Classic Film Guide

Clash of the Wolves (1925)

This silent adventure Western features the dark coated German Shepherd dog star Rin Tin Tin as a wolf pack leader known as Lobo; it was directed by Noel Mason Smith and written by Charles A. Logue. Rinty had to wear booties on his front paws and sported a beard (incognito as a dog) during some of the action which includes lots of running, a jump over chasm, climbing a fence, a jump off a building onto a man on horseback, and performing heroic acts like saving his mate Nanette and their puppies from some raging mountain fires, which had forced him and his pack down into the desert valley where cattle graze and people reside. The first persons Lobo and his pack encounter are prospector Dave Weston (Charles Farrell), his girlfriend May Barstowe (June Marlowe), and Alkali Bill (Charlie ‘Heinie’ Conklin, whose character provides slapstick comic relief), teamster on the Barstowe ranch. May's rancher father Sam (William Walling) doesn't approve of his daughter's attachment to a tenderfoot like Dave. Pat Hartigan plays the villain Wm. 'Borax' Horton, who poses as a chemist but is really a claim jumper; an uncredited actor plays Horton's assistant.

Because of Bill's frantic reports of wolves in the valley, a posse is formed to chase the pack back away. Lobo decoys these men on horseback so that his peers and family can escape, but he gets a cactus splinter in his paw for his trouble. Not wanting to appear weak in front of the pack, he goes off into the desert where he would probably have died if Dave hadn't found him. The tenderfoot removes the thorn from the wolf's paw and Lobo becomes his 'tame' pet (that has to wear the aforementioned disguise in town). After Dave learns from chemist Horton that his mining sample was nearly pure borax, he goes out in to the desert to mark his claim. But greedy Horton follows and nearly kills the tenderfoot before Lobo rescues Dave and drags him into cave. Lobo then takes a message, written by Dave on a canteen, into town where he has to battle Horton again before he's chased into the desert as a wolf, but he and his pack are able to subdue and eliminate the claim jumper, saving the day for a happy ending.

The film was added to the National Film Registry in 2004.

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