Disney’s workmanlike remake of Jack London’s adventure White Fang boasts enough nature footage and a strong central performance by Ethan Hawke to win over small fry.
20th Century-Fox first filmed the book in 1936 as a programmer followup to its London-derived hit Call of the Wild, notable for John Carradine’s performance as the villain. Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci directed an excellent remake in 1973 toplining Franco Nero and Virna Lisi.
Hawke plays a would-be prospector who heads to the Alaska gold rush just before the turn of the century to find and work his late father’s claim. After a scenic, ‘cast of 100s’ climb up a mountain, Hawke teams up with veteran miner Klaus Maria Brandauer and his Gabby Hayes-esque sidekick Seymour Cassel to trek across the snow.
Hampered by a choppy screenplay that reduces earthy star Brandauer’s dialog to near Pidgin English, pic never adds up to more than a series of individual moments. The majestic beauty of Tony Pierce-Roberts’ cinematography and Basil Poledouris’ score are highlights.