jungle cruise (jaume collet-serra, 2021)
christine (antonio campos, 2016)

white dog (samuel fuller, 1982)

This is the twelfth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2023-24", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 9th annual challenge, and my fifth time participating (previous years can be found at "2019-20", "2020-21", "2021-22", and "2022-23"). Week 12 is called "Career Killers Week":

The flop. The bomb. We know them well. They are legendary. Those films that, whether misguided, ill-advised, cursed, or just plain crap, live on in infamy as cautionary tales. Often, they come after a commercial (and critical) success, when money falls like rain, and sound decision-making takes shelter so as not to get wet. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad feature to poison a career or even put a studio out of business. The big question is: are all career killers deserving of their label?

This week, we'll resurrect (if only for a couple of hours) a career or studio by watching a film from Babalugats' Career Killers list. It's up to you to decide if these films deserve their ignominious place in cinema history.

I'll let the IMDB tell the story, or at least part of it:

The major reason the release of this film was buried by Paramount was due to the criticism by the NAACP, stating the film was trying to push a racist message across in its depictions of the dog's actions while the film was in pre-production. Once a release date was set, the NAACP then threatened Paramount with boycotts, which soon scared off executives largely due to the film's subject matter. The film was then limited to a series of limited screenings throughout 1982 in cities such as Seattle, Denver and Detroit, after which Paramount finally aborted its release in the U.S. and shelved the film soon afterward. Paramount then tried to bury it and denied its existence for over 25 years.

Samuel Fuller had been directing movies for more than 30 years. After White Dog, he moved to France and didn't make any more American films.

The source for the film was an autobiographical novel by Romain Gary that told the true story of he and his wife Jean Seberg adopt a dog, only to gradually learn that it had been trained to attack black people. The film version is slightly different from the novel, but the essence remains: an attack dog that has been trained to be racist. It's more believable than it sounds (and it is based on fact), but unfortunately given the nature of the film, it seems kind of silly. Paul Winfield tries mightily to bring life to a dog trainer intent to removing the racism from the dog, and Fuller is himself quite serious about all of this, but it's not a very good movie. I suspect if it weren't for the controversy, it would be little remembered today. That Fuller became a cult figure for the entire body of his work means everything he did has been reconsidered, and rightly so, although I think he has gone from being underrated to overrated. I'm partial to his Pickup on South Street and Shock Corridor. Bonus points for the cast of White Dog, including Kristy McNichol as the young actress who adopts the dog, and immortal greats like Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, and Parley Baer in cameos.


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