Call of the Wild (1935)
20th Century Fox
Release Date: August 9, 1935
Directed by: William Wellman
Available on DVD in The Clark Gable Collection Vol. 1
Gable is Jack Thornton, on the hunt for a gold mine through the tundra with his sidekick Shorty (Oakie). As they struggle through the mountains in the bitter cold, they encounter Claire Blake (Young) who is stranded alone after her husband left her to search for food. They discover that Claire and her husband were after the same gold mine. Aided by their trusty dog Buck, they find the mine and along the way Claire and Jack fall in love. Their happiness is short-lived, however, as Claire’s husband reappears and a rival turns up to claim the mine as his own.
Photoplay magazine, January 1935:
A vigorous, red-blooded screen version of Jack London’s novel that you are sure to enjoy. Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Jack Oakie, Reginald Owen and the great dog Buck. (July)
Motion Picture magazine, July 1935:
AAAA. Here is a Jack London tale so well retold on the screen as to make it one of the best entertainment films of the year. Buck, the dog, almost steals the show from Clark Gable, Loretta Young and Jack Oakie, but they all work together in a plot filled with drama, danger and romance in the wilds of the frozen North. The plot of the London masterpiece is too familiar to all to need retelling here. Darryl Zanuck has taken many liberties with the original, but nothing is lost in screen values.
Gable and Oakie accompany Young, whose husband has been lost on the trail, into the Yukon in search of a fabulously which her husband’s father has discovered. They are followed by a gang of crooks and as the trail lengthens, Gable and Loretta fall in love with each other. The missing husband is with the crooks, being forced to try to find the mine.
Gable portrays his part superbly, while Oakie keeps the audience in an uproar. Loretta Young is splendid.
Photoplay magazine, July 1935:
Jack London’s novel, “Call of the Wild,” comes to the screen a vigorous, red-blooded picture that you are sure to enjoy. The refreshing backgrounds of deeply gleaming snow, towering moutains and wild, rushing rapids, are exciting in themselves. And when you put four fine actors–Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Jack Oakie and Reginald Owen against these backgrounds, you have top-notch entertainment.
The familiar story has been changed in spots, but the revisions make for stronger screen fare. And all the humanness, the drama, of the novel have been retained.
You will rise and cheer when Buck, the dog, in an almost death-dealing race, pulls one thousand pounds of sled for one hundred yards, winning one thousand dollars for Gable, who trained him, so he can outfit himself for a trip to the fabulous mine where untold golden riches are.
The romance in the film is between Gable and the lovely Miss Young. And it’s a tenderly told story on the screen. Reginald Owen plays perfectly the role of the heavy obsessed with the idea of killing the faithful dog, Buck. And, Jack Oakie is one rip-roaring howl after another. (You will tell your friends about those scenes when Oakie rolls the bones!)
The direction of William Wellman deserves high praise, and Charles Rosher’s photography is top-notch.
Movie Mirror magazine, September 1935:
Jack London’s famous book of the out-of-doors brings Clark Gable as the miner, Jack Oakie as his wisecracking pal and Loretta Young as the wife of another miner who casts her lot with Gable and Oakie. Buck, a St. Bernard dog, is the hero of the show.
Silver Screen magazine, November 1935:
Fair. The great open spaces of the Klondike lure our friend Clark Gable in this romantic Jack London novel, and way out there we also meet Loretta Young, Jack Oakie and Reginald Owen emoting picturesquely–in spite of the climate.
“Quiet everybody! Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please! You’re about to take your last look at
Mr. Thornton’s handsome smiling face! So make the most of it you weasels!” first line
“My stomach wants to know how my credit is…”
“That dog belongs to me. I bought him, Smith, and I don’t allow my dogs to be shot. T
hat is of course unless I shoot them myself.”
“Listen you—you’re my dog and I’m your boss. The sooner you learn that the easier it will be for both of us.”
“Make yourself at home, Buck!”
“He isn’t dead and he isn’t a HE!”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me!”
“Would you mind keeping that fat snoot of yours out of my affairs?”
“I wanted you. And I took you with us. Well, I’m keeping you.”
“Well, I’ll be seeing you.”
“Shorty, what’s that? Where did you get it?” last line
Behind the Scenes:
Gable was loaned to 20the Century Fox (much to his chagrin) for this film. Young was loaned from Warner Brothers.
Shot on location in northern Washington state in December and January, the production schedule called for the film to be completed in six weeks. Because of blizzards that snowed in the cast and crew and froze the cameras, it ended up taking nine.
Director William Wellman recalled that Gable became very close with the dog portraying Buck.
When they filmed the scene where Buck is struggling to pull the 1,000lbs of weight, the dog wouldn’t leave Gable’s side. So they positioned a girl dog in heat at the other end so the dog would struggle to get to her. When the shot was complete, they took the girl dog away and Gable said, “I feel like I just double-crossed my best friend.”
Wellman grew tired of Gable showing up to the set late and carousing after hours with Oakie
and the crew, gambling and drinking. He confronted him one day on the set and claims he would have punched him in the face but “I needed that handsome mug for the picture.”
Gable and Young had an affair during filming. Only the cast and crew of the film knew about it then and the affair ended after filming wrapped. Young became pregnant and had the baby, a girl named Judy, on November 6, 1935.
Gable never admitted parentage and Young put the child in an orphanage and then “adopted” her months later.
She only admitted the truth to Judy in the 1990’s, shortly before her death. Judy wrote a book about the experience
being the secret love child of two classic stars, called Uncommon Knowledge. Read more about it here.