin
I’ve been out and in
He tried a life of virtue
But prefer a life of sin
So tonight when we own this town
I’ve known hunger, I’ve known thirst
Lived the best and seen the worst
But the only way I know to finish best to finish first
So watch out when you hear this sound
Cause you can’t keep a good dog, no ya
Can’t keep a good, I say you can’t keep a good dog down
You can’t keep a good dog down!

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise were friends for many years and you can really feel a solid dynamic between them as they perform this song. The song makes it clear that Charlie is popular, charismatic and a confirmed crook (the last verse even mentions “He tried a life of virtue but prefer a life of sin” It’s not wonder Charlie is so nervous about judgement once he arrives in Heaven). I also noticed that despite being a dog, Charlie acts remarkably human during this scene (in that he stands and performs on two legs). Most of the time Charlie gets around like a regular dog, but this is a noticeable exception (sometimes I wonder if Bluth originally meant to make the dogs more anthropomorphic and then changed his mind).

The Siam moment aside (do let me know what you think about that in the comments), “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” provides a rousing musical start to the film. Which is good because the story only gets darker from here (at some point I’ll write some articles pointing out all the Nightmare Fuel aspects of this film). In the meantime, let me know what you think about “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” in the comments below and have a great day! Thanks for helping the blog reach 650 followers!

See also:

All Dogs Go to Heaven “Let Me Be Surprised” (1989)

All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 “It Feels so Good to be Bad!” (1996)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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2 thoughts on “All Dogs Go to Heaven “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” (1989)

  1. Pingback: All Dogs Go to Heaven “Let Me Be Surprised” (1989) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 “It Feels so Good to be Bad!” (1996) | Film Music Central

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