Werewolf of London (Stuart Walker, 1935, USA)

Werewolf of London, the first Universal werewolf movie, is often overshadowed by its superior cousin - The Wolf Man - which arrived on the scene 6 years later. The film was directed by Stuart Walker, who is perhaps most often associated with producing a large number of Bulldog Drummond films throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The film tells the story of a botanist named Wilfred Glendon who goes to Tibet to find a rare flower. He is attacked by a creature there and upon returning to London, becomes a full-fledged lycanthrope. He transforms in the night and begins terrorizing the residents of London.

The film has more in common with the Jekyll and Hyde story than the usual werewolf movie. The film is generally on the lighthearted side, infusing comedy and horror together. American character actor Henry Hull does a decent job as our protagonist Wilfred Glendon. Irish actress Valerie Hobson also does a good job as his wife Lisa Glendon. Playing Dr. Yogami, the botanist who warns Wilfred that he has turned into a werewolf is actor Warner Oland. Oland was a Swedish-American actor most known for playing Chinese and Chinese-American characters including Dr. Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan. 

The film is notable for its differences from the later Wolf Man. The werewolf here appears more to be like a serial killer figure than the hulking beast we would later come to recognize him as. Also, the rules of werewolfdom have not been established here. The werewolf in Werewolf of London appears to be vulnerable to everything, not the silver bullet of mythology. Also, the film lacks the gravitas of Lon Chaney Jr.'s performance as Larry Talbot. Chaney brought a real believability to the role that is simply not on display in this film. A decent effort but nothing truly special.



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