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dog days

dog days

Friday, July 14, 2017

Moonwolf


Moonwolf
1959
George Friedland

Wolf is a dog who has been sent into space as part of a rocket test. He was rescued as a pup by one Dr. Peter Holmes (Carl Möhner). Dr. Holmes keeps losing and being reconnected with his dog, and now finds himself once again venturing out to be reunited. Only this time he’s about to run in to someone from his past who is not happy to see him.

There’s a certain joy to be found in getting oversold on a b-movie. Posters and trailers announce that you will witness the most horrifying monster of all time, you will be so sacred that you will need to sign a waiver before you enter the theater, or HEROIC ASTRO-DOG IN OUTER SPACE. It might burn you a little the first few times, but eventually you come to adore the bravado with which these films put forth their usually cheap wares. The flip-side to this is a poster or trailer that deliberately misrepresents itself. Occasionally, this can be an artful way to catch an audience off guard; more often than not, it’s just a means to get some butts in the seats before they know what’s gone wrong.

"Look, it's a completely legitimate choice for a hat..."
I’m not sure what Moonwolf was trying to accomplish by positioning itself as a ‘dog in space’ movie. Technically, yes, there is a dog, and yes, it does go to space, but all of that happens off screen. The dog never lands on the moon. It never has a moon adventure in its little doggy space suit. Nothing. This film is only science fiction in the sense that the U.S. had not put any dogs into space in 1959 (the Russians had launched plenty at this point).

Moonwolf is actually a tepid romance story that is preceded by a tepid nature documentary of sorts. The whole thing starts out promisingly enough with Wolf being prepared for his journey into space. Once all of that is out of the way (with prerequisite stock footage of a rocket launch), we turn to Wolf’s owner, Dr. Peter Holmes reminiscing about finding Wolf as a lost puppy in the forest. He rescues the dog, loses it, and finds it again. 1950s space exploration movies aren’t without their filler (strangely enough it often comes in the form of dance sequences),  and at this point in the film I figured this was just the story killing time until we get to see what Wolf is up to in space.

Nope.

"Wolf just ate all the pieces out of the Operation game."
Instead, we jump in time to Wolf having already landed somewhere in Finland, and Dr. Homes heading out to rescue him. Is it wilderness adventure time at least? Sorry, no. Rather we are backed into an uninteresting love triangle that resolves itself just in time for about a minute of Wolf being released from his space capsule.

 Even going in with the full knowledge that Moonwolf isn’t really about a moon, or a wolf, much less both at the same time, it’s a dull disappointment.  When I first heard of the title I wondered why it wasn’t more well known, but after sitting through all 83 minutes, I know exactly why.

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