- 1h 1min
Just paroled from a prison term for manslaughter, ex-Marine Jim Hughes makes a new start with his wife Ellen and ten-year-old son Paul, on a ranch given him by his old Corps commander. Kriva... Read allJust paroled from a prison term for manslaughter, ex-Marine Jim Hughes makes a new start with his wife Ellen and ten-year-old son Paul, on a ranch given him by his old Corps commander. Krivak, a vicious neighbor, threatens to take the land away from him after Jim refuses to sell.... Read allJust paroled from a prison term for manslaughter, ex-Marine Jim Hughes makes a new start with his wife Ellen and ten-year-old son Paul, on a ranch given him by his old Corps commander. Krivak, a vicious neighbor, threatens to take the land away from him after Jim refuses to sell. He instigates a fight between his dog Thunder and Paul's much smaller dog, which is kille... Read all
WOLF DOG was "Lassie" with an ironic edge. A torturous "B" film which was in conflict with its very identity. Much like Canada, where it was filmed in 1957. With much fanfare upon its release, the film disappeared by the early sixties. First of all, the picture's tagline declares "Outlaw Terror of the Great North Country" and yet the law is upheld by a U.S. Marshal. Hollywood rumors say one of the actors wanted it gone ... no trace of it - Why? As I said "torturous"...
No one knows the word "torturous" better than poor 11 year old Paul Hughes (played by Canadian youth actor, Anthony Brown). In a short time, Paul has to endure moving into rural isolation, having his dog killed before his eyes in a dog fight inside the Markdale Garage, finding out that his parents lied to him about his Dad being in jail for five years.
If that's not enough, his family is then terrorized by a vicious rancher seeking to possess their land and then held hostage in their home by bank robbers! Through it all, "Dog" (original name, huh?) does nothing heroic, nothing remotely exciting ... and becomes loved by the entire family for it!?!
In fact, Dog seems to cause many of the problems in the picture. The pooch played by Prince almost gets Paul drowned in the rapids, goes into town and kills another dog in a horrific fight, then barks to let bad guys know Paul is in a closet. Paul declares mystically "He's wonderful, isn't he, Dad?"
And "Dog" is a wuss, besides. Jim Hughes (Davis) gets shot by a bank robber, then miraculously appears unscathed in the very next scene. This while young Paul wraps the dog's paws, wounded in a dogfight from several scenes previous.
Craggy-faced Missouri actor Jim Davis won one of his rare cinematic starring roles in WOLF DOG. Davis, who signed autographs for locals in Markdale's old Marigold Restaurant in 1957 and gushed to a cub newspaper reporter about "the wonderful farming country in the district", had one wonderfully choreographed fistfight with actor John Hart, who appeared in the credits under the name B. Braithwaite. The paternal role of Jim Hughes would serve him well in a future role that would make him a Hollywood luminary in the seventies, Jock Ewing, of the TV series "Dallas."
The role of the main heavy in this set-in-1950 western is a departure for the late Austin Willis. The urbane Canadian actor, best known as suave "silver fox" types in motion pictures, puts a dark head into his black hat (complete with Richard Kimble FUGITIVE-style dye job) and tries to become Jim Hughes' (Davis) worst nightmare.
Speaking of reverie, the starlet thought to be the best wet dream in 1950s "B" movies plays Davis' wife - Allison Hayes. I wonder how many small town male hearts went "flutter" when stunning Allison sashayed into the front doors of F.T. Hill's department store that sweltering August day? She reportedly benefited from the services of local hairdresser Mabel Douglas, who really outdid herself with a styling brush and a little hair fix.
Why do I write of this? The movie WOLF DOG was filmed in my hometown of Markdale, Ontario, Canada. Many locals appeared in the movie as extras and I have had the pleasure of meeting a number. While there are no longer as many tractors parked on the streets as there seemed to be in 1957 and the main corner finally warranted traffic lights by the late 1970s, its amazing how the old place never changed. Watching WOLF DOG revitalizes me a great deal. It offers me a chance to revisit childhood, when streets were clean, life was simple and people were generally happy. God knows we could use more of that today.
Today, the mysterious legacy of WOLF DOG has become more popular than ever to the folk of this tiny Canadian town. In July 2007, a public screening of the cineplay finally took place for residents who hadn't seen hide, nor hair of it in almost 50 years! Other than the great promotional support provided by CBC Radio, no one else from the outside knows, or even seems to care about the flick...and that's just fine. WOLF DOG remains our treasure and we're proud of it!
- Oct 16, 2004