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Werewolf of London (1935)

Valerie Hobson plays wife to another madman (she performs the same task in Bride of Frankenstein, also 1935). She's certainly more assertive here, only putting up with Henry Hull's experiments to a certain degree, accompanied by his demands and orders to placate his jealousy over an old school friend come to visit who is taken on an affection for his devoted wife. Meanwhile he is going through Jekyll-and-Hyde transformations brought on by a wolf bite while visiting Tibet. The only thing keeping his disease in check are the blooms of a rare flower, and fellow werewolf sufferer Warner Oland appears, wanting the flower to subdue his own appetites when the night falls. Unfortunately for the two men, there are hardly any blooms left...

It is an old film with all of the creeky stylistic tics of that era in Universal monster movies. What brings the film charm are the gloomy melancholies of the script, Warner Oland and Henry Hull talking over their problem which binds them together, but Hull won't accept, and the pretty Valerie Hobson. There are unintentionally funny moments, like Henry Hull transforming into a wolfman and rushing to get outside, but pausing like a reasonable Englishman to throw on a scarf before going into the foggy night air.

A dry run for the Lon Chaney Jr version six years late (Universal again, "The Wolfman"), which gets down to the business of lycanthropy faster and with more panache.

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Into the Dark - The Hidden World of Film Noir 1941-1950

Original Page Dec 27, 2009 | Updated Jan 2014

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