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Monday, January 18, 2010

WHITE DOG (1982)

Sam Fuller’s final Hollywood pic was unfairly tagged as ‘race bait’ material and never got a proper Stateside release. The charge was ridiculous, but the studio may simply have used the controversy as ‘cover’ for commercial considerations. If anything, the story of a white German Shepard trained to attack Blacks plays out an anti-racist scenario that’s too didactic. At least, in the script as put together by Fuller and a deferential Curtis Hanson. Kristy McNichol plays the young actress who rescues the traumatized dog and Paul Winfield is the trainer who thinks he can ‘cure’ the beast. But Fuller’s anxiety-ridden dramatics can’t register when all the characters have to play dense just to keep the plot moving. At his best, Fuller was defiantly blunt, but now his filmmaking instincts have calcified so that his effects don’t quite come into focus. Even the great Ennio Morricone can’t figure out what sort of a musical score he’s supposed to deliver. The film is neither fish nor fowl . . . maybe it’s a dog?

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