White Dog

When man’s best friend becomes his fiercest enemy
When man’s best friend becomes his fiercest enemy

D: Samuel Fuller

Paramount (Jon Davison)

US 🇺🇸 1982

90 mins


W: Samuel Fuller & Curtis Hanson [based on the novel “Chien Blanc” by Romain Gary]

DP: Bruce Surtees

Ed: Bernard Gribble

Mus: Ennio Morricone

Kristy McNichol (Julie Sawyer), Paul Winfield (Keys), Burl Ives (Carruthers), Jameson Parker (Roland Grale), Parley Baer (Wilber Hull)

Hugely controversial at the time of release, so much so that the production studio and distributor, Paramount, pulled the plug on widespread release, mostly due to the themes of the film being misunderstood.

Kristy McNichol plays an aspiring actress who comes into the possession of a stray German Shepherd dog. Awaiting the real owners to come forward, the dog protects her from a home invasion and she develops a bond with it, later realising that the dog had been trained to attack people of colour.

She takes the animal to a training centre, where a black animal trainer tries to recondition the dog.

The story has roots in truth, based on the semi-autobiographical French novel by Romain Gary, and reveals many unpleasantries about racism in America. Though it’s not technically a horror, it’s Samuel Fuller’s B-movie approach to the material as well as several scenes of tension and violence, it does very much touch on that genre.

The tone of the film does switch halfway through, with all the subplots built up in the first act dropped to concentrate on the re-training of the dog.  Kristy McNichol does fine with the character she’s given, but the best performances in the movie belong to Paul Winfield as the ambitious trainer and the white dog itself, portrayed by several German Shepherds.

Personally, I think it was a very brave subject to tackle, particularly in the early 1980’s, with a general message that once racism is learned, it’s practically impossible to rid.


White Dog
White Dog