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Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Study in Classic Horror- SHE-WOLF OF LONDON (1946)

Not bad for a film with a premise based on a red herring. You see; it’s painfully obvious the filmmakers wanted the audience to think this was a werewolf movie. There’s the deceptive title, of course, and words like “werewolf”, “lycanthropy” and “curse” are sprinkled liberally throughout the screenplay, but, and consider this a spoiler warning if you need to, no werewolf ever shows up. I even wonder if after Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula’s Daughter Universal was looking for a third female counterpart for its major monsters. The truth is: it may be better to enter this film knowing, as I did, that there’s no monster, or it may be more of a disappointment. It’s really a simple murder mystery with suggestions of the supernatural, and while it’s quite predictable and full of clichés and one-dimensional characters it still manages to be somewhat suspenseful.

The main thrust of the story is that mysterious attacks and deaths are occurring in a London park that is conveniently located adjacent to Scotland Yard and the stately Allenby house. Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) is engaged to Barry Lanfield (Don Porter). Phyllis, the last of the Allenby line lives with her Aunt Martha (Sara Haden) and cousin Carol (Jan Wiley), relatives in affectionate terms only, who stand to po

ssibly lose their residence in the house should Phyllis marry and go to live with Barry. As the attacks continue, Phyllis begins to suspect she has succumbed to the Allenby family’s werewolf curse of legend and that she’s taken to prowling the park at night for victims. She soon calls off her engagement, not wanting to burden Barry with her curse.

I doing my best to avoid spoilers here, but I think even the plot threads mentioned above may easily lead someone to figure out who the real killer is, so I’ll leave it at that and just say that somehow it succeeds in the execution. Even though the characters (which also include Lloyd Corrigan as the standard blundering police inspector and Eily Malyon as the meddling housekeeper) are basically archetypes, the actors still manage to breathe a bit of life into them. Sara Haden is particular good as the mysterious Aunt Martha. As for the leading lady, I think Phyllis could have been written better. June Lockhart’s acting is fine, but she spends most of the movie lamenting from her bed waiting to be rescued.

In the end: a monster movie it’s not, but for a murder mystery, it’s a nice effort, even if it won’t keep you guessing until the end.


This week’s supporting features:

Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd in To Duck… or Not to Duck (1943)

The Our Gang short Hook and Ladder (1932)

Next time:

The Inner Sanctum mystery Weird Woman (1944) starring Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers, and Ralph Morgan

1 comment:

  1. That's always bugged me about this film. Seems like it was an attempt to cash in on the classic movie monster via the title.

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