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

Monday, April 21, 2008

WEREWOLF OF LONDON


WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935). Director: Stuart Walker.

In Tibet to find a rare flower, botanist Dr. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) is bitten by a werewolf, who also seeks the flower because it can be used as an antidote for lycanthropy when the moon is full. This werewolf, Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland) follows Glendon back to London, but fails to convince him that he, too, is now a werewolf and it is crucial that they get the mysterious flower to bloom. Soon, people are being attacked by a wild animal and Glendon is tortured by what he might be doing at night. This precursor to The Wolf Man -- in that Glendon doesn't transform fully into a wolf but into a half-man/half-wolf -- is at least as good as the later film, and has some interesting elements to it. (Much more is made of the significance of the full moon than in The Wolf Man.) The acting is good, especially from Hull and Oland, but there's too much comedy relief in the film, much of it centering on Glendon's wife's vivacious aunt (Spring Byington) and two bickering landladies, even if they are delightfully played by Ethel Griffies and Zeffie Tilbury. Still some of the flavorful characters are an asset, and the film is well-paced and entertaining. Valerie Hobson is fine as Hull's pretty spouse. Nice music by Karl Hajos.

Verdict: A howling success! ***.

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