|Index||4 reviews in total|
With good action, a likable animal star, and well-chosen outdoor
settings, this is an enjoyable movie to watch. The story is made up of
some familiar elements, but it moves at a good pace, and the technique
is solid and often impressive.
The plot has Rin Tin Tin as the leader of a pack of wolves trying to survive near a populated area, and it combines his story with that of a prospector (played by Charles Russell) who's trying to win the daughter of a wealthy rancher at the same time as he has to outwit a crafty claim jumper. It's the resulting action scenes that make the movie so entertaining, and that also display some resourceful filming technique. Rin Tin Tin really is the biggest star, and all of the scenes with him and his stand-ins look very realistic, and work quite well. He even has believable reactions to the rather goofy ideas that the prospector and his comic-relief buddy (Charles Conklin) concoct in trying to domesticate him.
There are also lots of other scenes involving groups of animals, and it must have taken a lot of careful planning to make them look so good. At times they capture large-scale action, and at other times the camera is able to capture the speed of its star in motion. Almost all of the story takes place outdoors, and the settings help create the right atmosphere for the story. Overall, this is an entertaining movie with several strengths to it.
Rin-Tin-Tin was one of more than a dozen dog heroes who thrilled
audiences during the Twenties, but he was definitely the most famous.
Warner Brothers showcased his talents with fast paced and cinematic ally
competent films like this one. Rin did not do all the work himself, as
he had a large number of stand-ins and stunt doubles who are hard to
distinguish from him at times.
Rin's co-stars provide good support for him in this tale of a handsome young borax prospector named Dave Weston who must defend not only his claim but his very life from a claim assessor gone bad. Rin is the wolf hybrid everyone wants to shoot... until one day when Dave finds him incapacitated by a cactus thorn and dying slowly of thirst in the desert. His compassion overcomes his desire to kill him for the bounty on his head, and he takes him to his cabin and treats his wound. "Lobo" becomes his constant companion. From there the story sweeps the viewer in and never lets up until the climax.
As of September 2004, Image Entertainment now has CLASH OF THE WOLVES available on DVD as part of a fascinating boxed set of rarities from the first thirty years of cinema, "More Treasures".
Clash of the Wolves (1925)
*** (out of 4)
A fire breaks out in the forest so Lobo (Rin Tin Tin), the leader of his wolf pack, must take his wife, pups and other wolves down into the desert. Once there the wolves are constantly attacked by some villagers who think that the wolves are going to eat their cattle. Lobo is eventually injured and near death but one of the villagers ends up saving his life and of course Lobo will be there if the man ever needs help. I really wasn't expecting much out of this film but I was curious to see my first Rin Tin Tin film and it's funny I watched this after the Brando documentary because this dog has got to be the greatest actor next to ol' Brando. Why do I say that? There's a long scene in the movie where Rin Tin Tin is near death and for the life of me I can't figure out how they got the dog to do what they did. I'd like to think this dog was just that talented but in my brain I'm thinking they had to have actually injured the dog to get the reactions because there's certainly a look of pain in his eyes. Outside of that, this film is pretty entertaining on all levels as it has a nice love story, some funny moments as well as some great action with Rin Tin Tin jumping into harms way constantly to be the hero.
A tremendous showcase for the greatest of canine performers. The movie
only falls short in the idiotic slapstick by Heinie Conklin. A young
Charles Farrell does a decent job as the human lead, and June Marlowe
is excellent and very natural as his girl. But it's Rin Tin Tin who
steals the show and the hearts of the audience as a half breed wolf dog
who learns the ways of civilization.
I have to dispel a couple of misstatements by other reviewers here. According to Susan Orlean's outstanding biography of Rinty, he performed all of his own stunts in this movie, and he was not injured in any way during the production. It was all acting. His master, Lee Duncan, traveled with the dog and gave live presentations in which he had Rinty demonstrate all of the pain takes and other complex actions from the movie on stage, with Duncan standing ten feet away and controlling the dog through hand gestures. He did this to prove that the dog was never in any real pain on screen. Contemporary accounts describe Rinty's performances as uncanny.
In the first Academy Awards presentation, Rinty received the most votes of any actor for best performance, but the Academy decided it would demean the award if it was given to a mere dog, so they gave it to Emil Jannings instead. Bad mistake. There was nothing mere about Rin Tin Tin.
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