Revisiting ‘White Fang’, Disney’s Mostly-Forgotten “Boy and His Dog” Adventure Movie Starring a Young Ethan Hawke
Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2020 by Josh Spiegel
(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)
Walt Disney was famously not a cat person, which is as important to note as the fact that he liked dogs. Think of how cats are portrayed in some of the films released by his animation studio. Think of the sneaky Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp; even if they weren’t racist by literal design, they’re cruel to our heroic Lady and try to destroy the house while pinning the crime on her. Or think of the cat owned by Cinderella’s stepmother. You know, the cat literally named Lucifer. Disney: not a cat person.
Thus, once the era of Disney live-action films dawned, one of the natural types of stories to tell would be between man and his true best friend, the dog. (It’s a heartbreaking movie, but Old Yeller remains one of the most memorable Disney live-action films they ever released.) Even years after Walt Disney died, this basic concept would lead to plenty of live-action films. Just recently, the streaming service Disney+ released another man-and-dog movie, Togo, in which a gruff man living in Alaska learns to embrace a particularly ornery Siberian husky. That film, both in its setting and its depiction of the burgeoning friendship between one man (played by an overqualified lead actor) and one dog, feels like it owes a debt to another such Disney film: the 1991 drama White Fang.