The DVD is offered as part of MGM’s “Limited Edition Collection” on DVD, which are available from select online retailers and are manufactured only when the DVD is ordered. The DVD features a simple menu with no menu for chapters or scenes. Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVDs are made to play in DVD playback units only and may not play in DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD did not play in our laptop DVD drive but did play in our Toshiba DVD recorder.
ASPECT RATIO: 1.33:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
A dog is kidnapped and sold to become a sled dog in the Alaska wilderness. Based on the book by Jack London.
Produced by: Harry Alan Towers
Directed by: Ken Annakin
This adaptation of the Jack London classic novel seems more obsessed with looking authentic than being entertaining. It is certainly watchable, but director Ken Annakin (who also directed Swiss Family Robinson for Disney) approaches this film with an odd sort of emotional disconnect. The story remains riveting, but the characters seem to be kept at an arm’s distance; you never truly care for their plight, Buck the dog included.
Instead, we are given a number of random shots of the Alaskan wilderness. At times, the shots linger too long. the entire film in need of a serious editor. It is filled with unessential shots, as well as awkward reaction shots. This film could easily be much shorter, and more enjoyable, with better editing.
Even so, the film is not unwatchable. Heston is good in the lead role, although he would later call the film the worst he has ever made, and the movie is fairly faithful to the book. If you can get through some of the stilted film-making presented here, there is a good movie to see here.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video quality is slightly above VHS, with a soft image overall. There is some debris on the print used for the transfer as well. The quality actually makes the film appear much older than it is. The film could probably benefit from a full restoration, but I doubt the quality of the original film stock would warrant one. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, but the sound feels quite flat and choppy. Most voices can be heard fairly well, and the score, which is a bit odd-sounding, does not have a rich or deep quality.
BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: C
The Call of the Wild is not a bad film, it just is not particularly great. Personally, the more I watched the film, the more I liked it, even without the happy ending. Fans of the book, and even fans of Heston, will appreciate the film. A lack of any special features makes it difficult to give this anything more than a rent recommendation, unless you are a die-hard fan and have been waiting for this film to get a DVD release.
The Call of the Wild is now available from online retailers through MGM/Fox Home Entertainment.
Click here to order The Call of the Wild from Amazon.