Tuesday, February 20, 2007

WHITE DOG DAY. Yes, today there will be screenings of a new print of Samuel Fuller's suppressed movie White Dog at The Film Forum (1:00, 5:10, 10:20).

The story of White Dog is one of the strangest in U.S. movie history. Based on writings of Romain Gary excerpted in the October 9, 1970 Life, the plot revolves around the disgusting practice of training dogs to attack black people. As a movie concept, the story floated around Hollywood for years before B-movie master Samuel Fuller finally made it into a movie in 1982.

Fuller had previously portrayed the impact of racial hatred in such films as The Crimson Kimono (1959) and Shock Corridor (1963), yet even though White Dog was consistent with his fundamentally humane (albeit provocative) style, wild rumors of racism somehow spun out of control, leading Paramount to shelve the film and keep it away from U.S. (but not European) audiences for more than twenty years with very rare exceptions.

White Dog is still not legally available on video in this country, though I remain optimistic that sanity will ultimately prevail. (I take today's screening of a new print as a positive sign.) It is a good, quirky, gutsy, and acclaimed film that portrays the sickness and ugliness of racism through imagery as well as the twists and turns of its storyline.

If you can make it to the Film Forum, you can judge for yourself. Fuller co-wrote the screenplay with Curtis Hanson. Ennio Morricone wrote the music. The cast includes Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives, Paul Winfield, cult actor Dick Miller, and Fuller, his wife Christa, and their daughter Samantha.

No comments: