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       The 14 Mar 1988 DV announced a planned “update of the Jack London classic” from Lobell/Bergman productions, although the start date was delayed pending the settlement of a strike by the Writers Guild of America. Four drafts of the screenplay had already been written by Jeanne Rosenberg. The last, with revisions by writer David Fallon, was reportedly being “fed into the computer” when the strike began. A news item in the 22 Jan 1989 LAT stated that filming would begin Apr 1989, with Chris Menges as director. However, on 18 Apr 1989, HR reported that casting was still in process. Menges, who was developing the screenplay for the $7.5 million production, expected principal photography to begin in Feb 1990. The 20 Oct 1989 HR revised the estimated budget to $8-$10 million, $3 million of which would be allocated for “support services” in the state of Alaska. One hundred crew members would likely be needed during peak stages of production. Weeks later, the 26 Nov 1989 LAT announced director Randal Kleiser as Menges’s replacement, and the casting of Jed, a dog owned by trainer Clint Rowe, in the role of “White Fang.” Location filming would take place in and around Haines, Alaska, from Feb to Jul 1990, as stated in the 15 Dec 1989 HR. The 1 Feb 1990 DV reported that executive producer Mike Lobell was currently in Alaska, expecting to begin sixteen weeks of photography in Mar 1990, with a hiatus after the first ten weeks. Production began 26 Feb 1990, as ... More Less

       The 14 Mar 1988 DV announced a planned “update of the Jack London classic” from Lobell/Bergman productions, although the start date was delayed pending the settlement of a strike by the Writers Guild of America. Four drafts of the screenplay had already been written by Jeanne Rosenberg. The last, with revisions by writer David Fallon, was reportedly being “fed into the computer” when the strike began. A news item in the 22 Jan 1989 LAT stated that filming would begin Apr 1989, with Chris Menges as director. However, on 18 Apr 1989, HR reported that casting was still in process. Menges, who was developing the screenplay for the $7.5 million production, expected principal photography to begin in Feb 1990. The 20 Oct 1989 HR revised the estimated budget to $8-$10 million, $3 million of which would be allocated for “support services” in the state of Alaska. One hundred crew members would likely be needed during peak stages of production. Weeks later, the 26 Nov 1989 LAT announced director Randal Kleiser as Menges’s replacement, and the casting of Jed, a dog owned by trainer Clint Rowe, in the role of “White Fang.” Location filming would take place in and around Haines, Alaska, from Feb to Jul 1990, as stated in the 15 Dec 1989 HR. The 1 Feb 1990 DV reported that executive producer Mike Lobell was currently in Alaska, expecting to begin sixteen weeks of photography in Mar 1990, with a hiatus after the first ten weeks. Production began 26 Feb 1990, as noted in the 13 Feb 1990 HR.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Lobell and fellow executive producer Andrew Bergman developed the project over a five-year period. Producer Marykay Powell recounted the hardships of filming in Haines, particularly the sudden change in weather during which the snowfall turned to rain, forcing the crew to seek “locations further north where snow was still plentiful.” When the endeavor failed, the team brought in snow machines to blanket the “Skagway” set, but the day before filming resumed, rain reduced the terrain to “brown mush.” Among the remaining options were artificial snow, which would be ecologically unsound, and dried potato flakes, which the animal actors would likely consume between takes. The crew had no choice but to order truckloads of fresh snow from nearby Canada. Once spring arrived, a river overflowed its banks and washed out the road leading from the set to the main road. Powell also encountered difficulties with the Native American background actors, who were unavailable on their designated fishing days. Although she found them to be exceptionally friendly, they were also “the most independent of people,” and would not revise their schedule to accommodate the production. However, once filming began, Powell praised the natives as the finest background actors she had ever seen. Among the more positive aspects of the production was the filming of the legendary “Chilcoot Pass,” which was re-created on a forty-five degree mountainside, with steps carved in the ground and “safety handlines” to accommodate the actors. With specialists securing the pass to prevent an avalanche, and two helicopters patrolling the area, “the shoot came off smoothly.”
       Following a five-week hiatus, the cast and crew returned to Alaska to film spring sequences. All were issued procedural memos in preparation for the return of the local bear population, which had been hibernating over the winter. Because black bears normally descend on Haines in April, guards were placed on duty around the clock to prevent the animals from invading the set. The producers initially considered shooting in Montana, among other states, but none allowed the importation of wolves. Alaska was the only state that offered appropriate scenery and permitted the animals. Trainer Clint Rowe lamented the fact that his wolves did not have adequate time to acclimate to the actors, because of production delays. According to a statement from the American Humane Association, all scenes involving animal aggression were carefully photographed and edited to create the illusion of violence, while ensuring that no animals were injured. Edward L. Lish, a representative of the society, spent eighteen weeks at the Alaska location, inspecting the animals’ housing facilities and videotaping twenty-two hours of “animal action” before American Humane gave the production its approval.
       Principal photography was completed in Jul 1990, as stated in the 27 Jul 1990 HR.
       Walt Disney Pictures sponsored two preview screenings in Los Angeles, CA, on 12 and 15 Jan 1991, prior to the picture’s 18 Jan 1991 opening in the Northern California cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno. A studio press release heralded it as the first feature-length film made entirely on location in Alaska. Despite lukewarm critical notices, White Fang earned $11.3 million in its first ten days, as reported in the Feb 1991 Box. A review in the 18 Jan 1991 NYT noted that the characters “Jack Conroy” and “Alex Larson” were created for the film and do not appear in the Jack London novel. “Buck,” the canine protagonist of London’s 1903 novel, Call of the Wild, makes a “guest appearance” as a fighting dog.
       The 20 Jun 1991 HR reported that the Mountain States Legal Foundation asked Disney to remove the film’s closing statement concerning wolf attacks, citing two recent incidents, one of which was fatal. Disney executives issued no immediate response.
      Opening credits include the following statement: “All animals in this production were trained with care and concern for their safety and well-being. Scenes which appear to be harmful to them were simulated." End credits include the following statements: “‘Jack London’s White Fang is a work of fiction. There has never been a documented case of a healthy wolf or pack of wolves attacking a human in North America. Because wolves were systematically eliminated throughout most of the United States during our early history and continue to be persecuted today, a nationwide effort is underway to reintroduce wolves into wilderness areas and insure their survival for generations to come.’ Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C.”; "The producers wish to thank Borough of Haines, Alaska; Chilkat Indian Villages of Klukwan; Klukwan, Inc.; University of Alaska; State of Alaska Film Office."
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Feb 1991
Section R, p. 13.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1988
p. 1, 26.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1989
p. 1, 120.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 1991
p. 13, 83.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jan 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Nov 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1991
Calendar, p. 4.
New York Times
18 Jan 1991
Section C, p. 16.
Variety
21 Jan 1991
p. 77.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures presents
A Randal Kleiser Film
Presented in Association with Silver Screen Partners IV
This motion picture was created by Hybrid Productions, Inc.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam® op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Rigging best boy
Still photog
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Best boy elec, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Lead man
Prop master
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Prop master, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Wardrobe supv
Wardrobe supv
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Addl mus by
Mus rec and mixed by
Mus rec and mixed by Tim Boyle at
Mus rec by
Mus rec by Steve Price at
Mus rec by Steve Price at
Mus mixed by
Mus mixed by Paul Hume at
Mus prod supv
Air-Edel, London
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Cableman
Sd des and supv sd ed
Sd ed services by
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR group coord
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
ADR voice group
Addl ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Main title des
Titles and opticals
Visual eff consultant
Matte artist
Matte photog
Effectsman, 2d unit
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
White Fang owned and trained by
Bart the Bear owned and trained by
Scr supv
Animal behavior coord by
Lead trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Trainer
Sled dog trainer
Sled dog trainer
Veterinarian
American Human Association representative
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Hybrid pack
Hybrid cubs provided by
Animal maker
Animal maker
Prod coord
Prod secy
Asst to Mr. Lobell
Asst to Mr. Kleiser
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Set prod asst
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Electronic press kit
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Extras casting
Scr supv/Trainee, 2d unit
Prod supv, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Loc equip by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Prod and distributed on
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the novel White Fang by Jack London (New York, 1905).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"The Bear," written by Shirley Walker.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 January 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 January 1991
New York opening: week of 18 January 1991
Production Date:
26 February 1990--July 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA496151
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30885
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1898, prospectors flock to Alaska in search of gold. Among them is young Jack Conroy, who arrives in the town of Skagway, telling fellow passenger Beauty Smith of his search for prospector Alex Larson. Beauty and his companions, Luke and Tinker, direct the boy to the Chilcoot Pass. The three men surround Jack and steal his money, but he is undaunted and makes his way to the pass. Jack finds Alex and his companion, Clarence “Skunker” Thurston, at the top of the pass. He introduces himself as the son of Scott Conroy, who died a year earlier, leaving behind a claim. Although Alex and Scott were close friends, the former doubts there is gold in the claim and advises Jack to go home. However, Skunker takes a liking to the boy and persuades Alex to bring him as far as Klondike City, Alaska, after they bury their dead comrade, Dutch. A pack of hungry wolves follow the expedition through the wilderness, hoping to feed on the sled dogs. A female wolf infiltrates the dogs while they are being fed and escapes with a fish, which she feeds to her cub. As the expedition resumes the next day, the sled falls over an embankment, spilling Dutch’s corpse onto a frozen lake. Despite warnings from Alex, Jack ventures onto the lake to retrieve a box of ammunition and falls through the ice. Dutch’s corpse falls in as well, supplying Jack with a buoy to help him reach the surface. By nightfall, wolves surround the prospectors’ camp and the female approaches, attracting Digger, the lead sled dog. ... +


In 1898, prospectors flock to Alaska in search of gold. Among them is young Jack Conroy, who arrives in the town of Skagway, telling fellow passenger Beauty Smith of his search for prospector Alex Larson. Beauty and his companions, Luke and Tinker, direct the boy to the Chilcoot Pass. The three men surround Jack and steal his money, but he is undaunted and makes his way to the pass. Jack finds Alex and his companion, Clarence “Skunker” Thurston, at the top of the pass. He introduces himself as the son of Scott Conroy, who died a year earlier, leaving behind a claim. Although Alex and Scott were close friends, the former doubts there is gold in the claim and advises Jack to go home. However, Skunker takes a liking to the boy and persuades Alex to bring him as far as Klondike City, Alaska, after they bury their dead comrade, Dutch. A pack of hungry wolves follow the expedition through the wilderness, hoping to feed on the sled dogs. A female wolf infiltrates the dogs while they are being fed and escapes with a fish, which she feeds to her cub. As the expedition resumes the next day, the sled falls over an embankment, spilling Dutch’s corpse onto a frozen lake. Despite warnings from Alex, Jack ventures onto the lake to retrieve a box of ammunition and falls through the ice. Dutch’s corpse falls in as well, supplying Jack with a buoy to help him reach the surface. By nightfall, wolves surround the prospectors’ camp and the female approaches, attracting Digger, the lead sled dog. Skunker realizes she is a “part dog” decoy luring his animals to the wolf pack. He shoots the female and runs to Digger’s rescue, but is overwhelmed by the pack. Jack and Alex survive the night, using fire to keep the animals at a distance. The injured wolf hobbles back to her den, and her cub remains by her side until she dies. The cub attempts to join the wolf pack but is soon left behind. When a group of native Alaskans discover the cub, their chief, Grey Beaver, notes his “white fang,” proving the animal is descended from a domesticated dog. Grey Beaver adopts the cub and names him “White Fang.” Meanwhile, Alex and Jack bury Dutch and continue on to Klondike City, where Alex reunites with his lover, Belinda Casey. Although Alex has no intention of leaving town, he agrees to guide Jack to his father’s claim. They travel downstream to Grey Beaver’s village, and spend the night there at the chief’s invitation. Jack is intrigued by White Fang and tries to befriend the dog, but Grey Beaver discourages him, explaining that dogs are for work, not friendship. In the morning, Jack wanders away from the village and is pursued by a bear. He takes cover under a woodpile while White Fang comes to his defense and chases the bear away. Jack rewards the dog with a piece of jerky before he and Alex leave. After they arrive at Scott Conroy’s abandoned cabin, Alex offers to work the mine if Jack teaches him how to read. Meanwhile, Grey Beaver and White Fang arrive in Klondike City, where they encounter Beauty Smith and his fighting dog, Buck. While Grey Beaver offers animal pelts to a storekeeper, Beauty instigates a fight between the two dogs and White Fang wins. When Grey Beaver emerges from the store, Beauty demands compensation for his injured dog, forcing the chief to surrender White Fang. Following a training regimen of taunting and abuse, Beauty, Tinker, and Luke enter White Fang in his first fight. He kills his opponent and continues undefeated through numerous fights. Jack and Alex come upon a dogfight in which White Fang is pitted against a pitbull owned by Beauty’s archrival, Sykes. A police raid drives the spectators away as White Fang’s opponent grabs him by the throat. Jack pries the dogs apart with a crowbar, then claims White Fang as restitution for the money he lost to Beauty months earlier. Alex holds Beauty at gunpoint, compelling him to relinquish the dog. Jack nurses White Fang back to health, but Alex is doubtful the animal can be tamed. However, Jack’s patience and kindness eventually overcome White Fang’s resistance and they become constant companions. One day, a section of the mine collapses, revealing a large vein of gold ore. Jack takes a sample to the assayer in Klondike City, accompanied by White Fang. Luke informs Beauty and Tinker, and they follow Jack back to the mine. The next morning, Beauty and Tinker open fire on the cabin and attempt to burn it down. White Fang attacks Tinker, who accidentally discharges his gun, wounding Luke. After the dog subdues Beauty, Jack and Alex take their assailants prisoner and force them at gunpoint to haul gold ore into town. Alex and Belinda decide to marry and start a new life in San Francisco, California. They invite Jack to join them, but remind him that White Fang is not suited for city life, and should be set free. Jack releases the dog, but ultimately decides to stay in Alaska. He returns to the cabin to make repairs and is reunited with White Fang. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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