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cast, crew and film summary of she-wolf of london - 1946

Clara Blandick
Lloyd Corrigan
Sara Haden
Dennis Hoey
Martin Kosleck
June Lockhart
Don Porter
Jan Wiley


film summary
1946’s "She-Wolf of London," a film released near the end of Universal’s classic horror run (prior to the arrival of the Creature, that is). Set in turn-of-the-century London, young heiress Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) fears she has succumbed to the ‘Allenby Curse’ after a series of grisly murders suggests the presence of a stalking she-wolf. Tormented by bizarre dreams and the inability to explain her nighttime whereabouts, Phyllis fears she has become a werewolf herself, doomed to the same fate that led to her parents’ deaths. After she breaks off her engagement to eligible Barry Lanfield (Don Porter), she cowers in her bedroom, teetering on the brink of insanity while her mysterious Aunt Martha (Sara Haden) seems to be her only ally – or is she?"

She-Wolf of London" plays more like a whodunit than a classic horror feature. Though it’s not particularly spellbinding and its resolution rather easy to deduce, it’s still a nice little film that’s generally well acted and features wonderfully moody sets. Though I’m not sure if intentional, it’s interesting to see one of the female characters draped in a hood and cape much like Red Riding Hood (certainly the most enduring werewolf story of all time). June Lockhart’s performance is simply endearing here and definitely worth viewing.

Both films are presented in full frame format and black and white. Having seen them numerous times over the years, I applaud Universal for serving up such nice looking transfers. Though they exhibit visible source damage of flecks and spots (with "She-Wolf" showing higher occurrences), they’re still very rich in detail and picture clarity, thanks to deep blacks and nicely graduated gray scales. Overall, the image is crisp and sharp though "She-Wolf" again suffers from occasional soft edges.

The audio is simple English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono that fittingly recreates that agreeable late-night din of melodramatic dialog punctuated with ominous musical cues. Thankfully, the low-level hiss and infrequent pops are hardly distracting and the audio levels remain constant save for a temporary drop-off in "Werewolf of London" at the 56:12 mark.

The disc’s extras are consistent with the other recent Universal horror double-bills: theatrical trailers, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, and some genuinely interesting production notes. And, take note that, in order to return to the film selection screen, it’s necessary to utilize your DVD remote’s ‘Title’ button.

Again, it’s nice to see Universal’s other werewolf films given the high-quality DVD treatment. Though these films aren’t the epitome of classic Universal horror, they’re definitely worthy of induction into any classic horror library. Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) is engaged to marry Barry Lanfield (Don Porter) in the next week, but a terrible illness befalls her, or at least she believes it has, that prevents her from wanting to leave her bed. After a London man reports being attacked in the park by a lady who appears to be half-beast, half-human, Phyllis wakes up the next morning and discovers that her shoes are dirty, her hands have blood on them, and she suspects that somehow she has turned into a werewolf and unknowingly attacked someone. Martha Winthrop (Sara Haden), serving as the caring aunt, comforts Phyllis and tries to convince her of her innocence, but strange events continue. Her fears deepen as authorities find a young boy dead and mangled in the park and again evidence supports the possibility of her having walked out of the house and killed the boy. Nevertheless, more sinister forces are at work in She-Wolf of London.

She-Wolf of London, a no-name movie that came to theaters shortly after the huge werewolf craze of World War II, is in fact not a horror movie at all. Its title indicates that viewers can expect to see a female werewolf, probably in London. Instead, though, the movie is only set in London, but without a werewolf. It is a murder mystery with a surprising plot twist at the end, but viewers will most likely begin to guess the final surprise before it occurs, which is not to say it is predictable. The acting in the movie is not poor or especially mediocre, though it is little above average. The plot, however, is actually somewhat intriguing. The production values seem high, even though the movie is only just more than an hour long, and the script is also fine.

Viewers who have already seen Werewolf of London (1935) will probably be wondering why Phyllis does not remember her exploits as a werewolf, if she really is one, because in previous myths the person is still aware of their own transformation. Director Jean Yarbrough uses heavy fog in the scenes at the park during the film, which is effective in creating atmosphere and mood. Also of note to film buffs, most of whom probably still have not seen She-Wolf of London considering it is not a notable or acclaimed work, cinematographer Maury Gertsman uses tilted camera angles near the end of the movie in a conversation between Phyllis and Martha. Such tilted cinematography did not become a widely embraced technique in cinema until The Third Man (1949) three years later with Orson Welles and Carol Reed directing. She-Wolf of London, despite being a letdown for anyone expecting a horror movie, is actually somewhat recommendable as it is an entertaining and pleasant hour of film, if unremarkable.