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White Dog


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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)
  • ASIN: B001GCATWA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,976 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 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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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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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Moodywoody TOP 500 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 Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
THIS DOG STILL BITES! Nov. 25 2008
By Robin Simmons - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 8 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 Amazon.com
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A highly controversial film Feb. 8 2009
By Ted - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film

White Dog is one of the most controversial films of the 1980's and was suppressed due to it's controversy.

The film, loosely based on a true story is about an actress who adopts a stray dog and later discovers that the dog had been trained by to attack and kill black people. African-American actor, Paul Winfield, plays the role of an animal trainer who attempts to rehabilitate the dog.

The film follows both the case of a real actress who this happened to and to the real incidents in the South where racists trained dogs to do such horrific acts.

The film also stars Burl Ives in one of his few film roles.

I liked the film and saw it as a message on how racism is taught, and not inherent. The film was misunderstood and not widely released and this edition is it premiere on home video.

The DVD includes an interview with director Sam Fuller's widow, Christa Lang-Fuller, the film's producer Jon Davison, co-writer Curtis Hanson, and dog trainer, Karl Lewis-Miller. The DVD also includes behind the scenes photographs.

This is a film you won't soon forget.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
fascinating incorrect film Feb. 14 2008
By Carlos Vazquez Quintana - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This film is superb and I think little known as politically incorrect. Policy today, and ever at times of making this movie, wants to show all things in life, even the bad ones, have a solution, and a reasonable one, generally.
But Sam Fuller is wise and I think very experienced and his best and perhaps less commercial films, he show us there are good things in life, but there are also bad facets, and some have no solution. Not one humane solution at less, and simply you can convert a tiger in a sheep.
This is the case in this movie, with the real problem of racism at bottom. Racism is considered a vice to eradicate in mankind, but this "White Dog" show us in a very believable way there are things out of our capacity.
The plot is: a young white girl is fiercely defended from a intent of rape by a strong attack dog. The girl cares grateful of these apparently abandoned dog, a magnificent obedient animal. But one day there appear a black person and the dog attacks furiously. The girl is astonished as the incident repeats. She consults with some experts in animals who train them for circus, etc. The diagnostic is clear: the dog is a "White Dog", this is, a dog trained viciously for a cruel master to hate, attack and kill to black people. The main expert affirms from the beginning there are no cure for such criminal dogs, but a black employee wants to try and extirpate racism from the dog's brain.
That attempt has to cost interminable training sessions in a jail with protection against the fierce attacks of the dog, but when all seems useless, the dog finish in an apparent appeasement and ceases in attacking the black man.
The big deception is from there, the dog attacks white people; his racism is the same, only has changed the objective. Fascinating, magnificent film.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
[Revised Title] Criterion #455 *WHITE DOG* December 2008 Release! Aug. 26 2007
By Barry M. Pattengill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
* ADDENDUM * 10-16-2008:
=====================
Well, better late than never!!! Criterion is FINALLY releasing White Dog December 2008!!! Not in Blu-ray but that's okay, this will be the best release ever available in any format to date. Highest Recommendation!

* ADDENDUM * 08-28-2007:
=====================
Well, apparently Televista releases mostly VHS quality rips without any thought to quality, so this release of White Dog may turn out to be a real dog after all. Too bad. I'd change my rating but it doesn't appear to be an option.

Hopefully Criterion will release White Dog soon.

* Original review * 08-26-2007:
========================
DISCLAIMER: I don't believe in rating an item that hasn't even been released yet, but since Amazon insists on a rating before allowing a post and since several people to date have already rated it ONE STAR without actually seeing the product, I can only in all fairness give it FIVE STARS in an attempt to balance out the inequity at play.

Why does the Televista release of White Dog get slammed (before it's even released) and not the only other version currently listed on Amazon - which does seem to be a bootleg (search on 'white dog' to see it) and has 5 stars based on 1 review from the vendor themselves.

The Televista is advertised as uncut but the 1.33:1 aspect ratio disturbs me a little since the film was 1.85:1. At any rate, I haven't seen any *official* word from Criteria as to a release date for White Dog, and the last thing I did see was the following response by them to a member of the Criterion forum: "We do hope to get to 'White Dog' at some point, but there isn't a release date scheduled at this time."

Searching the Internet on 'Televista' reveals a checkered past with several hits and misses, but it seems legit and then searching on 'White Dog' and 'Televista' together gets a lot of hits of the title currently being available for pre-order on *many* reputable sites in addition to Amazon. I'd say the Televista should be worth a rental, at least, and that Criterion should jump on releasing White Dog ASAP given the Samuel Fuller 'revival' and all the great Fuller releases that have been coming out lately.


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