Sign of the Wolf
Cast & Crew
At a major dog show, Canadian breeder Judy Weston bemoans the fierce rivalry that exists between her two Alsatian Shepherds, Shadow and Smoky. Although Smoky is her favorite and a contender for the ribbon, her employee, Ben, maintains that while Shadow may not be a champion, he is exceptionally smart. After both dogs are disqualified for fighting during the obedience competition, Judy sells Shadow to breeder Jack Martin. Ben, however, hides the dog in the back of Judy's small airplane without Judy's knowledge. During the flight back to Canada, their plane is caught in a terrible storm, and just as the sound of the two dogs whining alerts Judy to Shadow's presence, the plane crashes. While Judy and Ben are unconscious, both dogs wander out of the battered plane into the frozen wilderness. Shadow turns up at Rod Freeman's fox farm and leads Rod, his little brother Billy and his hired hand Hank to the site of the wreck. Judy and Ben are brought back to the farm to recuperate, and there, Ben tries to keep Judy from learning about her beloved Smoky's disappearance. When Rod's housekeeper, Beulah, accidentally lets it slip, Judy posts a generous reward. Meanwhile, Smoky, who has been lost in the woods, comes across Mort Gunning and "Blackie" Fargo trying to train their dog to break into the pens at fox farms and steal the valuable animals for them. After the hungry Smoky demonstrates his talent for scaling fences, the men recognize the dog from the reward posters in town, and Gunning decides to recruit him for their poaching scheme. Hoping to cash in on the reward as well, Gunning takes Smoky's collar and tags to Rod, claiming that the dog was killed by wolves. Shadow, however, detects Smoky's scent on Gunning and attacks him, and later that night, he runs away and finds the thieves' cabin. Blackie shoots at Shadow, but he gets away, and Gunning reasons that the dog will make a good scapegoat for the crimes they are about to commit. Gunning and Blackie then make the rounds of the neighboring fox farms, and Smoky captures a number of pelts for them. In town the next morning, the disgruntled breeders blame wolves for their losses, but Gunning tells them that the marauding animal is actually Shadow. The poachers strike Rod's farm just before dawn, stealing several rare foxes before Shadow escapes from the house and pursues them. Rod sets off after Shadow, only to discover two sets of boot prints in the snow. Meanwhile, word of the latest attack spreads quickly among the breeders, and they are gathered at Rod's farm when Shadow returns, carrying the body of a fox that Smoky had dropped during their struggle. The men prepare to shoot Shadow, but Billy frees him, and one of the bullets hits the boy in the arm. Rod tracks the prints to Gunning's cabin, where he discovers Smoky and fights with the poachers. With the breeders in pursuit, Shadow races toward the cabin, arriving just in time to attack Blackie as he is about to shoot Rod, and the criminals are apprehended. Judy is now well enough to resume her journey, but strong attachments have emerged within the group, and she and Rob, Ben and Beulah, and Billy and Shadow happily form pairs.
Although Tony Paton's character name is listed as "Red" onscreen, he is called "Blackie" in the film. A January 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Berne Giler was to collaborate on the screenplay with Edmond Kelso, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot on location at fox farms in Big Bear, CA.