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Success At Last - Wolf Dog DVD presentation to Walter Harris Library

LOBBY CARDS II (Allison Tribute)
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All stories and text copyrighted property of Jeffrey R.P. Wilson - 2005
Perhaps no one will ever know the amount of work that went into bringing this moment into being. This moment is thanks to the tireless work and dedication of Philip Lubert of Rogers TV created a one-of-a-kind DVD for both the Markdale Library and Grey Roots Heritage and Visitor Centre. Below is the presentation of a not-for-profit DVD of the 1958 film WOLF DOG (that was filmed in Markdale and former Holland Township, north of Holland Centre) to Mrs. Beth Kennedy, head librarian of the Walter Harris Memorial Branch, Grey Highlands Municipal Library system.
Photo by Rebekah Wilson
PRESENTS DVD TO LIBRARY - Beth Kennedy (right) of the Walter Harris Library is shown here receiving a special DVD of the 1958 movie WOLF DOG, that was filmed in this area, from Jeff Wilson (right). Jeff, a native of the Markdale area, spearheaded the successful search for WOLF DOG and is quick to applaud the efforts of Owen Sound resident Philip Lubert (inset) for the creation of the DVD and goes as far as to say "This just couldn't have happened without him."

     Mr. Lubert of Rogers Television, the producer of the original First Local news item about Wolf Dog, donated his time and effort in recreating and re-mastering a special presentation DVD for the Harris Library and Grey Roots Heritage and Visitor Centre near Owen Sound. Wilson feels Mr. Lubert's efforts are one of the main reasons it is possible to donate a copy to the library and Grey Roots. His belief and commitment to the project will long be recognized by those associated with the movie both past, present and future.

     When asked why WOLF DOG should be considered so valuable historically, Wilson pointed to "our technological age," in which audio-visual records can be stored easily and will take on new importance as the historical artifacts generations of the future will study.

Wilson adds "All one has to do is go back 10-20 years, when there was just no information available about WOLF DOG. Yes, this will tincrease in importance as time goes on."
Reflections On A Successful Search

    I can still remember stories around the dinner table about the Hollywood actor named Jim Davis, his female co-star Allison Hayes and a "B" movie by the name of "A Boy And His Dog" made on the streets of Markdale. My parents had vague memories of the film, except for the fact that they and many others had the opportunity to walk through scenes. Dad even claimed to take me to a moviehouse to watch it, but I had no recollection of that event.
The Hughes family is introduced to movie audiences and Grey County residents alike, as their Ford "woody" appears on area roads.
    I had this idea that if I ever found the movie in VHS format. I'd purchase a copy of it and present it to my parents, who seemed to have such strong memories of it. All along I harboured a longing to actually see this legendary movie to cure my own curiosity. How much of the village did it show? Would I see recognizable locals in it? Why did a small-time "B" movie seem to linger in the minds of so many, for so long?
    In the 1970s, one of our weekly family rituals was sitting down together to watch DALLAS. Whenever I watched that series, I tried to imagine actor Jim Davis, the white-haired patriarch of the fictitious Ewing family, as the youthful male lead in "A Boy And His Dog." Davis had clearly come a long way from his stop in Markdale and many from the community would talk amongst friends about the show and say "You know, he once made a movie in our town!"
Also in the 1970s, I have a vague memory about a death announcement coming over the radio. I didn't recognize the name Allison Hayes, but my mother said this lady played the female lead in the "boy and his dog" movie made in Markdale.

     Often when the family got together to watch Austin Willis host "This Is The Law" on CBC TV, I was reminded, "He was in 'Seaway' and was one of the actors in that movie they made here..."
    So, I have this amazing picture in my mind of the scenario of Ruth Graham sitting in with the Wolf Dog cast in Markdale's bygone "Marigold Restaurant." Ron Wyvill waits patiently for Jim Davis to sign his autograph book, as Davis expounds eloquent on the virtues of the "wonderful farming country in this district." Allison Hayes speaks sparingly and eats lightly to maintain her magnificent figure, sending her portions to the brilliant, but untamed, Director/Producer Sam Newfield, who bruskly takes it from her delicate hands and stuffs it into his talking mouth. Parts of it fall back out as he says thank you and a couple of other things that are unintelligible. Tony Brown and Paul Hutton are sharing a plate of french fries, while Syd Brown warns Tony not to eat too fast and to make sure he rehearses his line before shooting resumes. The gentlemanly Austin Willis hiding the excruciating pain caused by his tight cowboy boots, tousles the hair of some of the local small fry, while John Hart quietly ponders how he will solve the perplexing issue of his lapsed work permit. It amazing to know it all happened, even if not that way, or at that time. Thanks for joining me in this fascinating historic journey into the 1958 movie WOLF DOG.
JIM HUGHES: "There's no better sight in the world than a boy and his dog. It's always been so."
ELLEN HUGHES: "I think it always will be."                             - Last words uttered in WOLF DOG (1958)
    Jim Davis was a prolific actor who had achieved a reputation in "B" movies, but his star really began to rise with the advent of the new medium, television.

     The transition made Davis a household name in America as well as in Canada, as he starred as Matt Clark, Railroad Detective in "Stories of the Century" and Wes Cameron in "Rescue 8," a forerunner to the spirit of the 80s TV series "Emergency."
    Regal Films and Director Sam Newfield knew that to make a financial success out of this low-budget film, they had to have marquee names. Davis and Allison Hayes fit the bill and the bulk of the budget was very likely paid out to them. Davis was said to be the perennial 'party animal' of his generation and stories of his exploits in the lounge of the old Downtowner hotel in Owen Sound persist to this day. It seems the actors were lodged at the Downtowner during downtime of the movie and while Newfield and crew scouted the area for locations on which to shoot.
    Allison Hayes was possibly quite happy to be outnumbered by some hunky co-stars, being the sole female actor in the cast. However, I recently had a person tell me that it was their opinion that she had a brief liason with an off-screen crew member during the shoot temporarily dubbed "A Boy And His Dog." She later appeared with Jim Davis in the cult western classic, "The Lust To Kill," which also had a hostage-taking incident in its plotline. Of course, the movie made in Markdale didn't share "Lust To Kill's" sexually charged atmosphere, though it did contain some subtle suggestiveness. Being a kid's movie, sexuality was implied, rather than graphically spelled out.
A crowd scene from Wolf Dog that may be of interest to many of the older set in Markdale. Ron Wyvill said that "Red" Stewart is the young boy at the extreme right. The two gents in checked shirts seemed like real characters. Note the circular "Fire Dept" sign on the door behind "Red" and the young girl to his left. The sign also depicts a graphic of a hand with its index finger pointing toward an alarm button on the right part of the doorframe.
    Locations depicted in the movie will be the most lasting historic contribution of this film. Orchard's Drug Store is the only Markdale location where interiors were filmed. I'm told the Orchards were fine folk and continued to live in the area until the past year, or so. One common comment is that the couple were heavy smokers. One person told me that whenever they came visiting, every ashtray in the home ended up full and the smell of nicotine lingered for days.
    No other story about the film, or people connected to it could stand up to the hilarious comments about director Sam Newfield by actor John Hart. Hart (Andy Bates) told a fanzine called "Western Clippings" that while Newfield was a wunderkind behind the camera, he was a slob at the dinner table. "He was a pig." He'd apparently eat then try to talk, but spewed food all over the place. 'He was ugly, medium in height and kinda fat. As a director, he knew his stuff, but personally, he was just awful!"
    Time went on. By the 1970s, I recall thinking that I would probably one day see the picture on the late show. When that didn't happen, I felt sure that we'd get to rent it when video was all the rage in the eighties. When that Didn't happen, I felt sure I could research the movie at the local library - surely some record would exist of this special moment. I found that it didn't and as time went on, I began to wonder why. I was to find out much later, I was certainly not alone.

The two billed stars of WOLF DOG,
Jim Davis (left) and Allison Hayes (right).
Tony Brown (left) & Allison Hayes pause in front of F.T. Hill's  to take a concerned look at Jim Davis.
The sexy Allison Hayes in profile.
Young and dashing Jim Davis gets intense.
The Hughes "woody wagon" takes its maiden drive through the village better known to thousands as "The Hub of
Grey County."
The Hughes family and their "woody" move forward, crossing in front of the old Markdale fire hall, arguably the most visible landmark in the village...