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DVD cover

Never Cry Wolf (film) is a 1983 American drama film directed by Carroll Ballard ("The Black Stallion", "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture", "Wind"). The film is a screen version of Farley Mowat's 1963 autobiography of the same name. Stars Charles Martin Smith as a government biologist sent to the North to study caribou population, whose decline is believed to be caused by wolves, even though no one has seen a wolf kill a caribou.

The narration for the film was written by Charles Martin Smith, Eugene Corr and Christina Luescher.


Based on a memoir by Farley Mowat, it tells about adventures of a Canadian biologist named Tyler (Charles Martin Smith) who is sent to the Arctic to study wolves and find out whether or not they’re killing off herds of caribou. On the journey north, he begins to realize the importance of what he is about to do – live alone for a whole summer in a harsh wilderness, hundreds of miles from civilization.

Contact with his quarry comes quickly, as he discovers not a den of marauding killers, but a courageous family of skillful providers and devoted protectors of their young. Tyler is helped by two Inuit who tell him their own stories about the wolves. As Tyler learns more and more about the wolf world he comes to fear, along with them, the onslaught of hunters (Brian Dennehy) out to kill the wolves for their pelts and exploit the wilderness.


  • Charles Martin Smith as Tyler, a biologist, who had to study wolves.
  • Brian Dennehy as Rosie, the bush-pilot.
  • Zachary Ittimangnaq as Ootek, an Inuit who helps Tyler survive the wilderness.
  • Samson Jorah as Mike
  • Hugh Webster as Drunk
  • Martha Ittimangnaq as Woman
  • Tom Dahlgren as Hunter #1
  • Walker Stuart as Hunter #2


Never Cry Wolf combines the documentary film style and the narrative elements of drama, resulting in a type of docudrama. It was originally written for the screen by Sam Hamm but the screenplay was remade over time and Hamm ended up sharing credit with Curtis Hanson and Richard Kletter.

Filming locations

The film was located in such places as Nome, Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and British Columbia, Canada.



When Never Cry Wolf was released, a review in the Los Angeles Times appeared calling it "...subtle, complex and hypnotic...triumphant filmmaking!"

Dave Kehr, a Top Critic in Chicago Reader considers the film to be memorable: "The film is still memorable for its compassion, commitment, and unexpected humor, qualities that go a long way toward tempering the ecological didacticism of the screenplay."

TV Guide's Movie Guide gave the film a very positive review and wrote, "Capturing the changes a man goes through as he learns about life in the wilds, Never Cry Wolf is very informative, but it is Smith's performance that makes the film a resounding success."



  • Boston Society of Film Critics Awards: 4th BSFC Award; Best Cinematography, Hiro Narita; 1984.
  • Motion Picture Sound Editors: Golden Reel Award; Best Sound Editing - Sound Effects; 1984.
  • Hawaii International Film Festival: Excellence in Cinematography Award, Hiro Narita; 1984.
  • Western Heritage Awards: Bronze Wrangler; Theatrical Motion Picture, Carroll Ballard; 1984.


  • Academy Awards: Best Sound; Alan Splet, Todd Boekelheide, Randy Thom and David Parker; 1984.


  1. NNDB/Soylent Communications
  2. "Charles Martin Smith interview". Official John Carpenter web site.
  3. "The 56th Academy Awards (1984) Nominees and Winners".
  4. "Never Cry Wolf". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. Never Cry Wolf'.

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