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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Call of the Wild [Blu-ray]


(William A. Wellman, 1935)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: 20th Century Pictures

Video: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:31:42.538

Disc Size: 22,394,655,086 bytes

Feature Size: 21,620,533,248 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.49 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 3rd, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1027 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1027 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Commentary by Darwin Porter

Trailer (1:45)





Description: Hollywood legend Clark Gable stars in this soaring adaptation of the celebrated Jack London novel. Jack Thornton (Gable) is a prospector who travels the Yukon in search of gold. When Jack buys Buck, a strong and loyal sled dog with part-wolf ancestry, their thrilling adventure through the Alaskan wilderness begins.



The Film:

Written by Gene Fowler and Leonard Praskins, the script is loosely-adapted from Jack London’s novel “Call of the Wild,” which is also the inspiration for numerous other film incarnations (several of which use “White Fang” as an alternative to the book’s original title). London’s tale of camaraderie is well captured by Gable (in the role of Jack Thornton) and the fierce sled dog, Buck. However, London’s liberal approach to domesticating the untamable is underplayed in this Hollywood adaptation--perhaps for the greater good of non-political entertainment. Above all other distinctions, Reginald Owen’s villainous performance separates Wellman’s “Call of the Wild” from subsequent versions.

Wellman and the screenwriters heighten Owen’s snarling crook to contrast the sappy companionship of a man and his dog, which works to the film’s advantage. Wellman never allows the film to become overly sentimental, regardless of the hints of melodrama. Unfortunately for film aficionados, studio executives scrapped a darker original ending in favor of a more pleasant finale. Although Fox has included Wellman’s compromised vision, the film is still a fine addition to the adventure genre.

Excerpt from Kurtis J. Beard at DVDBeaver's review located HERE

The third screen version of Jack London's classic adventure story was also the first with sound, and it toyed with the original story a bit to add a love interest for leading man Clark Gable. Jack Thornton (Gable) is a would-be prospector who has headed to Alaska hoping to cash in on the gold rush. However, he loses most of his stake in a poker game and instead ends up buying a Saint Bernard named Buck. He's able to pick up Buck for a song because he's too ill-tempered to pull a sled; Smith (Reginald Owen), Buck's former owner, treated him with cruelty and the dog mangled Smith's hand in retaliation. Jack loves the dog, though, and treats him with care and kindness. Buck bonds with Jack and soon becomes a loyal companion and a good sled dog. Angry and astounded, Smith bets Jack that Buck can't pull a half-ton sled 100 yards; while the old Buck would never have done it, with Jack's urging the dog manages the feat and Jack now has the funds to set out with his friend Shorty (Jack Oakie) to stake their claim. While searching for gold, Jack and Shorty discover Claire Blake (Loretta Young), the wife of a miner who abandoned her to look for a fresh vein of gold. A warmth grows between Claire and Jack in the frozen North, but Jack is forced to help her husband when he runs afoul of thieves trying to steal his claim. Six more films based on The Call of the Wild would follow this to the screen.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Call of the Wild appears darker on Blu-ray from Fox than the old DVD.  I think we might lose a bit of detail but the film-like appearance, with heavy grain, goes to the 1080P. Black levels are superior (rich!) and contrast more layered. It is smooth in-motion without excessive flickering. The image is clean (a few, very minor, speckles) and I think it looks very good considering the age. This Blu-ray is single-layered with a supportive bitrate. I prefer the darker look and there is no noise or artifacts.  This Blu-ray does the film proud appearing as close as we are ever likely to get to the theatrical release.




Clark Gable Collection, Vol. 1 - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox - Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM



Clark Gable Collection, Vol. 1 - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Fox - Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM














Audio :

No superfluous bump - only the original mono in a DTS-HD 1.0 channel at 1027 kbps. It is not without its inherent weaknesses - solely due to the production period.  Dialogue is clean and some of the minor effects are exported with depth. I found Alfred Newman's score a little scratchy and irritating but I don't believe it was any different than the original. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Nothing new in the extras - we get the older, but informative, commentary by, biographer, Darwin Porter as well as a trailer. That is all.



While not 'prime Gable', this is still a good film. Loretta Young is great and he's perfect - cementing his legacy as another 'man's man' character.  I was pleased to see it in 1080P but it would really only appeal to fans of vintage cinema as the Blu-ray attributes lend themselves more to the serious film student than the modern film fan. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 27th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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