Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Werewolf of London (1935) Directed by Stuart Walker
Mrs. Moncaster: Are you a single gentleman, sir?
Dr. Wilfred Glendon: Singularly single, Madame. More single than I ever realized that it was possible for a human being to be.
An early werewolf movie this one has not quite got the mythology down pat. Dr. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) is a botanist who travels to Tibet and picks up a few exotic items. One is a specimen of the moonlight blooming Marifasa Plant, and the other is a case of lycanthrophobia. (This is actually a word, and means an irrational fear of werewolves.) At any rate, Glendon finds that when the moon is full, he undergoes a transformation.
There is hope, however. According to Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland) the juice of the Marifasa blossom is an antidote, suppressing the transformation. If only the plant can be made to bloom here on alien shores.
Glendon places the plant under a moon lamp (can you order these from Sharper Image?) and hopes for the best. But some rat b*stard steals the two blooms, and there are five nights of the full moon, and only one bud still unopened.
Glendon is very much in love with his wife, Lisa (Valerie Hobson). She loves her distant focused husband, and is very tolerant of his obsessions. However, her old beau, Paul Ames (Lester Matthews) is in the picture, and while Wilfred is pottering around with the poesies, Paul is escorting Lisa to parties.
As the transformations overcome him, poor Glendon takes to the streets, dressing warmly, because even a fur coat is not enough for London, and several deaths occur to bleached blonds of easy virtue. Can Glendon force the last bud to bloom before he kills again, this time possibly Lisa?
The movie has some comedic elements, Miss Ettie Coombes (Spring Byington) a socialite with a drinking problem, and Mrs. Moncaster and Mrs. Whack (Zeffie Tilbury and Ethel Griffies) two drunken old biddies running a rooming house. (Apparently, drunken women are amusing.) These scenes help liven what is an admittedly plodding plot. The werewolf takes a while to show up, but when he finally does, his transformation is one of the best, as he moves along a colonnade, each shift coming as he emerges from behind a pillar.
The monster is peculiarly English, remembering to put on his wrap and cap before skulking out to kill hoo-kers. I have always liked that element; the werewolf image rings truer the more tightly wound and controlled the human half is. When the deeply repressed snap, they tend to go all the way around the bend, which is a wonderful parallel to the lycanthropy myth.
There are certain elements that are just mind boggling; for instance why was Swedish born Warner Oland so often cast as an oriental? Why, after the first theft, did Glendon not move the Marifasa, or at least arm the gardener? And why did no one pick up on the fact there were two werewolves?
Still, the movie achieves a creepy air, and a feeling of tension as the man hunt is on. It is not the strongest effort by Universal, but it taught them a lot about what works in a Werewolf movie, and perhaps some of what does not.
This review, like Glendon, is Lean-N-Mean at 546 words. I am also triple dipping it with Msbunnylicious' Wicked Hallows, and Texas-Swede's Texas-Sweden Write Off, in as much as "Oriental Actor" Warner Oland was born in Sweden, and Writer John Colton Died in Gainsville, Texas.
Full Moon Theatre. Werewolves on the Silver Screen.
(0)True Blood: Season Two.(O)Wolf Moon(O)Wild Country (O)The Wolfman (2010)(O)War Wolves(O)Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection
She-Wolf of London(O)Werewolf of London(O)The Twilight Saga: New Moon(O)Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
The Wolf Man(O)Dog Soldiers(O)Wolf(O)True Blood
An American Werewolf in Paris(O)Underworld: Rise of the Lycans(O)Underworld(O)An American Werewolf in London
Silver Bullet(O)The Brothers Grimm(O)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(O)The Brotherhood of the Wolf(O)Wolves of Kromer
Read all 5 Reviews
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8