During the Gold Rush, a young boy named Jim Chambers (Fernando E. Romero) rescues a German shepherd from a bear trap. Jim’s father doesn’t want Jim to adopt the dog but then he gets killed by Indians so what is he going to do about it? Traveling with two trappers who are also brothers (played by Manuel de Blas and Remo De Angelis), Jim, his sister, Mary (Elisabetta Virgili), and the dog move to the nearby town of Dawson City.
Jim and Mary want to take over the town’s newspaper, which was originally founded by their family. However, both the newspaper and the town have been taken over by an evil gambler named William Bates (Jack Palance). Bates may be willing to let the children run the paper but only if they allow him to take their dog. Meanwhile, one of the trappers falls in love with the local saloon keeper, Sonia Kendall (Joan Collins).
Though The Great Adventure is set in Alaska and tells a typical Western story, it’s an Italian film through-and-through. Jack Palance and Joan Collins may be top-billed but the movie itself is dominated by actors speaking in poorly dubbed English. This was one of several films based on White Fang that was released in the 70s and, like many of them, it’s an uneasy hybrid of a treacly family film and a violent western. On the one hand, it’s a film about two children and their dog trying to publish a newspaper and, on the other hand, Jack Palance kills people in cold blood. The film is so badly edited to be almost impossible to follow but I’m an unapologetic Jack Palance fan and I almost always enjoy any film that lets Palance do his thing. Unfortunately, The Great Adventure didn’t have as much Palance as I was expecting and Joan Collins is beautiful but hampered by the film’s G-rating. (For an actress who was affectionately nicknamed The Great British Open, Collins is always a strange presence in a family film.) At least the dog was a good actor. He eventually abandons his newfound family so that he can rejoin a wild dog pack in the wilderness and he probably made the right decision. He looks very happy at the end of the movie.