Thursday, August 18, 2011

The She-Wolf of London (1946)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: Jean Yarbrough
Starring: Don Porter, June Lockhart, Sara Haden
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Horror
Runtime: 61 minutes

Life for Barry Lanfield (Porter) and Phyllis Allenby (Lockhart) is quite simply wonderful.  The two are engaged to be married, and they could not be happier with the thought of spending the rest of their lives together.  Tragedy strikes, however, in the form of a string of gruesome murders at the local park; all the victims have their throats ripped out, and it is suspected that a wolf or other large animal is behind the killings.  Phyllis, suspects the worst, as she follows a trail of clues that point to her as the murderer, thanks to the horrible Allenby curse, which has plagued her family for generations.

Before I say anything else, I do just want to warn you all that this is not your average werewolf movie.  What I mean is, you never actually see the she-wolf of London, a woman with fur, fangs, claws, and a menacing growl.  She's always covered up by a cloak. Mysterious?  Yes.  Monstrous?  No.  So, in that respect, I guess you could say that She-Wolf of London is more of a mystery/crime film than a moster movie.  However, the plot is thrilling and engaging.  I was hooked until the very end, just wanting to figure out what was going to happen in this drama-packed film.

June Lockhart is adorable.  And her character is adorable, too.  Phyllis seems to be a female Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man), sweet, innocent, and sickened to the core over what they have become.  And just one look at Phyllis, and your heart just melts with pity.  Sadly, I felt that Don Porter slipped into the background as one of the many anonymous boyfriends from these sorts of movies that no one really remembers.  I felt the character wasn't super developed; rather, he filled a role but nothing more.  Although, to be honest, I feel as though the love interest character in most of these classic movies comes out a bit two-dimensional.  It must just be a flaw within the genre, to make the main, afflicted character more interesting, forcing them into the spotlight and giving them more dimension.

The best part of this movie (for me) had to be all the opportunities for silly interpretation.  Watch it for the first time when you're slap-happy, and it'll be hilariously funny, even the parts that are supposed to be super serious.  I have a feeling that this film, like The Werewolf of London is one of those movies that is honestly trying to be serious and dramatic (and probably was back in the 1940s), but is more silly today.  Still, all in all, it's a very good movie. I'd like to watch it again when I'm in a more sober mood.  Slap happy is fun, too, though.

This is a good film for anyone who enjoys mysteries, crime movies, or the classic Universal horror films.

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