War veterans visit a lakeside cabin for a week of shooting, drinking, etc. but find the cabin being looked after by a young caretaker named David. When David's status as a war deserter is revealed, all hell breaks loose.

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Cast overview:
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Charlie
David Huffman ...
David
...
Linda
...
Wilbur
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George
Paul Mantee ...
Sweeney
Conrad Hool ...
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War veterans visit a lakeside cabin for a week of shooting, drinking, etc. but find the cabin being looked after by a young caretaker named David. When David's status as a war deserter is revealed, all hell breaks loose.

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Drama | Thriller

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R | See all certifications »
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1978 (USA)  »

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The Honor Guard  »

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$970,000 (estimated)
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This was originally intended as a starring vehicle for Lee Marvin. See more »

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A flawed but still involving thriller
14 June 2003 | by (Victoria, BC) – See all my reviews

Given that the movie takes place in Canada, and with producer Melvin Simon having dabbled with the Canadian tax shelter system, you might have reason to believe WOLF LAKE is one of the outputs Canada made during its tax shelter period. Especially since it happens to be a thriller taking place in the backwoods. Surprisingly, though, the credits reveal that the movie was in fact shot in Mexico!

While the premise of the movie may seem somewhat familiar, even though I can't think of any movie with a plot that's *exactly* like this one, it does have some exceptional elements, part due to writer/director Kennedy, a veteran western director. (In fact, some parts of the movie do resemble a western.) The production values are really strong, boosted no doubt by the ability to squeeze more value out of a dollar in Mexico, and the camera placing and other directional touches are very professional. Kennedy manages to give this lakeside setting an unsettling feeling, a sense of the threats to come.

Kennedy also handles the cast pretty well, though all the actors seem well prepared and up to the challenge. The acting is really good, due in part that Kennedy gives the actors dialogue that fleshes out their characters. Steiger, no surprise, towers over everyone. Though his character is a villain whose eventual behavior can't be excused, you really sense the grief his character has been suffering for years - a grief that has eaten him up and filled him with poison. He's a frightening character even before crossing the line, because his behavior is so believable.

The movie is not perfect, though. The biggest flaw is that (at least in the version I saw) there are flashforwards in the first half of the movie that manage to spoil almost *every* major happening in the second half. (The second half has a flashBACK to a previously unseen event, which makes as much sense as those flashforwards!) Also, it takes over half of the running time before the crisis actually starts!

Incidently, the movie runs only 87 minutes, which is a pretty short running time. Given that short running time and those confusing edits, there's a chance the movie's slow (though not boring) first half panicked the investors and resulted in some drastic changes. Apparently the movie was re-released a few years later in its original form as THE HIGHEST HONOR, which I would like to see and compare. Maybe some enterprising DVD company could re-release the movie on that format, with each version on a separate side of the DVD. It's not as if the rights for such an obscurity would cost that much.


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