White Dog (The Criterion Collection)
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SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the uncut version, approved by producer Jon Davison
New video interviews with producer Davison, co-writer Curtis Hanson, and Sam Fuller s widow, Christa Lang-Fuller
An interview with dog trainer Karl Lewis-Miller
Rare photos from the film s production
PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critics J. Hoberman and Armond White, plus a rare 1982 interview in which Fuller interviews the canine star of the film
Top Customer Reviews
What was falsely labeled an incendiary racist film that could provoke real life violence is instead a bold anti-racist parable about how racism is learned or taught. In the movie the metaphor is a dog that has been trained to attack people with dark skin.
The origin of the story is a harrowing true incident Romain Gary wrote about in Life magazine.
The movie story is simple. Julie Sawyer (Kristy McNichol in her first adult role) is a young actress who, while driving one night, accidentally hits a white German shepherd on a mountain road. She takes it to a vet and tries to find the owner. In the meantime, Julie grows attached to the dog. One night it saves her from a intruder who attempts to rape her. Later, the dog runs away and comes home bloody. On a movie set with Julie, the dog attacks a black actress. Julie realizes the dog has been trained as an attack dog so she takes it to "Noah's Ark" an animal shelter and training facility hoping the dog can be deprogrammed in some way. She is told that the dog is a "white dog," one trained to attack black people. At the facility, Keys (Paul Winfield), a dog expert sees this as an opportunity to see if racial prejudice can be unlearned.
This low-budget film is sometimes heavy-handed but is immensely watchable and the restored uncut widescreen transfer is, as with all Criterion editions, made from the best elements available and is very crisp and clean.
Kristy McNichol has a natural, winning charisma on screen. Her top billing is justified and she has an easy, believable chemistry with the dog (actually five dogs were used).Read more ›
Now, Sam, am I being sold on the idea that the only cure for racist white dogs is a bullet? My grandfather was an admitted racist. I was fortunate to be raised by a Mom and a Dad who did not see a color bar. Your movie has made me think about all of these variables from my own childhood --and I am still decompressing. This is the element makes White Dog such a great movie.
I have read a lot about this movie. Heard it was even based on a true story. The truth is, you will be watching a fictionalized account by the writer (Roman Gary) and his own wife's experience with a stray Alabama police dog trained to attack black people on site. Welcome to the 1960's.
Having seen this for myself, I now believe the opinions came from people that have never actually enjoyed the whole movie from their own comfortable perspective.
I Loved it. Please, Don't Shoot Me!
That said, White Dog, based on a true story, is one film in a long line of Fuller's work throughout his career that have dealt with the issues of racism. The title dog is a white German Shepherd that is accidentally struck while on a dark road by a car driven by a young actress played by Krtisty McNichol (Eight is Enough). She takes the dog to a local vet then brings it home to heal while she posts signs in the neighborhood looking for its owner. The next night, an intruder, a white man, breaks into McNichol’s home and the dog rushes to her rescue, dramatically breaking through a glass window in slow motion - when it actually meant something back then - to subdue the perp, holding him until the police arrive. After the incident, the dog and McNichol lovingly bond and she brings the dog to the studio for an acting gig she has. While the dog rests peacefully on the studio floor, McNichol's acting partner, a young black woman, begins to speak her lines which wakes the dog from its slumber. The dog jumps up and viciously attacks the black actress. McNichol soon discovers that this dog is a white dog, a dog purposely trained to attack black people. Enter Paul Winfield, a black man who is an animal trainer for films.Read more ›
This film was made for Paramount Studios in 1984, but they never gave it a theatrical release. The plot, about a stray dog taken in by Kristy MacNichol that is a "white dog", a dog trained to kill and maim black people, was considered too hot for them, and the film ended up being a legendary, unseen work. It ended up being the final film of the great Sam Fuller (who directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Curtis Hanson, the director of L.A. Confidential). Is the film great, or is it a disappointment? Well...
The film is mixed. When it works, it's very, very good, and when it doesn't, it's slightly embarrassing (which may have been another reason why Paramount didn't release it in the States). It's never cringe inducing or creaky, but there are notable flaws here. There is bad dialogue (some of which sounds dubbed in, and it's bad dubbing), overacting, some bad camera moves, sledgehammer music cues (especially during an early attack scene), and boring, arbitary secondary characters (Kristy MacNichol's boyfriend and a policeman, for example). The first third of the film is a bit dull. But when Paul Winfield enters the film (he's the trainer that attempts to cure the white dog of its racism), the film is much better. Winfield is great here, playing an entirely believable, passionate person who really wants to cure the dog of its hatred of black people. There are some powerful moments, like when Kristy goes to the pound to look for her dog. We see in long shot a dog placed in a chamber that puts him to sleep.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Spoiler alerts: As soon as the dog is cured of his racism against black people, we find out he's racist against fat people! This dog has layers and layers of issues, doesn't he? Read morePublished 1 month ago by MR
The film is a little dated but the premise is very much still relevant. Excellent film for students.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
This story was fascinating, from beginning to end.
This was a true story, and I am always looking for a good true story.
And I love Kristy McNichol. Read more
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