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cast, crew and film summary of werewolf of london - 1946




film summary
Motivated by the enormous successes of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula," producer and Universal Pictures’ president Carl Laemmle yearned to create yet another box-office boogeyman to stand alongside Karloff and Lugosi. In 1935, Laemmle brought forth a story of ‘werewolfery’ in "The Werewolf of London." Sadly, the effort failed to establish the werewolf as the next big horror creature. It was 1941’s "The Wolf Man" that revisited and revamped the werewolf tale, successfully establishing Lon Chaney, Jr. as the definitive lycathrope thanks to Jack P. Pierce’s inventive makeup and Curt Siodmak’s convincing legend of the man who transforms into a wolf under the light of the full moon. And like it’s monstrous brethren, "The Wolf Man" scared up impressive ticket sales and became Universal’s next sequel-spawning incarnation.

It’s unfortunate and even a bit puzzling that "Werewolf of London" wasn’t successful in its aspirations, typically causing it to be overlooked by the more casual genre fan. It’s the well-crafted story of high-brow botanist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) who is attacked and bitten by a werewolf while searching in Tibet for the exotic and fabled Marifasa Lupino Lumino, a flower that blooms only in the moonlight. Back in London with the flower, Glendon himself becomes a werewolf, tortured by the transformations and the ensuing murders he commits. Desperate for answers, he finds himself confronted by the odd and all-too-knowledgeable Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland) who warns Glendon that the werewolf "instinctively seeks to kill the thing it loves best." But who is Yogami and why is he equally fascinated with the Marifasa bloom, purported to be the only known antidote for such beastly transformations?

"Werewolf of London" is a very cleverly scripted and well-photographed film. Combining a biting dose of upper-class wit and sarcasm with some very evocative camera setups and movement, the film sustains an enjoyable and compelling pace. Though some have criticized the general un-hairiness of Hull’s werewolf, I find it to be appropriately suited to his balanced portrayal of Glendon’s inner conflict between the savage urges of a predatory beast juxtaposed by his own human reasoning and compassion. And, without question, he’s still rather frightening to behold. For relief, viewers will enjoy the inebriated antics of the two cockneyed biddies, Mrs. Whack and Mrs. Moncaster, reminiscent of Una O’Connor’s shrill role in "Bride of Frankenstein."