The Call of the Wild (1935)

91 mins | Drama | 9 August 1935

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HISTORY

Var commented concerning the relation of the film to the original book, "The lion-hearted dog that was Jack London's creation as the leading character...emerges now as a stooge for a rather conventional pair of human love birds. Changes have made the canine classic hardly recognizable." In the pressbook for the film, producer Darryl Zanuck stated his intent in changing the emphasis of the book: "I saw the man answering a call just as inexorable as that symbolized by the wolf-call which drew Buck in pursuit, back to the wilderness from whence he came. I suspect that Jack London wrote his simple, but lovable story with something of this hidden meaning behind his words. In his mind's eye were additional chapters, additional settings, characters and incidents. These we have developed with London's theme and plot structure as guide."
       Fredric March was originally cast as "Jack Thornton," but Zanuck decided that he was more suited to play "Jean Valjean" in Les Miserables (see below), and Clark Gable was substituted, according to a DV news item. Madeleine Carroll was originally announced as Gable's co-star, according to HR . According to Time , "Buck" was played by an eighteen-month old St. Bernard named King, who was owned by Carl Spitz, considered the number one dog trainer in Hollywood. Although, according to Time , Spitz wanted the studio to cast another dog, Cappy, in the role, Wellman and Zanuck picked King, and with his new name of Buck, the dog soon became the greatest dog star since Rin-Tin-Tin. Cappy was relegated to Buck's double.
       According to news items and ... More Less

Var commented concerning the relation of the film to the original book, "The lion-hearted dog that was Jack London's creation as the leading character...emerges now as a stooge for a rather conventional pair of human love birds. Changes have made the canine classic hardly recognizable." In the pressbook for the film, producer Darryl Zanuck stated his intent in changing the emphasis of the book: "I saw the man answering a call just as inexorable as that symbolized by the wolf-call which drew Buck in pursuit, back to the wilderness from whence he came. I suspect that Jack London wrote his simple, but lovable story with something of this hidden meaning behind his words. In his mind's eye were additional chapters, additional settings, characters and incidents. These we have developed with London's theme and plot structure as guide."
       Fredric March was originally cast as "Jack Thornton," but Zanuck decided that he was more suited to play "Jean Valjean" in Les Miserables (see below), and Clark Gable was substituted, according to a DV news item. Madeleine Carroll was originally announced as Gable's co-star, according to HR . According to Time , "Buck" was played by an eighteen-month old St. Bernard named King, who was owned by Carl Spitz, considered the number one dog trainer in Hollywood. Although, according to Time , Spitz wanted the studio to cast another dog, Cappy, in the role, Wellman and Zanuck picked King, and with his new name of Buck, the dog soon became the greatest dog star since Rin-Tin-Tin. Cappy was relegated to Buck's double.
       According to news items and the pressbook, the beginning of production was delayed because of sickness among various cast members, including Gable, who developed laryngitis. A setback also occurred because Gable was required to do retakes on M-G-M's Copy Cats , the working title of After Office Hours (see above). For the first day of shooting, according to the pressbook, Joan London, the author's daughter, and her son were invited to the set by Zanuck. Wellman and other production staff went location hunting in the Pacific Northwest and Canada in Dec 1934, and the entire film, with the exception of four days in the studio, was scheduled to be shot at Mount Baker, Washington, where a complete soundproof stage was to be built. On 13 Jan 1935, according to news items, a company of eighty people left for Mount Baker, but because of blizzards and lack of adequate accomodations, the company returned on 10 Feb with scenes still to be shot. In Feb, while at Mount Baker, cameraman Charles Rosher suffered a heart attack which was attributed to the high location. According to news items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, additional scenes were shot at Feather River, CA, Truckee, CA and the Universal Western Street.
       Footage from a scene in which "Shorty Hoolihan" is murdered by "Smith" and his henchman, was cut after an audience expressed disapproval in a preview, according to modern sources, and Zanuck ordered the script changed and retakes shot. The deleted scene, which has survived, runs as follows: On his way to file the claim, Shorty eats alone by a stream. Imitating an announcer at a racetrack, Shorty describes a frog race that he initiates, but the race is interrupted by Smith, his henchman Kali and Blake. When Smith asks whether Thornton is with him, Shorty says that they broke up and then tries to run. Kali catches Shorty, and Blake tells Smith that he will not stand for any violence. At night, by a campfire, Smith interrogates Shorty about the gold he is carrying, but Shorty refuses to acknowledge that he and Thornton found the mine. When Kali twists Shorty's arm behind his back, Shorty, in pain, admits that they did find the mine. After Kali continues to torture him, Shorty offers to tell them in detail how to get to the mine and then asks for a cigarette. After he lights the cigarette, he sets his map on fire, and he is shot in the back. Blake then goes to him and he dies. Blake accuses Smith of murder, and Smith says that when things get in his way, he gets a little impatient.
       Two sequences featuring the character "Marie," who was played by Katherine DeMille, were in the final draft of the script dated 26 Nov 1934 but were not in the print viewed. The first scene, which takes place near the beginning of the film, shows "Marie" crying as "Jack," who has left her a "poke" of gold dust, is about to leave her cabin. He reminds her that he earlier said he would be going home as soon as he made his "pile," and when she cries hysterically and urges him to remain, he leaves her with more gold, which mollifies her. Later, after he has lost his money gambling, and Shorty has talked him into becoming his partner, he returns to Marie's cabin and finds another man with her. The man stares in terror at Jack, who hits him and says to Marie, "Didn't take you long, did it?" Marie asks Thornton if he's going to hit her, and he replies that he hasn't made up his mind. He then finds his gold, and says, "This is the best way to hit you, sweetheart," before proceeding to sing to her "My Gal Sal." The next scene is the one in which Jack meets Buck. According to the cutting continuity in the Produced Scripts Collection, only the the second sequence was in the original release of the film. According to correspondence in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA Director Joseph Breen warned Zanuck that the scene with Marie must carry no suggestion that she is a prostitute. About that scene, Breen wrote, "We get the definite impression from the script that Thornton and Marie have been living together and that the 'poke' which Thornton first gives to Marie, and later takes away from her, is money given for prostitution. This scene, as it now stands, is a Code violation....The line, 'Two healthy people who took their fun and asked no questions' will have to be entirely deleted." The second sequence, which was DeMille's only appearance in the film, was cut sometime after the original release and is not in re-release prints that are shown publicly today.
       Breen was also adamant that Thornton and Claire "do not indulge in a sex affair as is suggested in the present script" and that the scenes between Buck and the she-wolf be rewritten "to get away from the very unpleasant connotation which these scenes now suggest." Zanuck replied to Breen that they had eliminated all the major objections, but Zanuck defended the scenes of the love affair between Thornton and Claire. He wrote, "There is a deep, real, profound love. There is nothing of a sexual nature about it. Certainly there is no law against her falling in love with another man after she believes her husband is dead....in a parting scene...she tells him that a love as great as theirs can't easily die and that if their love is to live, some day, sometime, somewhere they will get together if God means for them to get together. However, it was never our suggestion or implication...that she intended to deceive her husband, get him back to civilization and divorce him or kick him off and go back to the new man."
       Modern sources have speculated that Gable and Loretta Young had a love affair while they were on location, and that Young, a few months later, announced her retirement, supposedly for health reasons, but in reality because she was pregnant; she went to New York and then to Paris, and in 1937, adopted a twenty-three-month-old baby girl. Modern sources contend that the father of the child was Gable.
       The film was re-released on 23 Jun 1945 and in May 1953 in 81 minute versions. Other film versions of the book include a 1908 Biograph Co. production, directed by D. W. Griffith, starring Florence Lawrence and Charles Gorman; a 1923 Hal Roach Studios production, released by Pathé Exchange, directed by Fred Jackman and starring a different dog named Buck and Jack Mulhall; a 1973 German, Spanish, Italian and French co-production by CCC-Berlin, directed by Ken Annakin and starring Charlton Heston; and an NBC-TV broadcast in 1976 of a Charles Fries production, directed by Jerry Jameson and starring John Beck. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Dec 34
p. 12.
Daily Variety
29 Dec 34
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
24 Jan 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Feb 35
p. 2, 3
Daily Variety
18 Mar 35
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Apr 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 35
p. 11.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Apr 35
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Mar 35
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald
4 May 35
p. 35.
New York Times
13 Jan 1935.
---
New York Times
15 Aug 35
p. 15.
New York Times
1 Dec 1935.
---
Time
26 Aug 1935.
---
Variety
21 Aug 35
p. 21.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Samuel T. Godfrey
William R. Arnold
Jesse DeVorska
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
2d cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost
Asst des
Men's ward
Set ward
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Set makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr clerk
Props
Loc mgr
Research dir
Casting dir
Construction
Still photog
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in for Clark Gable
Stand-in for Jack Oakie
Stand-in for Loretta Young
Double for Buck
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Call of the Wild by Jack London (New York, 1903).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"It Ain't Goin' to Rain No More," by Wendall Hall.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 August 1935
Production Date:
14 December 1934--18 March 1935
added scene on 23 March 1935
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 June 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5604
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91
Length(in feet):
8,241 , 8,375
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
777
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Skagway in the Yukon, in 1900 during the gold rush, prospector Jack Thornton plans to return to his hometown of Chicago but loses all his money in a card game. "Shorty" Hoolihan, a New Yorker just released from jail after a six-month sentence for tampering with the mail, tells Jack about a letter he read that was sent by an ill prospector, Martin Blake, just before he died to his son John in San Francisco, which contained a map showing the location of a gold mine. Shorty has drawn the map from memory, and although he concedes that it may be faulty in spots, he talks Jack into becoming his partner after telling him that John Blake and his wife left Skagway that day in search of the mine. While buying a dog team, Jack and Shorty encounter a wealthy, sadistic English prospector, Mr. Smith, who wants to buy an untamed St. Bernard named Buck, so that he could shoot him. Jack, who admires the dog, buys him instead, and although Buck runs away once he is freed on the trail, he returns at night in the whirling snow and curls up beside Jack. After they come across Blake's wife Claire surrounded by wolves, she explains that Blake has been gone two days searching for food. Believing that Blake is dead, Jack forces Claire to come with them to Dawson. He and Claire grow fond of each other on the trail, and at Dawson, Claire agrees to become partners with them to find the gold. Although they need money to buy an outfit, Jack, after having lost most of their provisions crossing a ... +


In Skagway in the Yukon, in 1900 during the gold rush, prospector Jack Thornton plans to return to his hometown of Chicago but loses all his money in a card game. "Shorty" Hoolihan, a New Yorker just released from jail after a six-month sentence for tampering with the mail, tells Jack about a letter he read that was sent by an ill prospector, Martin Blake, just before he died to his son John in San Francisco, which contained a map showing the location of a gold mine. Shorty has drawn the map from memory, and although he concedes that it may be faulty in spots, he talks Jack into becoming his partner after telling him that John Blake and his wife left Skagway that day in search of the mine. While buying a dog team, Jack and Shorty encounter a wealthy, sadistic English prospector, Mr. Smith, who wants to buy an untamed St. Bernard named Buck, so that he could shoot him. Jack, who admires the dog, buys him instead, and although Buck runs away once he is freed on the trail, he returns at night in the whirling snow and curls up beside Jack. After they come across Blake's wife Claire surrounded by wolves, she explains that Blake has been gone two days searching for food. Believing that Blake is dead, Jack forces Claire to come with them to Dawson. He and Claire grow fond of each other on the trail, and at Dawson, Claire agrees to become partners with them to find the gold. Although they need money to buy an outfit, Jack, after having lost most of their provisions crossing a river, refuses to sell Buck to Smith; however, after Jack gets drunk and brags that Buck can pull a sled loaded with 1,000 pounds 100 yards, Smith wagers $1,000 against Buck that he cannot. Jack accepts and Buck barely succeeds before he collapses in Jack's arms. As they leave Dawson, Blake, unknown to them, is brought in barely alive. At night, Jack pensively stares at Claire by the fire and explains his acceptance of the "Law of the Klondike" -- if there is something you need, you grab it -- which Claire does not accept. Soon they find the gold, and Shorty is sent to file a claim. As the winter approaches, Buck is tempted by the call of nearby wolves, while Jack and Claire, alone in an isolated cabin, acknowledge and consummate their love. Meanwhile, Blake leads Smith to the gold. When they find the cabin, Smith orders one of his men to knock out Blake. Smith then takes the gold from Jack and Claire at gunpoint but dies with his men when their canoe overturns in rapids and the gold weights them down. After Buck finds Blake, Jack carries him to the cabin, where he and Claire nurse him to health. Although Jack tells Claire that he is keeping her, he relents after she explains that although she loves him, Blake needs her and that she lives by a different law than Jack. After the Blakes leave, Buck joins the wolves and becomes a father, and Jack is left alone for the winter, but in the spring, Shorty returns with an Indian woman, whom he won in a crap game, to be their cook. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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