Friday, March 13, 2015

White Dog

White Dog (1982)
Directed by: Samuel Fuller
Written by: Romain Gary (story), Samuel Fuller, Curtis Hanson (screenplay)
Starring: Kristy McNichol, Paul Winfield, Burl Ives
Review by "Machine Gun" Kristin

"White Dog" is about a mysterious German Shepard that struggling actress (with an amazing house), Julie (Kristy McNichol) accidentally hits with her car one dark night on a hill in Los Angeles. After rescuing him, by taking him to the emergency vet, she tries to find the dog's owner by posting flyers with her screenwriter boyfriend (Jameson Parker). She soon discovers though that the dog has a horrible behavior trait; he attacks black people.

Do the math!

 Julie seeks help for this by taking her dog to a trainer at Caruthers (Burl Ives) And Keys' "Noah's Ark" Zoo. Keys (Paul Winfield, who was also awesome in "Serpent And The Rainbow") attempts at reprogramming the dog after a fellow worker discovers upon an attack that this is a "white dog". A "white dog" is an attack dog solely trained by white racists to kill black people. It's an insane concept and racism is a super touchy subject with people. I'm sure this lent a hand in this film's obscurity despite it's famous cast. The NAACP were heavily against the film, which lead to boycotting. 

Mmm chocolate snasages 

Burl Ives hates RD2D!

I thought the dog, while huge, was so cute but he was also believable as an attack dog. There were many very tense scenes where you didn't know if the dog was going to jump at any minute. I sometimes feel that way around dogs, or really animals in general. They're not human, so no matter how friendly they may appear, there could be something else lurking around in their mind that is unjust. This is even dealt with in this movie, when Carruthers explains about a friend whose dog suddenly attacked him after years of bonding. A good example of this animal inner dialogue is weird French film, "Baxter", which is about a dog that kills people as well, although not racially influenced. 
Baxter? He's my French Nazi cousin!

Nobody can get Holly Jolly Christmas out of their head Nobody!

 "White Dog" presents a whole weird new perspective on racism that I haven't really seen before. It sorta creeps up on you in this film. Keys is attempting at undoing this misguided hate by breaking down this dog's one dimensional hatred against skin color. He does succeed in some form, but not 100% which is a real hard pill to swallow since it mirrors societies inability to not judge one another based on something not chosen. Prejudice is pure ignorance. I personally find it hard to believe that such a thing as racism still exists after all these years. I'm sure things are better now, (at least I sure hope so), but in 1982 when this film was made, there may have been more unfortunate racial tension. 

 "White Dog" to dedicated to the original story writer (first in "Life" magazine, then a novel), Romain Gary. He's probably best known for the novel "Lady L", which was also adapted into a film in 1965. 

Samuel Fuller and Curtis Hanson adapted this story. Hanson directed horrible sex comedy "Losin' It" which I love, "The Children Of Times Square" made for TV movie (which is on Netflix), "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (which I saw in the theater with my mom) and one of the worst movies of all time, "Wonder Boys". "Wonder.." I wrote a hilarious movie review on for my 10th grade film class. I think I got a C. haha. Fuller is probably best known for "Naked Kiss" and "Shock Corridor" and has a pretty lengthy career.  Watch an interview with him here about "White Dog". 

There's a few great cameos (at least to me) in "Dog". Paul Bartel ("Eating Raoul", "Rock'n'Roll High School) is a camerman on Julie's ill-fated commercial shoot and Dick Miller (veteran character actor in millions of films) is shown at the zoo with a monkey. Fuller is listed in the credits as someone named "Charlie Felton", but I couldn't seem to locate him.

Fancy-schmancy, hit or miss, DVD/Blu-Ray company, Criterion thankfully released "White Dog" and it's available for purchase in their catalog. I appreciate the risks they take with releasing films such as this one, as well as unwatchable ones like as "Salo". 

I recently watch "Cat People" which reminded me a little bit of "White Dog". I think it just because they're both from 1982, involve zoos, cute central female characters and killer animals.

Watch the trailer:

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