"Rin Tin Tin Joins the Klan"
February 16, 2010 4:45 PM   Subscribe

The theatrical release of White Dog (directed by Samuel Fuller) was supressed by Paramount in 1981 over concerns that the film would be interpreted as racist, although Fuller intended the movie as a denunciation of racism. It was only released in 2008 by The Criterion Collection on DVD. The film features Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives, and Paul Winfield as the black trainer determined to reform the killer dog. The score by Ennio Morricone (improbably released as a double album with Morricone's score for the 1981 designer jeans comedy So Fine) is unsettling yet sublime.
posted by benzenedream (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My incredibly awesome creative writing instructor showed this to us when I was in high school (really old bootleg) and I was blown away by it. I really, really love Fuller. I recommend that everyone read his remarkable memoir, A Third Face.
posted by brundlefly at 4:52 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

It was only released in 2008 by The Criterion Collection on DVD.

That's impossible because it was on tv way before 2008. Anyway, White Dog is awesome. It's completely ridiculous. I always assumed it was just a crappy horror movie, not a statement against racism.
posted by nooneyouknow at 4:59 PM on February 16, 2010

I guess context is everything because this post is shocking me. I watched WHITE DOG when I was in middle school and would rush home everyday to catch the last 15 minutes of MOONLIGHTING, a talk show called ATTITUDES and finally the Lifetime Afternoon Movie - which, sometimes, was WHITE DOG. Other times it was THE MAYFLOWER MADAM - or, my favorite, the one about Gloria Steinem going undercover as a playboy bunny. Basically they showed a made for tv movie every day at four, and I felt like WHITE DOG was the dumbest of the bunch. I mean, it's about a racist dog!
posted by moxiedoll at 5:00 PM on February 16, 2010

You forgot the part about how the project languished for months after its scheduled director, Roman Polanski, decided to leave the states for a while because of that thing he did.

I saw it on TV back in '95 or so. I thought it was a bit heavy-handed. Also, since I only knew Kristy McNichol from her work on Empty Nest, I had a hard time trying not to think of Dreyfuss in the starring role.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:00 PM on February 16, 2010

Sam Fuller is an amazing character himself. His voice is enthralling. It has the gravelly-growl similar to William Burroughs, with a whip-smart 30's newspaper reporter thrown in(which he was).

I'd recommend this doc as a good starting point. It covers his life as a newspaperman, soldier, and filmmaker. Tim Robbins and Quentin Tarantino raid his old house, untouched since he left America after the rejection of White Dog, and just poke around the house in awe of him.

The focus on everyone speaking a Mid-Atlantic accent in the US over the last 60 years has almost killed off great sounding accents. And that's a damn shame.
posted by chambers at 5:07 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I favorited this so hard my finger hurt.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:09 PM on February 16, 2010

Dude, Burl Ives. Burl Ives. Best name ever, and oh yeah, have a holly jolly Christmas, it's the best time of the year.
posted by fixedgear at 5:13 PM on February 16, 2010

"Film is like a battleground. There's love, hate, action, violence, death... in one word: emotion."

~ Fuller in Pierrot le fou
posted by brundlefly at 5:18 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Racist dog.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:38 PM on February 16, 2010

Wow. Very surprised that this was ever the Lifetime afternoon movie. We had the book in the house when I was growing up and I remember hearing from my Dad that the movie was simply not shown.
posted by BigSky at 5:41 PM on February 16, 2010

Any Fuller fans out there who happen to be in the NYC/Long Island area can join gonadostat and me at the art cinema in Huntington, L.I., for a screening of Fuller's great and still-unsettling film The Naked Kiss, to be introduced and discussed by an old friend of mine who also wrote a very good book on Fuller's films.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:42 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

What's that thing where you are instantly and jarringly transported to the dusty video store of your youth? That's what happened when I read the mention of So Fine. We need a name for that.
posted by activitystory at 5:58 PM on February 16, 2010

White Dog, was, of course, the inspiration for a very special King of the Hill episode.
posted by box at 6:05 PM on February 16, 2010

Here's what I wrote on metachat about the movie:

Sour cream...love it!

Oh no, the dog's gonna attack the little kid! Oh, wait, no he's not.
Oh no, the dog's gonna attack Paul Winfield! Oh, wait, no he's not.
Oh no, the dog's gonna attack Kristy McNichol! Oh, wait, no he's not.
Oh no, the dog's gonna attack Burl Ives! Oh, that time, he did.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:13 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I thought that Kristy McNichol link where she's chewing the guy out was pretty awesome. Here's where I admit I had a crush on her when I was about 12, I wasn't sure why at the time, oh lord I can't believe I'm typing this and may even hit "post," how do you make the print really really small in your comments?

Samuel Fuller was great, Pickup on South Street and Shock Corridor are only two of his many fine films!!!
posted by marxchivist at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2010

I love this movie. The blog post at fourfour about it is so much fun.
posted by hermitosis at 7:55 PM on February 16, 2010

Came here to mention a great doco I saw with Fuller and Tarantino. Without clicking on the link, chambers, I guess that's it. He was indeed "in awe."

He was also in awe of John Travolta’s acting ability, particularly in the movie Blow Out. But I can't remember if it was the same doco! When Quentin's in awe of somebody, it's hard not to take notice.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:17 PM on February 16, 2010

Saw this movie once and did not like it. However, the scene where the dude rants against R2-D2 and how special effects are killing the movies was very funny.
posted by meadowlark lime at 8:21 PM on February 16, 2010

Samuel Fuller wrote and directed The Big Red One. Still one of the best war films of the 80s.

Johnson: Would you look at how fast they put the names of all our guys who got killed?
The Sergeant: That's a World War One memorial.
Johnson: But the names are the same.
The Sergeant: They always are.

posted by Ber at 7:29 AM on February 17, 2010

I always assumed this was the inspiration for Brian's occasional knee-jerk racism on Family Guy.
posted by ErikaB at 11:15 AM on February 17, 2010

Never saw the movie, but read the book. It was pretty unique in its day.
posted by bonefish at 3:42 PM on February 17, 2010

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