Can you think of a single movie that has caused more great movies to come from the West Coast than The Call of the Wild? It is not just The Wild One or Orson Welles or the glorious Delta Blues or Anthony Quinn or any of the other fantastic independent gems that came out of Los Angeles over the last forty years. It is not just The Big Sleep or Casablanca that make the west coast a fantastic place to direct, write, and produce films. Nor is it just the town of Hollywood, where the greats have produced such classics as Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
What is this one movie director? Surely it must be directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Paul Newman? Is he one of the most celebrated directors in history? The Call of the Wild ranks in the top five best movies ever made. It is the only movie with two Best Picture wins.
This is one of those films that doesn't make sense unless you watch it again, which I often do when I see a movie. My search for the right time to watch The Call of the Wild started after it won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1976.
During that same year, I started reading biographies about the stars of that movie, so I could discover just how, and how well, they really did act in this film. After that, I had to finish the biography of Humphrey Bogart in order to know how he acted with Katharine Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Each biography offered a different take on what happened to Humphrey, Katharine, and many other actors in the movie. How did they act? Did they really "act" as they are famous for doing, or were there scenes they "acted" in, but their true self was hiding behind the scenes?
Did the actors want to star in that movie? Did they want to be in the movie so much that they couldn't act? Was it a movie that needed to be seen in order to be believed, or was it an actor's wet dream movie that only they could get?
Hollywood seems to be divided about this movie. Some people love it and want to see it again. Others dislike it. No matter whether you like it or not, you need to see it at least once in order to understand what is going on, and what is important about it.
Some people love The Call of the Wild for what they call its "dreamlike quality." Others love the twist in the plot that exposes the layers of truth that make this movie great.