Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


David Janssen
 MOON OF THE WOLF (1972 telefilm). Director: Daniel Petrie.

Louisiana sheriff Aaron Whitaker (David Janssen) investigates the murder of a young woman in his town, and there are several suspects. These include the woman's mad-at-the-world brother, Lawrence (Geoffrey Lewis), Dr. Drutan (John Beradino), who may have gotten her pregnant, the wealthy Andrew Rodanthe (Bradford Dillman), or his wife, Louise (Barbara Rush), old Tom (Royal Dano) or his son (John Chandler), among others. But the injuries make Whitaker wonder if she might have come afoul of a rabid dog -- or something worse, such as a loup garou. The performances aren't bad in this, with Rush, Lewis, Janssen, and Claudia McNeil as Sarah taking top honors, but as werewolf movies go it's fairly minor. The identity of the werewolf seems obvious almost from the first. Moon of the Wolf is very typical of the type of horror telefilms that were being churned out in the seventies; this is neither better nor worse than most.

Verdict: Not badly done for what it is but no surprises. **.


Neil A Russell said...

For anyone that wants to catch this 1970s horror flick it's available in full length format on Youtube:

I always loved those old ABC Whichever Night Movies, especially when there was a special scary one on Friday nights like this one.
I figure now that many were created as pilots for tv shows that never made it. A notable exception was "Night Stalker" that rated so high the network couldn't wait to get a sequel made and then a series cranked out.

I think the real charm of these telemovies is not just in the quality of the productions, but in the characters themselves.
One of the things that is lost to the film world is the ability to fill out movie casts with such variety as they could just a scant 40 years ago (I should really round that to 30 years ago and use as an example Blake Edwards' "SOB").

Where are all the character actors today?

Look at the cast for this throwaway movie; David Janssen, Barbara Rush, Royal Dano, Geoffrey Lewis, and that famous Harry Guardino-light: Bradford Dillman.

I don't know how they managed to leave out Keenan Wynn!

Maybe it's just the onset of age but I have a terrible time keeping up with characters in movies today, there seems to be a cookie cutter appearance code that the modern "stars" have to fit or they aren't suitable for casting.

I don't think I'm alone though, I was listening to screenwriter Josh Olsen a while back on one of his "Trailers from Hell" commentaries lamenting the same sentiment and declaring that casting was every bit as important as character development and maybe moreso.

That's not really saying much about this movie, which is thoroughly enjoyable with believable characters that don't need a mile of backstory for the audience to know how and why they are in their particular situations, you can just look at them and know immediately everything you need to know about them.

Well crap, I'm back on my character actor rant.

William said...

Good points, as usual, Neil.

I don't know how Brad Dillman would feel about being "Harry Guardino-light," LOL! I confess I've never really seen much similarity between the two. This movie did have an unusually good cast, though.

The golden age of movies had the best character actors in the world. People who graced every movie they were in and always gave solid, credible performances. Today it sometimes seems that even many of the stars aren't all that memorable!

Best, Bill

Neil A Russell said...

Ok, in fairness to the very talented Mr Dillman, I was actually thinking more in terms of the kinds of roles that were available back in the 70s.
If a movie didn't have Guardino as the engineer/police lieutenant/doctor/bad-guy, you were just as likely to see Dillman in the role.
Maybe it's the other way around!

Either way there's a serious shortage of solid characters for movies these day