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White Dog

4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kristy McNichol, Christa Lang, Vernon Weddle, Jameson Parker, Karl Lewis Miller
  • Directors: Samuel Fuller
  • Writers: Samuel Fuller, Curtis Hanson, Romain Gary
  • Producers: Edgar J. Scherick, Jon Davison, Nick Vanoff, Richard Hashimoto
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Dec 2 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,728 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description


Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
This film will leave one thinking for a long time. And possibly alter how one looks at people in their own community and abroad as well. Much like the Kristy McNichol character, I too was skeptical of how a dog could discriminate so. But to hear it explained by Paul Winfield to her, it gave me a sick realization the plausibility and actuality that such a premise could and/or does happen to this day. I was troubled after the black people gets mauled to death, and nothing more was said about it in the movie. IE; a recurring TV in the background about the police investigations and background of the victims. Yet, the way the Burl Ives character puts it - the remorse is felt by all. And all are complicit. But the focus is on the retraining and eradication of this horrendous conditioning. And not to give the ending away, but the bonus material states 'the dog went insane' at the end. I came away, and still believe differently to that. The dog had remorse as well, and cited the figure that was resembling his up bringing. Another viewer may think differently as well. All in all, there's no real heroes or closure at the end. But a better understanding, empathy, and disgust for all characters, and the viewers themselves. To take the inherent savagery from one species of animal, and instill a more subservient viciousness on a tamer species is what we all do everyday. Take a chihuahua by a junk yard or a zoo, and you'll see what I mean. And all for our vane comfort, love, and protection.
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By Paul Woods on May 29 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Movie seems like an old made for T.V. film. Good film for it's time. If it is a true story (It says it is on the case), it's hard to believe someone would train a dog to attack someone for there skin color.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a straight blurry VHS-to-DVD copy of what was once a nearly impossible to find film directed by Sam Fuller. The transfer is shabby! Watch the superior Criterion transfer instead.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Moodywoody TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Nov. 11 2010
Format: DVD
You have to hand it to the eccentric film maker Sam Fuller. Who would have thought to make a film about a racist dog? As bizarre as the premise may be, the film works and proves to be both entertaining and intriguing. The idea that a dog can be trained to attack members of a certain race is disturbing, yet seemingly plausible.

Paul Winfield is absolutely terrific as the animal trainer who loves animals, and makes a gallant effort to try and de-program the white dog that attacks black people. I was disappointed in the casting of Kristy McNichol in the other main role, however, in that I think the film would have been enhanced by a more charismatic actress.

The film starkly makes the point of how absurd racism is when we witness it in an animal that blindly follows its training and its instinct to attack the threat it has been taught to fear, rather than any inherent fear that would be found in nature. The fact that animals do not have the emotional/moral capacity to hate makes it an even greater stark contrast to the irrational hatred of racism that is learned and taught in humans.

There is a powerful scene in which the white dog kills a black man by tearing him to shreds. If one has ever been stalked by a big dog or been around a menacing one, you can appreciate the horror of the scene, and how well it is presented.

A good film to view from one of America's most underrated film writer/directors.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 62 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By Robin Simmons - Published on
Format: DVD
In 1982, Samuel Fuller's "WHITE DOG" created a storm of controversy that resulted in a limited theatrical release with no follow-up video until now.

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).

Paul Winfield dominates the latter half of the film. His performance is focused and intense. I was reminded of a superb dog story in which he starred, 1972's "Sounder."

The great Burl Ives has a small part as the co-owner of "Noah's Ark." It is great to hear that singular voice even if it is only in spoken words.

Director Sam Fuller had a reputation as a tough, cigar-chomping sometimes over-the-top, story-teller. He has been called "the tabloid poet." Fuller did not shy away from controversial issues and in fact helmed other films with racial conflict as a theme. He died in 1997 at the age of 85.

There's a wonderful featurette containing new interviews with producer Jon Davison, co-writer Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") and Fuller's widow Krista Lang.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fuller's next to last film, unseen for 24 years, until now... Jan. 22 2009
By Grigory's Girl - Published on
Format: DVD
This is one of those rarely seen, much talked about, "legendary" films that has never been released on home video, and has been rarely screened. Until now, of course.

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. We don't see the dog pass away (Fuller isn't exploitative), but he shows a close up of the chamber, which is powerful and sad. After that, Kristy becomes determined to cure her dog.

Fuller comes up with some excellent camera work (especially in the cage where the animal is retrained), great performances by the dog (there were five dogs portraying the white dog in the film), some funny humour directed at R2D2 (yes, the Star Wars robot), and a very powerful and memorable ending. Overall, it's a mixed bag, but its positives outweight its negatives. If you like Fuller, you should check this out. It's not perfect, but it's a memorable film. It was silly of Paramount not to release the film, but Criterion has done us all a favour. Not a perfect film, but still a good one.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Get UIP issue DVD! It's the best quality! June 21 2007
By S. Y. Kim - Published on
The troublesome Televista bootleg dvd is totally gone in amazon. Because Televista product is too disappoint to collect. Most of customers(collectors)complain Televista released dvd. But I've seen UIP issue dvd(Made in U.K.)& It's really great. Region Free(ALL)and perfect quality(Cover Art & Disc & Chapters & Screen & Sound). It include Bonus Features(Posters & Lobby Card & STAFF Profile)so it's suitable for collectors. Forget Televista bootleg DVD and get legal UIP product! UIP(United International Pictures). Now, you can purchase it in amazon list!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Dog Bites Man. Keeps Biting. April 20 2015
By H. Caufield - Published on
Verified Purchase
The last American film of Samuel Fuller, White Dog, stands as an analogy of the American culture in what, since the election of President Obama, has been deemed as a post-racial world. And while one would argue the election of a black president is a turning point in our country's and culture’s history, the racial hatred that has risen exponentially since President Obama's election - a good portion of it directed at him - would suggest that our culture has a long, long, long, way to go before we can even hint at it being a post-racial world.

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. McNichol brings the dog to him in the hopes he can reprogram it - himself determined by the challenge to the break the dog of it’s racial attacks. In the meantime the dog escapes its steel kennel and kills an elderly black man in a church. But still Winfield wants to wipe the programmed hate out of the dog this time by making himself the bait. While he succeeds in one aspect the dog’s rage is refocused but it turns on another character forcing Winfield to shoot the dog dead.

Fuller’s subject matter has always been somewhat controversial; and so much so for White Dog, which came out in 1982, that the NAACP at the time thought this film incited racism, which is exactly the opposite of what Fuller was aiming for. According to wikipedia, “Fuller was a staunch integrationist for his hiring of black actors for non-stereotypical roles.” After a limited release the film was shelved by Paramount until 2008 when the Criterion Collection released it on DVD. While somewhat dated in its look, the script by Fuller and Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential), raises legitimate questions on the subject of racism in our county. There is no doubt that race relations have come a long way but have the seeds of racial equality been planted deep enough to grow through a foundation of renewed hate of people of color in our society today? In light of the recent and unprecedented amount of white police officers shooting black people I would say not. And for these police officers, like the dog in the film, the question remains, is racism a curable learned behavior or mental illness that is treatable, or are we hardwired to be racist and maybe there is no cure?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Four-legged time bomb!" Jan. 6 2009
By Cubist - Published on
Format: DVD
White Dog was Samuel Fuller's last Hollywood film and arguably his most controversial. No easy feat from the man who tackled racism with Shock Corridor - Criterion Collection, patriotism with Pickup on South Street (1953), and made deeply profound anti-war films like The Steel Helmet (1951) and Merrill's Marauders (1962). White Dog tells the story of a German shepherd dog trained to attack African Americans.

The DVD is a little light in the extras department but they of high quality.

"Four-Legged Time Bomb" features interviews with co-writer Curtis Hanson, producer Jon Davison, and Fuller's widow Christa. Hanson talks about the first Fuller film he ever saw and how he eventually got to meet the man. Davison describes Fuller's larger-than-life personality, while Krista talks about her husband's approach to film. All three recount the origins and production of White Dog through fascinating and engaging anecdotes.

"Recollections from Karl Lewis Miller" reprints excerpts of an interview with the film's dog trainer. He talks about working with Fuller and his approach to getting natural performances out of the dogs used on the film.

Finally, there is a "Photo Gallery" of on-the-set stills.