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Author Topic: Werewolf of London (1935)  (Read 6290 times)
Kooshmeister
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« on: August 01, 2007, 01:36:38 AM »

Anyone else seen and liked this mostly overlooked classic werewolf film starring Henry Hull and Warner Oland? It's not as iconic as 1941's The Wolf Man but it's still a fairly enjoyable little thriller for the time. Although it was released on DVD alongside the equally underappreciated She-Wolf of London and as part of the Wolf Man Legacy Collection DVD, I'd kill to see it get a DVD release all its own with a documentary about the making of the movie.

The protagonist, Wilfred Glendon (played by Hull), is kind of an anti-social dickwad (remember what I said about Peter Forbes-Robertson's reclusive scientist character in Island of Terror?  BounceGiggle), but he's in a sympathetic situation and doesn't seem to intentionally be a paranoid asswipe at least. He just can't help himself. And Dr. Yogami, thanks to Oland's performance, manages to become a very nuanced character and avoid being an "evil Asian" stereotype. In fact he's not a stereotype at all. He does wind up being the villain at the end, but only because Glendon was such an uncooperative ass with him like he is with everyone else. If Glendon had cooperated with Yogami and shared the mariphasa with him disaster could have been averted.

Speaking of which, I also like the idea of the herbal remedy to lycanthropy. The movie's almost wholly scientific approach to the problem of werewolfism (werewolfery?) is pretty refreshing, I thought.

I also really like the subplots involving the supporting characters, particularly Wilfred's wife Lisa and her old boyfriend Paul Ames. You really get the sense that Lisa and Wilfred's marriage was an arranged one, and although she doesn't hate Wilfred, she much rather would've wound up with Paul, who was her childhood friend. Wilfred, for his part, genuinely cares about Lisa, but he's just incapable of properly expressing his emotions, and also acts a little too possessive at times (which winds up biting him in the ass when he forbids her from going out riding with Paul, in order to keep her safe, but she misunderstands this as him being a controlling dick like always and goes anyway). Paul himself is also a fun character, and I genuinely believed from Lester Matthews and Valerie Hobson's performances onscreen together that Paul and Lisa had, genuinely, been close friends since childhood.

And speaking as someone who dislikes Una O'Connor's antics in films such as Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, I have to say it's surprising that I not only didn't mind the comic relief side characters of Mrs. Moncaster and Mrs. Whack, but actually chuckled a few times at their scenes, particularly when they keep knocking one another out.

Anyway, what does everyone else here think of the movie?
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RCMerchant
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 06:14:45 AM »

Hell yeah! Thumbup There was an alternate makeup for Hull, which looked alot like the Chaney version,but it was changed for the one used. A lot of old Universal horrors are overlooked in favor of the biggies...like SON of DRACULA,DRACULA's DAUGHTER,and the MUMMY's HAND.
  Another mostly forgotton werewolf flick to watch for is the UNDYING MONSTER(1942), a nice atmospheric little movie.
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2007, 08:47:18 PM »

I love those old overlooked Horror flix, including this one.  It's odd this one is so rarely seen and not well known.  It's cited in many books, including that great werewolf fight...I think it's superior in story to THE WOLFMAN (1941) but that latter film is quite loveable. 
Doesn't one of the old crones eat her kerchief with her tripe??? 
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Raffine
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2007, 09:49:00 PM »

Quote
Doesn't one of the old crones eat her kerchief with her tripe??? 


She actually eats her tripe tangled up in the veil on her hat.  SHe complains her tripe is too tough.

There's another great old Cockney crone at the bar who orders "Two drinks for two ladies." She then anounces "I'm the both of 'em!". And there's the great Spring Byington as the drunken aunt, with that line "I simply jitter to go to Java." This movie has got to have the highest per capita of drunken old ladies than any film in history.

The transformation scenes I think are at times more interesting and done more imaginatively than the time lapse effect used for Chaney's Wolf Man. At one point they use the old "red make up and red filter" trick to make Hull's face change without stopping the camera. My favorite werewolf transformation has Hull passing behind several pillars as he becomes more wolf-like.

WEREWOLF OF LONDON, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE and THE OLD DARK HOUSE are great examples of 'forgotten' Universal horror films.
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2007, 10:30:15 PM »

Quote
Doesn't one of the old crones eat her kerchief with her tripe??? 

She actually eats her tripe tangled up in the veil on her hat.  SHe complains her tripe is too tough.
Yes, of course, the veil on her hat and "it's tough..."  yuk, that scene grosses me out. 

WEREWOLF OF LONDON, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE and THE OLD DARK HOUSE are great examples of 'forgotten' Universal horror films.
THE OLD DARK HOUSE is not forgotten by me!   TeddyR  I get your point (the top of your head is sharp...)  TeddyR
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2007, 06:58:02 PM »

 YA! Found iton MonsterKids.com....the original test design for the WEREWOLF of LONDON!!!! Jack Pierce,of course!



...and of course,the one used...

           
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\"Supernatural?...perhaps. Baloney?...Perhaps not!\" Bela Lugosi-the BLACK CAT (1934)


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Torgo
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2007, 07:24:55 PM »

Warren Zevon popped into my head when I saw the title of this thread.
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Bela
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2007, 07:33:30 PM »

Warren Zevon popped into my head when I saw the title of this thread.

" ...His Hair was Purple! OW-WOOOO!"  TeddyR
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\"Supernatural?...perhaps. Baloney?...Perhaps not!\" Bela Lugosi-the BLACK CAT (1934)


Interviewer-"Does Dracula ever end for you?"
Lugosi-"No. Dracula-never ends."





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Raffine
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2007, 10:34:46 PM »

Quote
THE OLD DARK HOUSE is not forgotten by me!     I get your point (the top of your head is sharp...) 


And I can even wear half an orange peel like a cap, just like Zip the Pinhead!

Looking back it's amazing how much humor was in most of the 30's Universal horror movies. THE MUMMY (1932) is about the only one I can think of offhand that had no "comedy relief".

THE OLD DARK HOUSE also has two of the creepiest moments in any film: Rebecca Femm's "That's fine stuff" speech, and the look on Saul's face when we realize he reall is insane.
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Kooshmeister
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2007, 01:04:35 AM »

YA! Found iton MonsterKids.com....the original test design for the WEREWOLF of LONDON!!!! Jack Pierce,of course!





Eeew, don't hit me or anything but I actually prefer the one they wound up using. He looks like a wild boar there.
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2007, 08:16:13 PM »

Looking back it's amazing how much humor was in most of the 30's Universal horror movies. THE MUMMY (1932) is about the only one I can think of offhand that had no "comedy relief".

THE OLD DARK HOUSE also has two of the creepiest moments in any film: Rebecca Femm's "That's fine stuff" speech, and the look on Saul's face when we realize he reall is insane.

THE OLD DARK HOUSE started quite a discussion on the old SCIFILM.ORG board, with much commentary (I was the one who suggested it had been "overlooked" and can still defend the case!  The point being that I can understand your comment about "forgotten!")  However, THE OLD DARK HOUSE had worked its way into the mainstream some time ago and is not as obscure as it was 30 or 40 years ago when I was reading FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine!   TeddyR 
That being said, the scene you cite is the most intriguing in the film, with many cutaways and odd shots, but mainly because of Rebecca Femm's speech and the fact that she touches Gloria Stuart on her breast!!!  I think we see this in silhouette shadow and again later (my memory is not so nearly reliable as it once was) ...a real jaw-dropping moment as I recall!  Did you notice that Sir Roderick Femm was played by "John Dudgeon?"  He was actually played by Elspeth Dudgeon, who is better remembered as the old gypsy crone in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN who wants her "pepper and salt !" by the campfire... 
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Bela
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2007, 08:40:12 PM »

 Here Ya go! Smile

 [youtube=425,350]
Small | Large


     
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\"Supernatural?...perhaps. Baloney?...Perhaps not!\" Bela Lugosi-the BLACK CAT (1934)


Interviewer-"Does Dracula ever end for you?"
Lugosi-"No. Dracula-never ends."





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BoyScoutKevin
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« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2007, 04:03:11 PM »

While there was at least one silent werewolf film made before this one, this was the first werewolf film made with sound. Whether it is for this reason, or I just like to see Henry Hull and Warner Oland battle  it out, this is one werewolf film that I enjoy.
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Kooshmeister
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2007, 01:06:25 AM »

I just got the novelization of the film through the mail. It's odd, as most novelizations are written and printed around the time the movie comes out. This one, though, was written in 1977 by Ramsey Campbell, under the pen name of "Carl Dreadstone," and released as part of a series of novelizations of the old Universal monster movies (others, also by Campbell/Dreadstone, included The Mummy, Dracula's Daughter, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Creature From the Black Lagoon).

The book has proven an interesting read, to say the least. Most movie novelizations, being based on the scripts, follow more or less the exact same story structure as the films with a few changes here and there, but Dreadstone's novel defies this. The story is told entirely from the point of view of Wilfred Glendon (although his first name is now inexplicably spelled "Wilfrid"), which of course allows for absolutely no cutaways to other scenes involving other characters, therefore very nearly the entire structure of the story had to be redone. In particular, the bulk of the tale is told in flashback, as we have a wraparound prologue and epilogue involving Glendon sitting alone in his bedroom reflecting on his life over the past year (the story occurs over several months rather than a week as in the film).

The first couple of chapters are similar to the movie. We get Glendon and his friend Hugh Renwick adventuring in Tibet, Glendon finds the Mariphasa plant, and is attacked and bitten by a creature he thinks is a Yeti (in an apparent nod to Hammer's The Abominable Snowman, there's an extended sequence of Glendon and Renwick on their climb, discussing the possibility of the existence of Yetis), after which Glendon returns home to England and we get the scene of him attending a garden party with Lisa where he meets (and instantly dislikes) Paul Ames. But the whole of the story changes drastically from there.

/////////////////SPOILERS!!!!!!/////////////////

Rather than meeting Dr. Yogami at the party, Glendon receives a telegram from him and goes to visit him at the house where he's staying, and unlike in the movie, there is no mystery over whether or not Yogami himself is a werewolf. He admits it to Glendon on their first meeting, because he has heard of Glendon's success at acquiring the Mariphasa and wishes to share it with him. Unlike in the movie, Yogami is also not the werewolf who bit Glendon in Tibet. Later on, we get Yogami's backstory which includes the revelation that in that particular valley there lives a colony of werewolves who wish to keep the Mariphasa all to themselves and look upon normal, uncursed humans who enter their domain with hatred and will attack them without provocation, which is what happened to Glendon. Glendon however refuses to share the plant with Yogami, which of course leads to Yogami, in desperation, stealing two flowers from it, which leads to Glendon's full-on transformation for the first time.

Since the book is told entirely from Glendon's point of view, it's interesting to be able to know his innermost thoughts, and how lycanthropy (at least according to Dreadstone) affects the mind. Glendon notes a change in the tone of his voice, the fact he is becoming increasingly more tempermental, even towards his friends and family, and, interestingly, begins to feel "unclean," and furthermore that by touching others he is somehow contaminating them with his uncleanliness. As a result, he takes to avoiding Lisa for fear of angering her with his unintentional short temper or "contaminating" her with his imagined (and possibly spiritual) uncleanliness, which of course only makes himself look like a total dickwad. So, anyone who's seen the movie and thinks Glendon is an unsympathetic jerk ought to think about tracking down Dreadstone's novel, as it offers a tremendous amount of (admittedly non-canonical) insight into his character.

Other ways Glendon's ailment affects his mind is that of course he begins to have a considerably more wolfish thought process. He starts longing for the company of others like himself, but his practical mind keeps trying to focus on staving off his transformations and when they do happen, to find a way of either avoiding killing anyone, or killing someone as quickly as possible to just get it over with, because, in this book at least, the moment the wolfed-out Glendon kills someone, he'll return to human form. His attitude towards Yogami is a mixed one. On the one hand, he is angry with Yogami for stealing the flowers, and views him as competition for the remaining ones, but the wolfish part of him sees in Yogami (who is said to be of Japanese descent in the book, by the way) a kinship, and on more than one occasion has fantasies of the two, once fully transformed, on the hunt together and forming their own little wolfpack of sorts.

Another side effect of telling the story entirely from Glendon's point of view is that characters like Paul Ames and Colonel Forsythe, major supporting characters in the film, are pushed to the sidelines. Paul exists merely as someone for Glendon to glower at occasionally, and Forsythe appears in only one scene, at a dinner darty.

Also included in the novel is a subplot that I had heard was originally going to be in the movie but got cut out. Actor Reginald Barlow was scheduled to play a medical doctor named Dr. Phillips whom Glendon seeks help from. But it was felt that reaching out for help violated Glendon's solitary nature, so the Phillips character was excised (Barlow does appear in the film, though, albeit in a different role). Dreadstone's novel restores this subplot, but for some reason changes Phillips' name to "Payne." Glendon confides in Payne about his condition, but never actually calls it lycanthropy, dancing around the issue for fear of sounding insane. Payne notes the odd symptoms and can't deny that there is something terribly, terribly wrong with his patient, but can find no way of helping him, so he sends him to a "specialist," a man named Sir James who maintains a psychiatric hospital. But Sir James turns out to be a total condescending asswipe of a man that he winds up being the only character in the novel Glendon actually deliberately kills.

Of course, technically, he deliberately kills every one of his victims, but what I mean is, he becomes a different person once wolfed-out, and while still human and in control of his emotions he'll do everything he can to get away from someone before transforming - he even considers arming his lab assistant Haskins (Hawkins in the film) with a pistol, so Haskins will have protection against his boss should Glendon encounter him while transformed, which was a nice touch. However, he takes such an intense dislike to jerkweed Sir James that Glendon actually convinces the guy to come over to his house on the full moon so he'll kill him once transformed.

Ah, but you say, didn't he deliberately attack Yogami while still human in the movie, and transform whilst they fought? This is true. But the book has a completely different ending for the Yogami character. Rather than try to steal the Mariphasa flowers again and wind up killed by his rival werewolf for his troubles, Yogami approaches Glendon again with an offer of cooperation between them. However Glendon's Mariphasa has inexplicably died, so he and Yogami agree to return to Tibet to get more. They can't leave just yet, though, as the next full moon is upon them by this point, and neither wants to transform while on board a plane full of innocent passengers, so they try to come up with a way of preventing themselves from killing anyone until then. Glendon then hits on the idea of hypnotism, so he and Yogami visit a hypnotist and have him put them into a deep sleep on the night of the full moon, hoping they'll remain asleep when transformed.

It doesn't work, and upon transforming they both awake. Yogami kills the hypnotist, then he and Glendon fight to the death, both in werewolf form. Glendon wins and kills Yogami. He then returns to human form and goes home, taking the hypnotist's gun with him. The novel then concludes with Glendon alive, but contemplating shooting himself rather than continue living a life under the constant threat of transforming without being able to get to a Mariphasa flower in time.

/////////////////END SPOILERS!!!!!!/////////////////

So, a good book all-around, and dare I say somewhat better than the actual film, although I'll never stop loving the film of course. The book is, needless to say, long out of print, but if you can track down a copy, and you like the movie, I reccommend buying the book.
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BoyScoutKevin
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2007, 10:22:43 AM »

Yeah, I have a couple of those books, too. I think it's the novelization for "Bride of Frankenstein" and "The Mummy." Those were the only two I got, because I was interested in Boris Karloff at that time, and those were the only two that featured Karloff. Now, I kick myself for not getting all of them, when I could. I think I remember "Dracula's Daughter" and "The Wolfman" being the other two books in the series.

Maybe somebody who knows all the titles in the series can poste them here.
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