|Is June Lockhart a werewolf?|
Set at the turn of the century, She-Wolf of London stars June Lockhart as Phyllis Allenby, an heiress about to marry a prominent barrister (Don Porter). This news prompts Phyllis's "Aunt" Martha (Sara Haden), who resides at the Allenby estate, to make a startling revelation to her daughter Carol (Jan Wiley). Martha is not Phyllis's aunt, but rather a housekeeper who became the girl's de facto guardian when Phyllis's parents died. Thus, Martha has become concerned about her and Carol's future after the nuptials.
|A cloaked figure leaves the mansion.|
The central premise is a good one: Are the murders being committed by a werewolf or someone that just wants it to look that way? Twentieth Century-Fox explored the same premise--with better results--in the moody, underrated The Undying Monster (1942). It's superior to She-Wolf, but Universal's effort still holds interest for its 61-minute running time.
|Sara Haden as "Aunt" Martha.|
The supporting cast includes Dennis Hoey as a Scotland Yard inspector, though one that's smarter than the Inspector Lestrade he portrayed in Universal's Sherlock Holmes series. As for Ms. Lockhart, she comes across as a timid lead, lacking much of the warmth she displayed in her later maternal roles on television (e.g., Lassie, Lost in Space).
Director Jean Yarbrough uses Universal's "hacienda set" (originally built for the studio's Westerns) to substitute nicely for the Allenby mansion. Some outdoor footage makes the production look more expensive, though the California scenery can't pass for a London park. Yarbrough employs some cant shots (i.e., a tilted camera) to make the climax more disturbing (which always reminds me of the Expressionistic photography in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).
As pointed out in several sources, Edgar G. Ulmer's Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) is basically a remake of She-Wolf of London. If imitation is indeed a form of flattery, then She-Wolf of London must have other admirers in addition to me.