She-Wolf of London (1946)

Technical Specs

Director: Jean Yarbrough

Writer: George Bricker

Cast: Don Porter, June Lockhart, Sara Haden, Jan Wiley, Lloyd Corrigan, Dennis Hoey, Martin Kosleck, Eily Malyon, and Frederick Worlock

Composer: William Lava

Release Date: 5/17/1946

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

 

Overview

When a string of grisly murders are committed in a London park, Detective Latham (Lloyd Corrigan) of Scotland Yard speculates that a werewolf may be on the she-wolf-of-londonprowl. Believing herself a victim of the Allenby Curse, disturbed young woman Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart) assumes responsibility for the crimes in question; however, caretaker Martha Winthrop (Sara Haden) and her daughter Carol (Jan Wiley) reject the werewolf theory while harboring suspicions of their own. Meanwhile, Phyllis’ fiancé Barry Lanfield (Don Porter) and housekeeper Hannah (Eily Maylon) investigate the matter in greater detail.

A flawed but occasionally captivating murder mystery, She-Wolf of London will appeal to fans of the psychological thriller genre. That being said, those who enjoy classic monster films may wish to avoid this deceptively entitled movie.

 

Pros

she-wolf-of-londonWhile hunting for the perpetrator, Inspector Pierce (Dennis Hoey) and his detectives patrol a nearby park covered in a thick layer of atmospheric mist—a defining aspect of Universal Studios’ early horror productions. An eerie combination of dimly lit surroundings and nighttime fog becomes most effective when Detective Latham is mauled by a cloaked woman (or she-wolf), whose animalistic growling and snarling will, through suggestion alone, disgust viewers of a sensitive inclination.

Though too slow-moving to maintain a satisfactory level of suspense, She-Wolf of London compensates for a lack of tension by highlighting the exceptional performances of a remarkable cast. June Lockhart’s embodiment of emotional and psychological distress following the initial murders should be commended in particular, especially consideringshe-wolf-of-london that Phyllis’ torment can be construed either as mental derangement (i.e. lycanthropy) or as a more rational sense of guilt that would plague any real but conflicted monster.

When Aunt Martha is introduced, audiences may have additional difficulty determining whether the so-called werewolf exists as such or if a human imposter could be the true culprit; specifically, the cold manner with which Sara Haden endowed her character draws attention to Aunt Martha and her potential role in the London homicides. (Note that all victims are either small children or unimposing men, which leaves open the possibility of a female serial killer instead of a traditional wolf man or woman.)

 

Cons

she-wolf-of-londonDespite the brevity of George Bricker’s narrative, She-Wolf of London fails to generate a compelling air of mystery due to the insufferable pace at which it tends to unfold. A languid approach to plot progression is contrasted quite sharply by an abrupt conclusion, wherein a mere two minutes are allotted to resolving all prior questions and confronting the guilty party.

 

Analysis

As opposed to Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man, She-Wolf of London relies primarily upon psychological devices (e.g. blood-soaked hands belonging to an amnesiac protagonist, references to a family curse, etc.) rather than physical horror while building atmosphere—a creative method of keeping alive the now exhausted Universal Monster franchise.

 

Concluding Comments

She-Wolf of London benefits from the complementary performances of Lockhart and Haden. A more expansive climax might, however, have heightened any preexisting conflict between the respective characters of both actresses.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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