Less She-Wolf of London and more She-Wolf in Sheep’s clothing as this 1946 feature from Universal Pictures attempts to pull the wool over their audience’s eyes.
The ruse is well implanted in the psyche by the antagonist, leading our heroine and us down a mythological lie born out of the fear and paranoia that the Allenby family has werewolf blood in its veins.
It may have served better to have called the film, The Curse of the Allenbys, (which is actually the title given to the feature for its UK release), but then this would not have put as many bums on seats and capitalised on the Universal backlot of Werewolf movies that starred Lon Chaney.
It would also have been cool to have used the same plot but leveraged from the 1936 vehicle starring Henry Hull as Dr. Wilfred Glendon. Instead of using the Allenby family name, if they had used their bluff around Dr. Glendon, then there would have been more merit to the gaslighting component.
All this may sound a little harsh, because in truth, the film is incredibly strong in its delivery and using greed and power as its core theme for the subterfuge. Our lead character, Phyllis (June Lockhart) stands to come into the Allenby fortune, but standing in her way is either her Aunt Martha (Sara Haden) or her cousin Carol (Jan Wiley) who have lived in the mansion all their lives and could lose it all.
The fact that there has also been a series of murders near the estate and reported sightings of a she-wolf only adds fuel to Phyliss’ fears, forced to her bed and away from society in case she is the one responsible.
She-Wolf of London struggles to find an identity of its own as it attempts to prize itself free from the coat-tails of yester-year movies produced by Universal, but inevitably the film is slow and cumbersome with barely a ripple of fear to be seen.
- Saul Muerte