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Film / White Dog

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White Dog is a 1982 drama film directed by Samuel Fuller and starring Kristy McNichol and Paul Winfield. Julie Sawyer (McNichol), a young actress, takes in an all-white German Shepherd that she accidentally hit with her car, only to discover that he is a "white dog" — a dog trained to viciously attack black people. Rather than euthanize him, Julie enlists the black animal trainer Keys (Winfield) to try to undo the dog's training.

Not to be confused with White God, another film centering on a dog.

White Dog contains examples of:

  • As Herself: Martine Dawson, who works at the animal sanctuary where the training scenes were filmed, makes a brief appearance in which she gives Julie directions while petting a lion.
  • Attempted Rape: Shortly after Julie takes in the dog, a man breaks into her house and attempts to rape her. The dog fights him off.
  • Berserk Button: The dog is calm, friendly, and well-behaved, until he sees a black person.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Keys' coworker Carruthers plays darts with a cutout of R2D2 because he fears the special effects industry will put him out of work.
  • Downer Ending: Keys' training, for all the hope he placed in it, didn't get rid of the dog's murderous impulses, he just changed them so the dog targets white people instead. The film ends with Keys angrily stumbling away from the dog he had to put down instantly once he killed his first white man, and Julie standing there in shock.
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  • Driving a Desk: Julie plays a small role in a movie that involves sitting in a gondola while footage of the canals of Venice plays on a screen behind her.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: The dog manages to chew through his wire cage and runs off into the city. By the time Keys finds him, he's chased a black man into a church and killed him.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Despite being a struggling actress who mostly gets bit parts, Julie lives in a large house in the hills with a beautiful view.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: As the dog kills his first victim, the camera pans across the walls of the church while the man screams.
  • Hope Spot: After a very long Training Montage, Keys apparently was able to get the dog to adapt and doesn't attack black people. But then a white man enters the training area and the dog tears him apart. Turns out that now the dog attacks white people instead. Keys has to shoot the poor beast.
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  • Instant Sedation: When Keys shoots the dog with a tranquilizer dart, he collapses immediately.
  • Super Window Jump: The dog jumps from a second-story window, complete with Soft Glass, in order to tackle Julie's attacker.