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The Klondike, time of the goldrush: The Indian Charlie (Daniel Martín)
and his son Mitsah (Missaele) find a young dog/wolf halfbreed they call
White Fang and which Mitsah befrieds pretty fast - much to the dismay of
his father who thinks White Fang is dangerous. It is only when White Fang saves Mitsah from drowning that Charlie rethinks his point of view.
However, the whole drowning experience (in the icey Alaskan waters no
less) has left Mitsah in fever, so his dad has to bring him to Dawson
City, a town full of cutthroats, for a Doctor ...
In Dawson City, Beauty Smith (John Steiner), the law of Dawson City,
the richest man in town and the biggest cutthroat, takes an
interest in White Fang, but when Charlie refuses to sell him, Smith has
his men kill Charlie and snatch the dog ...
From here on, the good guys - journalist Jason Scott (Franco Nero) and
gouvernment official Kurt Jansen (Raimund Harmstorf) - take things in
Dawson City into their hands, befirend Mitsah, the nun Sister Evangelina
(Virna Lisi) who looks after the boy, the flawed but good-natured priest
Father Oatley (Fernando Rey) and the dancehall girl Krista (Carole
André), who is really the priest's daughter but who has caught the eye of
Smith. And before you know it, Scott and Jansen openly challenge Smith and
save White Fang, whom Smith has set up to fight a bear - to collect a
fortune in betting money from Dawson City's poor citizens. (Later, White Fang
will pay back the favour by saving Scott's life.)
After much to and fro, Smith and his right-hand man Hall (Rik
Battaglia) learn that a new goldrush has broken out in Nome, and they
prepare to leave town before the golddiggers who have entrusted their gold
with Smith find that out as well and will want to be payed out before
leaving for Nome.
However, when Smith and Hall desperately try to persuade Krista
to leave Dawson City with them and kill her in the process, her father
witnesses the whole scene and now tells everybody about the gold in Nome -
and soon enough, Smith and Hall are hunted by the entire populace, and
when they have nowhere left to go, they take cover at a local dam which
they threaten to blow up, to take the whole lynchmob after them to hell
with them ... which is when White Fang attacks and takes care of Smith
and Hall - before the dam blows up anyhow - but miraculously enough all
the good guys survive and a rather schmaltzy ending sees White Fang - who
should have been killed in the blast - and Mitsah reunited ...
First off I have to admit I'm not a big fan of films with dogs, nor do
I like kids in movies too much, especially when they have dogs, but even
setting my own preferences aside for the time being, Zanna Bianca
is still less than a good film, the directorial effort of director Lucio
Fulci (still a few years away from his zombie epics but a veteran director
even then) is just too lazy to impress. Many of the action setpieces -
especially the finale with the blown up dam - are done in such an
underwhelming manner that one is really tempted top lose interest in the
onscreen goings-on and can't help but wonder why tehy even bothered
- and for once, the scenes don't suck for lack of budget (after all, the
dam is blown up alright) but simply lack of effort. Now I'm not
saying that I myself would have liked the film much more with better
action, but it would have been nice if they would have at least tried ...