The Werewolf (1956)
Notes: Columbia Pictures
Werewolf (Duncan Marsh): Steven Ritch
Also Don Megowan, Joyce Holden, Eleanore Tanin, Kim Charney, Harry Lauter, Larry J. Blake, Ken Christy, James Gavin.
Story and Screenplay: Robert E. Kent and James B. Gordon
Produced: Sam Katzman
Directed: Fred F. Sears
Summary: A narrator defines lycanthropy as a “universal belief” even from the “ancient Greeks and Romans”; tales have persisted “since the beginning of man’s memory of time.”
At a bar, one man is tormented and stares into the fire. The bartender yells, “Hey Mr., your change!” as he leaves. Another man goes after him and tries to mug him, but this thug is killed while a woman witness screams. The man’s throat has been ravaged and the killer has run off. The Deputy and bartender track him into the woods but see two-legged wolf tracks and call the Sheriff.
The Deputy is injured and the Sheriff brings him back, telling the bartender to keep quiet. Nurse Amy tends to the wounds, gotten from being clawed and ripped. The Sheriff fired at the creature with hairy paws.
The rest of the film follows a simple hunting outline. Occasional concern by Amy (“He’ll freeze up there!” and her objection to use of bear traps as “vicious and cruel”) is overruled by a batch of men with guns. The man’s wife and son are brought in to plead with him, but ultimately the villlagers, even with the customary Frankenstein-film torches, hound him onto a bridge and are able to shoot him dead, at which point he transforms back into a man.
Commentary: For a film with such a basic title from a major studio, it’s still no surprise that I’d never heard of this one. What a stone drag! They might as well have been hunting quail. We get minimal backstory on anything here.
And even the hunting sucks! Two dozen jackasses spot the werewolf, shoot guns and throw torches at him (oddly not burning down old growth forest for thousands of acres around), and then turn around to go home for the night, planning on coming back tomorrow. And the creature was in plain sight five seconds previously! That’s stupid, even for hunters!