Good to know. I think I'll see it when I have the chance.
275. White Dog [B+]
276. Ladies’ Night in a Turkish Bath [C]
WHITE DOG: Often cited as an unheralded masterpiece by director Sam Fuller, I don't think the film quite manages to reach that level, but it is pretty close. WHITE DOG features a number of strong performances, including an excellent turn by Paul Winfield (STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, THE TERMINATOR), as well as what is probably the best performance by an animal (okay, technically, there were four dogs who played the role) that’s ever been on-screen. Unjustly attacked by the NAACP on charges of racism when it made (and barely released), the film is actually virulently anti-racist (to the point where I’m just dumbfounded by the NAACP’s ruling, which probably was a result of Fuller not allowing them on set rather than a legitimate response to the film itself).
The film is about an actress who hits a dog while she is out driving one night. She rushes the dog to the vet and, when nobody calls to claim it, takes it as her own. Unfortunately, as she tragically discovers, the dog has been trained as a “white dog,” or a dog trained to attack people with dark skin. She takes the dog to an animal trainer (Paul Winfield) who becomes obsessed with reconditioning the dog. In the end, however, he fails. The dog escapes once and kills a man (or in the theatrical version, injures him, which doesn’t make any sense) and the reconditioning doesn’t take. It makes for a tragic, but inevitable conclusion. My main problem with the film stems from the look—certain scenes are so pink that you would think the print had started to fade, but, no, that’s just the 1980s look that Fuller was going for. That dates the film a little, though it is otherwise pretty timeless.
LADIES’ NIGHT AT A TURKISH BATH: An unremarkable (if rare) silent film, I don’t have much to say about this one. It was fun (as always) to see silent cinema with live accompaniment, though. If you’ve never had that experience, take advantage of it if the opportunity presents itself.