Ed Koch on wolves — the greatest tangent in the history of movie reviewing


I’m on former New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s email list. In addition to opining on public policy, he also writes movie reviews. Sometimes he does both.

Pasted below is his review of the movie “The Grey.” The fun starts in the third paragraph:


This thrilling adventure film, which takes place in Alaska, involves seven men who survive a plane crash and meet up with a pack of wolves bent on defending their patch of land against the enemy in their midst.

The most significant moment for me was when the men lit a fire and the reflecting eyes of 30 or so wolves standing a few yards away were revealed.  The guys are petrified with one exception:  Ottway (Liam Neeson).  Ottway is a professional sniper hired by oil companies to protect their properties and personnel from wolf packs.

The fear of the wolves attacking did not square with information I had received when I was mayor.  I was disgusted with the graffiti on our subway cars and suggested to the MTA Chairman at the time, Richard Ravitch, that a fence be erected around the yards where the subway cars were stored.  Dogs could be placed inside the fence to keep the vandals out.  When he objected saying the dogs might bite someone, I suggested that he use wolves.  My research revealed that while wolves would attack moose and bison, no wolf had ever attacked a human being in North America unless it was rabid.

I spoke to a New York Times reporter, Clyde Haberman, about my conversation with Ravitch.  The next day Haberman said he researched the matter and that while it was true no wolf in the wild had attacked a human being, domesticated wolves had.  I replied that I was only talking about using wild wolves and that once they became domesticated, they should be replaced.  Ravitch declined to implement my suggestion.

Now back to the film.  I don’t know if the vicious attack aspects of the wolves depicted are true, but it’s a Hollywood picture so who cares.  If you enjoy the outdoors and the test of man’s ability to survive different weather conditions and predators, this is a movie for you.  Watching these men try to survive and find a way back to civilization was exciting.  I won’t tell you who wins.

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