TRAINED TO KILL
Despite all of this, White Dog remains an efficient but unsatisfactory thriller. It is directed by the legendary Sam Fuller, renowned for his gritty crime thrillers and war films, including the likes of Underworld USA (1961), Shock Corridor (1964) and The Big Red One (1980). However, Fuller, who was working on a tight budget and schedule, directs without much of his customary flair. Scenes have an odd patchiness of rhythm with Fuller seemingly unable to sustain mood from one shot to the next. The actual dog attacks are so choppily edited it is difficult to make out what is going on.
As a thriller, it is a fleshless story the characters are thin, the dialogue often rudimentary. For a story that found its fame on such outraged subject matter, it lacks the wheels to take its premise anywhere beyond the basic set-up of the situation. The plot is all concentrated on dramatics such as the efforts to break the dogs conditioning and artificial suspense sustainers like its escape, whereas the more interesting question of who conditioned the dog in the first place is left unanswered. It also comes with far too downbeat an ending. The films one plus is an entrancingly vulnerable performance from woman-child Kristy MacNichol.
The script was co-written by Curtis Hanson, later the director of film such as Bad Influence (1989), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), L.A. Confidential (1997), Wonder Boys (2000) and 8 Mile (2002).