Movie Review: Werewolf of London (1935)

Synopsis: Wealthy botanist Wilfred Glendon is bitten by a werewolf while in Tibet and after returning to London, realizes he has the infliction and must kill each time he transforms to avoid being a wolf permanently. His only hope is a mysterious plant he had brought back from Tibet that only blooms in the moonlight and can temporarily keep the lycanthropy under control. However, its blooms are stolen by another werewolf and, even under his artificial moon lamp, isn't producing more.

Who's in it? The movie stars Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews and Lawrence Grant.

Review: I came across this movie on Peacock this morning and since it was about to rain, delaying my outdoor plans, I finally took the time to watch it. After seeing the classic film for the first time, my opinion of it was mixed.

I think there are some interesting parts to the plot, especially the rivalry between Glendon (Hull) and Dr. Yogami (Oland) over the plant, both looking to keep from turning into werewolves. At minimum, Glendon's research into the plant and his invention of a simulated moonlight showed his brilliance. I also liked how he was going to great lengths to protect his wife, Lisa (Hobson), adding a little more urgency and motivation to his plight.

Unfortunately, the movie (like many from this era) tends to drag on a bit at times. Plus, I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a horror movie or comedy considering there seemed to be just as much of an attempt at the latter as the former. One thing is for certain, the writers seemed to think getting drunk was hilarious, since it was something they played up for comedic effect more than once.

Also, while I respected Glendon's desire to protect his wife at all costs, I truthfully didn't really feel as though Lisa deserved it. Her husband, though not forthcoming with why, clearly had something going on that was troubling him and despite that, she was perfectly content with leaving him alone so she could go out and have fun with a childhood friend (Matthews) who clearly had no problem breaking up her marriage. And this was even after Glendon was quick to point it out to her as well. It made me wonder if maybe she was relieved when she learned he was the werewolf and hoped he would be killed.

I did think the ending of the movie was better than most. At minimum, there was some suspense built up before the inevitable and predictable conclusion. I've seen plenty of movies that didn't bother doing that and as a result, ruined an otherwise decent film. 

Final Opinion: I didn't hate it and can understand why it is considered a classic that even inspired a hit song. However, I do think it might have been better had it focused a lot more on the horror aspects and made his wife a bit more likable.

My Grade: B-


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