THE POWER OF THE DOG is an adult drama set in 1925 Montana about a mean rancher named Phil, who’s jealous of his brother, George’s, new wife, Rose. Rose is a widow and has a son, Peter, who’s about to go to college to earn a medical degree. Phil mercilessly teases Peter about his “sissy” ways and mocks Rose at every opportunity. This drives Rose to drink. However, when Peter finds out about Phil’s hidden homosexual desires, he no longer fears the man. So, Phil takes Peter under his wing to maintain his dominance in their relationship. Eventually, the situation leads to murder.
Well-acted but slow, THE POWER OF THE DOG tells a disturbing, politically correct tale of jealousy, perversion and murder. By the end, the movie suggests that homosexuality is the result of society’s repression and oppression of such behavior and relationships. Also, the young man’s mother comes across as a weak person, which doesn’t quite ring true. THE POWER OF THE DOG contains some foul language, violence, partly obscured explicit male nudity, and unnecessary meanness. MOVIEGUIDE® rates this movie abhorrent.
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic, politically correct worldview about a mean-spirited rancher with latent homosexual desires who gets his comeuppance, but the movie suggests that society and hatred toward homosexuality is to blame for the situation, not homosexual behavior itself
Light and strong violence includes implied poisoning scene, man injures his hand in one scene and later is poisoned to death, and his corpse is shown, young man is briefly shown dissecting a rabbit and a cow, young man falls off horse
No depicted sex, but man hides a stash of magazines with naked bodies of other men, and younger man discovers the stash and looks at some of the pictures, so there’s a strong suggestion of homosexuality and latent homosexuality, and men visit saloon which appears to have prostitutes drinking with the men, plus man mentions story of he and his male mentor huddling together naked to keep warm during a bad winter storm
Multiple images of upper and rear male nudity, ranch hands swim totally naked, man swims totally naked in pond by himself, young man looks through one or two magazines with images of partially and mostly naked men (most in body builder poses) in older man’s secret stash, and some illusions of full frontal nudity in some of these images (camera cuts away or doesn’t follow the male bodies at strategic moments)
Alcohol use, and woman is driven to drink by her malicious and bigoted brother-in-law, so there’s multiple shots of her sneaking a drink about their ranch house
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Smoking but no drug abuse; and,
Some name calling, rudeness, unnecessary meanness, mockery, deceit, and man tells young man not to let his mother turn him into a sissy.
THE POWER OF THE DOG is an adult drama about a mean, latent homosexual rancher who’s jealous of his brother’s wife, deliberately drives her to drink and pours salt into her wounds by befriending her tinhorn, slightly effeminate son. THE POWER OF THE DOG tells a disturbing, politically correct tale of jealousy, homosexual perversion and murder with some foul language, explicit nudity and unnecessary meanness.
The movie opens by introducing two brothers, Phil and George Burbank, who own a large ranch in Montana in 1925. They’ve owned the ranch since 1900. Although he’s Ivy League educated, Phil is a rough and tough cowboy while George is the more shy, better dressed rancher and somewhat of a social climber. Phil often calls his brother “Fatso,” and likes to talk about their late mentor, Bronco Henry, who taught them everything they know about ranching.
George takes a liking to a widow named Rose Gordon, who runs a restaurant and inn. Her son, Peter, is about to go to college, to become a doctor. Peter is a bookworm with a talent for drawing. He likes to make paper flowers for his mother to put on the restaurant tables. Phil, however, mocks Peter for his “sissy” ways. This makes Rose cry, and George comforts her, which leads to a romance.
Of course, Phil doesn’t like the idea of his brother getting married to Rose. Apparently jealous, he thinks Rose is just a goldigger, and he tells George his opinion. George pays no mind to Phil, and suddenly Phil must confront the fact that George and Rose have married, and Rose and Peter are moving into the ranch house. Almost right away, Phil tells Rose that he thinks she just married George for his money. He mocks her every chance he gets and doesn’t refrain from picking occasionally on Peter. Meanwhile, the ranch hands under Phil also start mocking Peter, sometimes even calling him a homosexual slur. The tension drives Rose to drink, and Phil soon finds out about it, which only increases his derisive attitude toward her.
One day, however, Peter finds out a big secret Phil’s been hiding from everyone, and Phil knows that Peter knows about it. Phil starts treating Peter more kindly, taking the young man under his wing. Knowledge of Phil’s big vulnerability allows Peter to stop fearing Phil. Peter begins soaking up all of Phil’s knowledge about horses, cattle ranching and life. However, the situation eventually leads to murder.
[Spoilers follow] Well acted but slow moving, THE POWER OF THE DOG tells a disturbing, politically correct tale of jealousy, homosexual perversion and murder. The movie depicts a social environment where homosexuality is totally repressed. The movie suggests that Phil’s mean, bigoted attitudes toward other people, including effeminate boys like Peter, is the result of his own latent homosexuality. Thus, by the end of the movie, the filmmakers turn him into a kind of victim of the oppressive society around him instead of concluding that Phil’s sexual perversion is the root cause of his hatred of other people. It turns out, however, that an incident in Phil’s early life probably was the cause of his latent homosexuality, a fact that undercuts the movie’s politically correct elements. Peter’s mother, Rose, comes across as a very weak person, which doesn’t quite ring true.
THE POWER OF THE DOG also contains some foul language, violence, excessive male nudity, and unnecessary meanness. MOVIEGUIDE® rates this movie abhorrent.
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