A Priceless New York Times Movie Review from a 1944 Picture

A couple of days ago, I posted a transcription of a letter from Babe that references a film that had been released only a few months earlier: “My Pal, Wolf.” He tells his parents that he hasn’t seen it — apparently in response to a question from them. I don’t have that side of the correspondence, so it’s all speculation.

I went looking for a little information about “My Pal, Wolf,” thinking it might be a thread worth pulling. What I found was the Oct. 9, 1944, review of the movie published by The New York Times. It’s delicious reading, but why would it be any different from Times’ reviews of today?

“Hollywood’s preoccupation with bringing the war into the home has reached some sort of a new high in the picture ‘My Pal, Wolf,’ which came to the Republic Saturday,” writes the Times’ critic. “The RKO drama not only brings the war into the home but it drags it right into the nursery.”

The plot of the film centers on a young girl named Gretchen, played by a Sharyn Moffett (she’s the one pictured on my previous post that mentions the movie), who feels neglected by her parents, and comes across what is apparently an AWOL German shepherd who is being trained for service in the military. She befriends the pooch, which she names Wolf, and when they must separate, drama ensues.

The Times’ reviewer, in his own imitable way, manages a compliment for the young star — though somewhat backhanded, perhaps:

“Sharyn Moffatt, the leading youngster, comes to the screen with a great deal of fanfare as a seven-year-old prodigy,” he writes, but then comes the backhand. “She does her job quite creditably, and there’s the added satisfaction that in the entire picture she neither recites nor tap dances.”

Ouch. The whole review is short, and worthy of a read.

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