The Savage Innocents

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The Savage Innocents
The Savage Innocents.jpg
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Maleno Malenotti
Written by Nicholas Ray
Franco Solinas
Based on Top of the World
by Hans Rüesch
Starring Anthony Quinn
Peter O'Toole
Yoko Tani
Carlo Giustini
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cinematography Peter Hennessy
Aldo Tonti
Edited by Eraldo Da Roma
Ralph Kemplen
Distributed by Pathé (Europe), Paramount Pictures (USA)
Release date
  • May 1960 (1960-05)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Italy
United Kingdom
Language English

The Savage Innocents is a 1960 film, adapted from the novel Top of the World by Swiss writer Hans Rüesch.

The screenplay was mainly written by its director, Nicholas Ray, who shot the film in the Canadian Arctic (with interiors shot in Britain's Pinewood Studios and in Rome's Cinecittà studios). The film was an international co-production, with British, Italian and French interests involved; in the United States it was released by Paramount Pictures. It was entered in the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


Inuk, an Inuk, kills a priest who rejects his traditional offer of food and his wife's company. Pursued by white policemen, Inuk saves the life of one of them, resulting in a final confrontation in which the surviving cop must decide between his commitment to law enforcement and his gratitude to Inuk.

The film's themes include Inuit survival in the extreme arctic wilderness, as well as their raw existence and struggle to maintain their lifestyle against encroaching civilization.


The film stars Anthony Quinn as Inuk the Inuk, and Japanese actress Yoko Tani, as his wife. Peter O'Toole plays a Canadian trooper. O'Toole's voice was dubbed, causing the actor to demand that his name be removed from the credits.[citation needed]

Also in the cast is restaurateur Michael Chow, who appeared in several British films from the late 1950s onwards. Chow is the brother of actress Tsai Chin, and they are the offspring of the famous Beijing Opera star Zhou Xinfang.


Eugene Archer gave the film a mixed review in The New York Times upon its 1961 release: "Most of the qualities that have made Nicholas Ray one of America's most highly praised directors abroad while leaving him relatively unpopular and unknown at home are clearly apparent in 'The Savage Innocents.'" Describing the movie as "badly cut" and "a bitter drama," Archer nonetheless found that "Mr. Ray's highly individualistic preoccupation with moral tensions expresses itself in a series of unusually provocative scenes" and concluded that this "strange, disturbing drama will leave most of its viewers dissatisfied and some outraged, but few will remain indifferent."[2]

The Mighty Quinn[edit]

Bob Dylan is widely believed to have written the song "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)" in tribute to Quinn's performance.[3]


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Savage Innocents". Retrieved 2009-02-18.
  2. ^ Eugene Archer, "Savage Innocents", 'The New York Times', 25 May 1961
  3. ^ Oliver Trager, Keys to the rain: the definitive Bob Dylan encyclopedia, Billboard Books, 2004, pp. 505–6.

External links[edit]