Wednesday, September 17, 2008

White Dog, Black Dog, and the Criterion Collection

When I was a teenager, I remember seeing, on pay TV, what I remember as being a touching, provocative film. It was called White Dog. (That link is to an informative Wikipedia article, btw). Its about a young woman (Kirsty McNichol) who adopts a stray dog, only to discover that it has been trained to attack black people. Paul Winfield plays a black dog trainer who tries to break the dog of its conditioning. It was, I thought, an interesting way of getting at the issue of ingrained racism in a culture; at the time, it meant nothing to me that the director was Samuel Fuller. I forgot about the film for years until, walking through the old location of Black Dog video - the one that would later be badly damaged in fire - I saw a VHS edition of the "uncut version" of the film, which I never knew had been censored for release.

Alas, this VHS tape, like most of Black Dog's VHS stock, was apparently destroyed when the store burned - more by smoke and heat than flames (that was what I was told by someone behind the counter, anyhow). I thought it was a shame - since the film, as Fuller envisioned it, was otherwise unseeable. I always regretted not having rented it.

Anyhow, this is just a note for cinephiles who might care about White Dog: good news! The Criterion Collection has picked it up!

1 comment:

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

This is an odd Fuller film, feels like a TV movie what with Jimmy McNicholl's more masculine sis and the presence of Burl Ives!Yet he unflinchingly deals with taboo subject matter. I highly recommend readin g his auto-bio if you get the chance!