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Wolf (1994 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Nichols
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Wolf: A False Memoir 
by Jim Harrison
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Edited by Sam O'Steen
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 17, 1994 (1994-06-17)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $131 million[1]

Wolf is a 1994 American romantic horror film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Kate Nelligan, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Plummer, Eileen Atkins, David Hyde Pierce and Om Puri. It was written by Jim Harrison and Wesley Strick, and an uncredited Elaine May. Music was composed by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. It is based on Harrison's 1971 debut novel Wolf: A False Memoir.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reaction 4
    • Box office 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Awards and nominations 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Will Randall is bitten by a wolf while driving home in Vermont. Afterwards, he is demoted from editor-in-chief of a publishing house when it is taken over by tycoon Raymond Alden, who replaces him with Will's protégé Stewart Swinton. When Will thinks that his wife Charlotte is having an affair with Stewart, he rushes over to his house where Stewart sees Will angry and asks him what the problem is. Will bites Stewart and rushes upstairs to the room to find Charlotte half-naked. His worst fears are confirmed. Will becomes more aggressive, taking on the characteristics of a wolf.

With the help of Alden's headstrong daughter Laura, Will sets out for his new life. His first escapade as a werewolf takes place at Laura's estate, where he wakes up at night and hunts down a deer. In the morning, Will finds himself on the bank of a stream, with blood all over his face and hands. He visits Dr. Vijav Alezais, who gives him an amulet to protect him from turning completely into a wolf. Alezais asks Will to bite him, as Alezais does not have long to live and would prefer "demonization to death". After refusing, Will keeps the amulet so that he will not transform at the next full moon. Calling Laura to explain, Will, now a werewolf, breaks into the zoo and steals handcuffs from a policeman. Muggers want his wallet, but he attacks and bites the fingers off of one of them. He wakes up in his hotel, with no memory of what happened.

Will outmaneuvers Stewart at their work and fires him, urinating on his shoes in a bathroom and claiming he is "marking his territory". While washing his hands, he finds fingers in his handkerchief and realizes he has attacked and wounded someone. Stewart attempts to frame Will in order to seize his job back. Detective Bridger knocks on Will's door the next day to deliver him the news that Charlotte was found dead with canine DNA on her body. Will then wonders if he murdered Charlotte, but he does not know it was Stewart who killed her.

Believing Will is a murderer, Laura goes to the police station. There she runs into Stewart, who makes an animal-like pass at her while sporting increasingly obvious werewolf traits. Laura hurries away, making arrangements for her and Will to leave the country. Stewart follows Laura back to her father's estate and kills two guards. After a brief struggle in the barn, Stewart attempts to rape her, Will intervenes, and the two fight. Stewart is shot to death by Laura. After he returns to his human state, Will has a brief moment with Laura and then runs into the forest.

Minutes later, Laura shows heightened senses when the police arrive, telling Bridger that she can smell vodka on his breath. The final scene is a close-up of her face fading into dark, wolf eyes, and a close up of Will completing his transformation into a full werewolf.



Mia Farrow was an early contender for the role of Charlotte Randall, but was apparently considered too controversial a choice by the film company due to the then-current Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn affair.[2]

Sharon Stone turned down the role of Laura Alden, eventually played by Michelle Pfeiffer.[2]

The film's release was delayed for six to eight months, in order to reshoot the poorly received ending.[2]


Box office

Wolf grossed $65 million domestically and $66 million internationally, for a total of $131 million worldwide.[1]

Critical response

Wolf holds a score of 61% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 reviews.[3]

Janet Maslin in the New York Times wrote, "So long as it stays confined to the level of metaphor, as it does in the first hour of Wolf, this idea really is irresistible."[4] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote,"Wolf is both more and less than a traditional werewolf movie. Less, because it doesn't provide the frankly vulgar thrills and excesses some audience members are going to be hoping for. And more, because Nicholson and his director, Mike Nichols, are halfway serious about exploring what might happen if a New York book editor did become a werewolf".[5] Hal Hinson in the Washington Post wrote, "In its own delightfully peculiar way, the film is the only one of its kind ever made – a horror film about office politics ... The movie isn't wholly great; it starts to unravel just after the midway point. Still, there are charms enough all the way through to make it the most seductive, most enjoyable film of the summer".".[6] Peter Travers in Rolling Stone called it "a rapturous romantic thriller with a darkly comic subtext about what kills human values".[7] Desson Howe in The Washington Post wrote that it "works beautifully when it's rooted in reality, when the Werewolf Thing functions as a multiple metaphor for unleashed-id sexuality and the law of the corporate jungle"[8] Todd McCarthy in Variety wrote, "The studio must convince the horror/special-effects crowd to attend a Jack Nicholson / Michelle Pfeiffer / Mike Nichols picture and persuade the film-makers' fans to see a genre pic... But no matter how snazzy the trappings, when you get down to it, this is still, at heart, a werewolf picture".[9] Time Out wrote, "Quite frankly, it's hard to fathom why exactly anyone would have wanted to make this slick, glossy, but utterly redundant werewolf movie... Overall, this is needlessly polished nonsense: not awful; just toothless, gutless and bloodless."[10]

Awards and nominations

Wolf won a Saturn Award for Best Writing for Jim Harrison and Wesley Strick's screenplay, and it was nominated for a further 5 Saturn Awards, in the categories of Best Horror Film, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Michelle Pfeiffer), Best Supporting Actor (James Spader) and Best Make-up (Rick Baker).

Ennio Morricone was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television.

Awarding Body Award Nominee Result
Grammy Awards Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or Television Ennio Morricone nomination
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film nomination
Best Actor Jack Nicholson nomination
Best Actress Michelle Pfeiffer nomination
Best Supporting Actor James Spader nomination
Best Writing Jim Harrison, Wesley Strick winner
Best Make-up Rick Baker nomination


  1. ^ a b "Wolf (1994)".  
  2. ^ a b c "Wolf (1994) - Trivia". Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  3. ^ Wolf at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  4. ^ Maslin, Janet (June 17, 1994). "Movie Review - Wolf - Review/Film; Wolf Bites Man, Man Sheds His Civilized Coat". 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 17, 1994). "Wolf :: :: Reviews". 
  6. ^ Hinson, Hal (June 17, 1994). Wolf' (R)"'". 
  7. ^ Travers, Peter (July 14, 1994). "Wolf : Review : Rolling Stone". 
  8. ^ Howe, Desson (June 17, 1994). Wolf' (R)"'". 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Todd (June 13, 1994). "Wolf Review". 
  10. ^ "Wolf Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Retrieved 2009-11-19. 

External links

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