The lion-hearted dog that was Jack London’s creation as the leading character of Call of the Wild emerges now as a stooge for a rather conventional pair of human love birds. Changes have made the canine classic hardly recognizable, but they have not done any damage.
The big and exceptionally wild St Bernard, known as Buck, is not entirely submerged, since such of his feats as the haul of a 1,000-pound load over the snow and his mating with a femme wolf are included, but he has been decidedly picture-house broken.
Clark Gable strong-and-silents himself expertly and Loretta Young, in the opposite corner of the revised love affair, is lovely and competent. But Jack Oakie has the laughs, and they land him on top.
It’s a story of treachery, hardship, violence and unrequited love in Alaska, so anything that does away with sadness for a momentary giggle is highly welcome. Gable and Oakie’s rescue of Young, whose husband has apparently lost his way and perished; their finding of the gold mine; their encounter with the villainous Reginald Owen; the return of Young’s husband, lending a bitter-sweet finish to the romance, are the highlights of the story’s human element.
This is the second trip for the London novel to the screen. Pathe made it silent in 1923.