WOLF DOG Receives Warm Markdale Welcome! - July 6, 2007
Article and WOLF DOG SAVES THE OLDE FIRE HALL poster design, copyright Jeffrey R.P. Wilson, 2007
    "I'm not sure what I expected, but that certainly wasn't it!" These words were uttered by MIX Tap & Grill proprietor Todd McNally, whose downtown Markdale eatery hosted the July 6th WOLF DOG screenings, but the sentiment was mirrored by all of us.

     Spearheaded by WOLF DOG most famous extra, Ron Wyvill and the Markdale Chamber of Commerce, all three screenings were shown to a packed house and admission to the last (9 pm) was standing room only. As the images flickered on the screen before them, one could notice smiling onlookers with that look of recognition. Leaning to someone beside them, either pointing out someone they knew in the film, or to themselves as they looked fifty years ago.

     The 1957 B movie was filmed in Markdale under the working title of "A Boy & His Dog", but was released in the summer of 1958 under the title "WOLF DOG." This curveball, thrown by the braintrust at 20th Century Fox, meant that a lot of Markdale folk missed seeing the movie in its very brief run in moviehouses. Most townsfolk never forgot the experience, despite its nearly 50 year disappearance. It was my privilege to share some of my research before the screenings on July 6th and met many who shook my hand with appreciation that I had taken the initiative to not only find the film, but give it back to the town with whom it had initiated this unrequited love affair some 50 years ago.

     In the process, a new genre of restaurant, the "moviehouse eatery", may have been discovered! If my efforts have ended the long "WOLF DOG famine" in this village, I've achieved my goal.
    I want to point out some helping hands we got along the way toward making the screenings so successful. First of all, the Markdale Standard gave up their June 27th front page to the "Wolf Dog Saves The Olde Firehall" graphic and Jeff Wilson's press release for the event! It took all of us by complete surprise and we owe editor Lori Ledingham a debt of gratitude for the support. Matt Walls and Mary Fowler at the Dundalk/Flesherton Herald/Advance also gave us some great prominence, despite it being their Dundalk Dance Weekend issue.

     I understand some on-air coverage was given us by Bayshore Broadcasting, an Owen Sound-based radio congolmerate, with four distinct voices on your AM and FM dials. An Owen Sound-based daily newspaper, The SunTimes, printed a splendid exclusive article by Jonathon Jackson about the event Thursday, July 5th. I was impressed with Mr. Jackson's understanding of the importance of WOLF DOG to Markdale, as well as his kind tribute to the film's star, Jim Davis.

     The morning of July 6th, CBC Radio's Mary Ito interviewed Ron Wyvill for "Ontario Morning". Ron did a great job despite suffering a bad migraine and trying to function on less than 2 hours sleep. If you have a high-speed connection, you can hear his interview and view stills concerning the movie on YouTube at the following link:
WOLF DOG SCREENINGS.
Since launching this website, one of my greatest supporters has been former Markdale resident Muriel McCrabb, now of Port Elgin. Thanks Muriel! She's shown here after the 2nd screening with husband Orin. They had such a great time, they stayed for the 3rd and final screening at 9:00 pm!
    So many were able to connect to their WOLF DOG moment this day and it was a privilege to facilitate this! I want to thank Margarite Hartley, who kindly stopped by the MIX and dropped off some photographic prints of the stars, as well as some spectacular shots of the crew setting up and shooting the movie. These were posted at the restaurant's entryway for everyone to enjoy.

     Fred Peters Jr. was there to see his late father's feed store double as the Sheriff's office. Grace Kell came up to greet me and expressed her excitement in seeing herself in a scene inside a drug store reading a magazine, as Paul Hughes runs past. An attractive lady came all the way from Toronto for a chance to see Jim Davis, of whom she claims to have always been a big fan. I must say, the lady bore an uncanny resemblance to Jo Hutchings, who was Allison Hayes' extra during the filming. I feel badly now for not taking an extra second and just asking her name, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was she. And almost everyone else in attendance had their connection, which I hope was satisfied!
SUCCESSFUL FIRST SCREENING: The audience applauds, as the 3:00 pm WOLF DOG screening comes to a close. All three screenings played to full houses and it was standing room only for the 9:00 pm show!
    So what now? Well, WOLF DOG was finally seen by dozens who might otherwise never have had the chance. Plans to renovate the olde fire hall building have some hope at last. Surveys handed out by the Chamber of Commerce were filled out and all reports indicate that the response might give them all the local support they need to apply for a Trillium grant.

     I received word from Ron Wyvill this week that due to its success in July, the Chamber of Commerce is considering another screening of the movie later in the year. This is certainly good news to me, considering a couple of years ago, I was wondering if I was the only person on earth interested in this movie. I now feel my efforts were never in vain. A little ahead of the curve perhaps, but never in vain.

     I think I can speak for Ron Wyvill and say our ultimate goal is to see something done to make WOLF DOG more accessible to the general public. There are property issues and legalities to consider, but its always appeared to me that no one wants WOLF DOG, but Markdale. Therefore, I'd like to make sure THIS 'puppy' comes home....where he belongs!                                  
  ~Jeff W