Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: "Werewolf of London" a Precursor to "The Wolf Man"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 192 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Werewolf of London (1935) – B&W
Running time: 75 minutes
DIRECTOR: Stuart Walker
WRITERS: John Colton; from a story by Robert Harris
PRODUCERS: Stanley Bergerman and Carl Laemmle, Jr. (neither credited onscreen)
EDITORS: Russell Schoengarth with Milton Carruth (no screen credit)


Starring: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Lawrence Grant, Spring Byington, Clark Williams, J.M. Kerrigan, Charlotte Granville, Ethel Griffies, Zeffie Tilbury, and Jeanne Bartlett

Botanist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) traveled to Tibet in hopes of finding the marisphasa lupina lumina – the phosphorescent wolf flower – a rare flower that only blooms by moonlight. Exploring a mysterious valley, Glendon finds the flower, but a strange hollowing creature attacks and bites him while he is excavating the flower from the earth. Glendon survives the attack and returns to his home in London, Glendon Manor, where he has a laboratory, and where his lovely wife, Lisa “Lee” Glendon (Valerie Hobson) awaits him. Studying the marisphasa takes up much of Glendon’s time, leaving his poor wife to entertain alone… that is until an old flame, Captain Paul Ames (Lester Matthews) of Scotland Yard, arrives.

Meanwhile, Glendon receives a visit from a mysterious scientist, Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland), who insists upon seeing the marisphasa. Glendon refuses to share the object of his intense analysis, but Yogami leaves him with vague warnings about the marisphasa’s connection to “werewolfery.” Glendon dismisses that as superstition until a series of werewolf attacks occurs in London, and Glendon realizes that he is the werewolf. The only thing that can cure Glendon is the rare Tibetan flower he found, the marisphasa, but will it bloom before he takes more lives? And will he learn why Yogami wants the plant so badly?

Werewolf of London was Universal Pictures’ first foray into the werewolf movie, predating their classic flick, The Wolf Man, by six years, and Werewolf of London is certainly a template for the later flick – including the basis for the iconic image of Lon Chaney, Jr. as the “Wolf Man.” In fact, the wolf man make up that Lon Chaney, Jr. wore in his seminal role was created by Universal Pictures makeup designer Jack P. Pierce for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London. However, Hull reportedly didn’t want to wear it because it was too time-consuming to be applied to his face, and Pierce designed the more streamlined and less hairy “wolf man” look that Hull wore in Werewolf of London.

Although this movie has some good moments, it is thoroughly a B-movie with professional acting, but no standout performances, except for a few roles that act as comic relief. The best things about Werewolf of London are the werewolf transformation scenes and monster makeup, which gives the film a more tragic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tone.

5 of 10

Writers not receiving screen credit: Harvey Gates and Robert Harris on the adaptation and Edmund Pearson as a contributing writer.

Monday, September 04, 2006



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