Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

White Dog

white dog

Never heard of it, and thus never seen it.

I happened across it as I perused the GreenCine blog, and after reading up on the film, I'm intent on screening it.

The 1982 film is called White Dog, and is described as a "misunderstood, throat-grabbing exposé on American racism." It was written and directed by Samuel Fuller, a name that I'm not at all familiar with. A glance over his IMDB resume revealed a long list of films (none I immediately recognized), dating back to the late 1930s, through the 1990s, until his death in 1997.

Apparently, the film was little-seen, because it was so controversial that it was suppressed by Paramount studio executives, and was never released theatrically in the U.S.

In it, Julie Sawyer (Kristy McNichol) runs over a wandering white dog with her car one night, takes the dog home and then nurses it back to health. Some days later, the mild-mannered dog saves her life by viciously attacking and killing a rapist who breaks into her home. Julie then discovers that the dog has been trained to attack black skin. She consults an animal trainer who urges her to have the dog exterminated. But a maverick African American dog trainer, Keys, played by the late Paul Winfield, who has tried before to break the training of such dogs but never succeeded, steps in to undo the damage that's been done, essentially reprogramming/re-socializing the animal.

Samuel Fuller is said to have been quite the controversial auteur, but this one frightened studio executives so much that they opted to nix it altogether; although it was hailed by critics when it was released in Europe.

Now, the folks at Criterion Collection have re-packaged and re-released the 1982 film on DVD (out today) for new audiences to experience for themselves.

Dennis Lim of the L.A. Times wrote a sound review of the film a couple of days ago, in which he states,

White Dog" came with an intriguing pedigree. It was based on the 1970 book by Romain Gary, a semi-autobiographical novel in which the French author and his wife, actress Jean Seberg, encounter a stray dog that has apparently been programmed to attack black people on sight. Gary's book evolves into a wide-ranging meditation on race relations in this country, drawing on the queasy mood of late-'60s, newly post-civil-rights America and explicitly discussing Seberg's involvement with the Black Panthers.


"White Dog" ranks among the toughest and most probing examinations of racism in American cinema. Fuller's brute-force direction gives this outrageous allegory the hyperbolic treatment it demands.

I'm certainly curious, and I always love being introduced to filmmakers I'd previously never heard of, or even dismissed. You can find it on Amazon, if interested.

Here's a trailer I found on YouTube:


  1. Jaceel said...

    A fellow greenciner. sam fuller.
    The big red one, Shock Corridor, Pick up on south street and the steel helmet. Pronto mister.

  2. The Obenson Report said...

    Thanks! I got my hands on Shock Corridor yesterday actually. Will be watching it this weekend. I'm mos def going to check out his other works.

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