The Werewolf


1h 23m 1956
The Werewolf

Brief Synopsis

A scientific experiment turns an innocent man into a bloodthirsty monster.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Release Date
Jul 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

At Chad's Café in the rural town of Mountaincrest, Duncan March, a darkly troubled stranger, leaves the premises and is accosted in the alley by a man who demands his money. While Duncan fends off his attacker, a startled woman in the street hears the sounds of panting and growling emanating from the alley and screams. After March flees into the night, Clovy, the deputy sheriff, finds the body of the thief, whose throat has been ripped open. Joined by two citizens, Clovy follows the killer's footprints in the snow and is mystified when the shoeprints suddenly turn into animal tracks. Clovy sends his companions back to town to summon Sheriff Jack Haines while he waits by the tracks. When Jack arrives, he finds Clovy injured, his shoulder clawed, and takes him to see Dr. James "Doc" Gilchrist and Gilchrist's niece, Amy Standish, who serves as his nurse. As they listen in dismay, Clovy describes his assailant's hand as being covered with hair, leading Jack to conclude that their prey is a werewolf. In the snow-covered hills above Mountaincrest, meanwhile, March cowers barefoot in the cold, and noticing the paw prints surrounding him exclaims that it was all a terrible dream. As reporters, alerted by the local undertaker about the killing, flock to town to investigate, Jack sets up a series of roadblocks ringing the area. Attracted by Doc's shingle, March seeks help at his house and confides that he is suffering from amnesia and cannot remember a thing since being involved in an automobile accident and taken to see a doctor. When March confesses to killing a man the previous evening, Doc expresses disbelief, frightening March, who then runs out of the house. Speeding to Jack's office, Amy and Doc relate the story of March's visit and Amy pleads for clemency on his behalf. Meanwhile, at a laboratory in a nearby town, doctors Emery Forrest and Morgan Chambers, the physicians who treated March after his accident, read an account of the killing. Morgan, who believes that radioactive fallout from the hydrogen bomb will destroy mankind, has been trying to develop an inoculation against radiation, and tested his formula on March. Alarmed by March's transmutation, Morgan asserts that his former patient must die and sets out with Emery to kill him. Stopped at the roadblock outside of Mountaincrest, the doctors are allowed to pass after explaining that the killer was their patient. After they track March to a mine tunnel in which he has sought refuge, March begs for help, but then, sensing danger, transforms into the werewolf and lunges at Emery. Morgan fires his gun, driving March away, and the sound of the gunshots attracts Jack and his posse, who converge at the tunnel. Although Morgan explains that March was his patient, Jack remains suspicious of the doctor's motives. After the creature slaughters and devours a sheep, Jack decides to set up a series of bear traps to catch him. Soon after, March's car is found on the outskirts of town, and his unsuspecting wife Helen and young son Chris come to Mountaincrest in search of their loved one. Jack arranges for them to stay with Doc and Amy, but before they arrive, March stumbles into one of the traps, then pries it open and escapes, turning back into a man. At Doc's house, Helen wonders why everyone is being so evasive about her husband when she overhears Jack tell Amy that March was caught in a trap and insists on joining the search for her husband. Jack, Amy, Helen, Chris and Clovy then start combing the hills for March, calling to him through a loudspeaker. Spotting his father hiding behind some trees, Chris runs to him. After embracing his son, March begs them to go away and then collapses. Brought back to town and locked in a cell, March again pleads with his family to leave before he changes back into a beast. After assigning Clovy to guard the jailhouse, Jack goes to Doc's house, and Doc, hoping to develop a cure for March, decides to send a vial of his blood to the lab. Meanwhile, Morgan and Emery trick a drunk into accompanying them to the sheriff's office, and when Clovy goes outside to investigate, they drug him. When the doctors enter March's cell, he changes back into a werewolf and attacks. Drawn by the sounds of blood-curdling screams, Jack and the rest of the town run to the jailhouse, where they find Morgan and Emery mauled and March missing. In the dead of night, Jack organizes a manhunt for March, and the group flings torches at the fugitive to frighten him away. The next morning, they track him to a bridge above the highway, but when March refuses to surrender, they are forced to shoot him down. As he dies, March turns back into a man for the final time.

Photo Collections

The Werewolf - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The Werewolf (1956). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Release Date
Jul 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

The Werewolf


Fred F. Sears. The name might not be familiar to the average movie lover but some of the films he directed - Cell 2455, Death Row [1945], Rock Around the Clock [1957], Earth vs. the Flying Saucers [1957] - evoke fond memories among aficionados of fifties exploitation movies and drive-in fare. Often working with producer Sam Katzman, whose targeted promotions to "the youth market" were no less shrewd than his B-movie competitor William Castle, Sears would never be mistaken for an auteur like Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour, 1945) or Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, 1950). Instead, he was a second tier studio director in the B-movie unit at Columbia for most of his career, turning out cheap programmers on tight budgets with speed and economy his main objectives. Maybe he didn't turn out any minor masterpieces in his prolific career but he helped keep low-budget genre filmmaking alive and well for a decade and his evocatively titled films (Apache Ambush [1955], Teen-age Crime Wave [1955], The Giant Claw [1957]) obviously fueled the imaginations of such future B-movie fanatics as Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, John Sayles and Quentin Tarantino.

The Werewolf (1957) is one of Sears' rare forays into the horror genre and it incorporates some sci-fi elements into the mix as well. Discarding the old world superstitions and gypsy forelore of most werewolf movies, this tidy seventy-nine minute thriller has a contemporary setting and opens with an amnesiac stumbling into a winter resort town. It turns out the stranger is a car accident victim who was being treated with a new experimental drug. The two scientists responsible are trying to find a cure for radiation poisoning but the wolf serum they inject into Duncan Marsh (Steven Ritch) only succeeds in transforming him into the title creature. The rest of the film plays out predictably with standard monster-on-the-loose clichés and a climactic manhunt in which heavily armed cops replace the angry torch-bearing villagers of old. Along the way there is one particularly creepy transformation scene in a mine and, for a change of pace, all of the werewolf's victims are men which provides a gay subtext to the film. The first attack, in fact, takes place in a dark alley outside a bar and all we can see are the writhing, entwined legs of the victim and killer as the grunting and growling reaches orgasmic levels. There is also a marked contrast between the macho flannel-wearing men in the mountain community where the film is set and the sensitive, urban "outsider" who doesn't fit into their society and is driven out.

Don Megowan, who plays the hero, sheriff Jack Haines, in The Werewolf, previously got to play the infamous Gill Man in The Creature Walks Among Us [1956]. Joyce Holden, who plays Megowan's fiancée Amy, enjoyed a brief career in television and B features before retiring after her final film role, Terror from the Year 5000 [1958]. Steven Ritch, however, is the real star of The Werewolf and his haunted, tormented performance imbues the film with an inner core of tragedy that is a crucial component of any horror film. In case you didn't know, Ritch was a WWII survivor of some of the deadliest fighting at Guadalcanal. After the war, he considered a career as a lawyer but ended up in the film industry instead, where he concentrated on acting and screenwriting. His most notable contributions are the screenplays for Plunder Road [1957] for director Hubert Cornfield, and City of Fear [1959] for director Irving Lerner. He also appeared in the later film and Lerner's earlier effort, Murder by Contract [1958], which Martin Scorsese once said was "the film that has influenced me the most."

Rarely sympathetic to the horror genre, most reviewers dismissed The Werewolf as a routine quickie with Variety's review articulating the general consensus: "The Sam Katzman production seldom rises above a plodding monotone and won't create much reaction in the minor program market for which it is headed." Placed on a double bill with Fred S. Sears' much more popular Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Werewolf was at least an attempt to revitalize the lycanthropy film for fifties audiences but today seems like much more of a social commentary on its era if you read between the lines.

Producer: Sam Katzman
Director: Fred F. Sears
Screenplay: Robert E. Kent
Cinematography: Edward Linden
Film Editing: Harold White
Art Direction: Paul Palmentola
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cast: Steven Ritch (Duncan Marsh), Don Megowan (Sherrif Jack Haines), Joyce Holden (Amy Standish), Eleanore Tanin (Mrs. Helen Marsh), Kim Charney (Chris Marsh), Harry Lauter (Deputy Ben Clovey).
BW-79m.

by Jeff Stafford
The Werewolf

The Werewolf

Fred F. Sears. The name might not be familiar to the average movie lover but some of the films he directed - Cell 2455, Death Row [1945], Rock Around the Clock [1957], Earth vs. the Flying Saucers [1957] - evoke fond memories among aficionados of fifties exploitation movies and drive-in fare. Often working with producer Sam Katzman, whose targeted promotions to "the youth market" were no less shrewd than his B-movie competitor William Castle, Sears would never be mistaken for an auteur like Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour, 1945) or Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, 1950). Instead, he was a second tier studio director in the B-movie unit at Columbia for most of his career, turning out cheap programmers on tight budgets with speed and economy his main objectives. Maybe he didn't turn out any minor masterpieces in his prolific career but he helped keep low-budget genre filmmaking alive and well for a decade and his evocatively titled films (Apache Ambush [1955], Teen-age Crime Wave [1955], The Giant Claw [1957]) obviously fueled the imaginations of such future B-movie fanatics as Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, John Sayles and Quentin Tarantino. The Werewolf (1957) is one of Sears' rare forays into the horror genre and it incorporates some sci-fi elements into the mix as well. Discarding the old world superstitions and gypsy forelore of most werewolf movies, this tidy seventy-nine minute thriller has a contemporary setting and opens with an amnesiac stumbling into a winter resort town. It turns out the stranger is a car accident victim who was being treated with a new experimental drug. The two scientists responsible are trying to find a cure for radiation poisoning but the wolf serum they inject into Duncan Marsh (Steven Ritch) only succeeds in transforming him into the title creature. The rest of the film plays out predictably with standard monster-on-the-loose clichés and a climactic manhunt in which heavily armed cops replace the angry torch-bearing villagers of old. Along the way there is one particularly creepy transformation scene in a mine and, for a change of pace, all of the werewolf's victims are men which provides a gay subtext to the film. The first attack, in fact, takes place in a dark alley outside a bar and all we can see are the writhing, entwined legs of the victim and killer as the grunting and growling reaches orgasmic levels. There is also a marked contrast between the macho flannel-wearing men in the mountain community where the film is set and the sensitive, urban "outsider" who doesn't fit into their society and is driven out. Don Megowan, who plays the hero, sheriff Jack Haines, in The Werewolf, previously got to play the infamous Gill Man in The Creature Walks Among Us [1956]. Joyce Holden, who plays Megowan's fiancée Amy, enjoyed a brief career in television and B features before retiring after her final film role, Terror from the Year 5000 [1958]. Steven Ritch, however, is the real star of The Werewolf and his haunted, tormented performance imbues the film with an inner core of tragedy that is a crucial component of any horror film. In case you didn't know, Ritch was a WWII survivor of some of the deadliest fighting at Guadalcanal. After the war, he considered a career as a lawyer but ended up in the film industry instead, where he concentrated on acting and screenwriting. His most notable contributions are the screenplays for Plunder Road [1957] for director Hubert Cornfield, and City of Fear [1959] for director Irving Lerner. He also appeared in the later film and Lerner's earlier effort, Murder by Contract [1958], which Martin Scorsese once said was "the film that has influenced me the most." Rarely sympathetic to the horror genre, most reviewers dismissed The Werewolf as a routine quickie with Variety's review articulating the general consensus: "The Sam Katzman production seldom rises above a plodding monotone and won't create much reaction in the minor program market for which it is headed." Placed on a double bill with Fred S. Sears' much more popular Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Werewolf was at least an attempt to revitalize the lycanthropy film for fifties audiences but today seems like much more of a social commentary on its era if you read between the lines. Producer: Sam Katzman Director: Fred F. Sears Screenplay: Robert E. Kent Cinematography: Edward Linden Film Editing: Harold White Art Direction: Paul Palmentola Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast: Steven Ritch (Duncan Marsh), Don Megowan (Sherrif Jack Haines), Joyce Holden (Amy Standish), Eleanore Tanin (Mrs. Helen Marsh), Kim Charney (Chris Marsh), Harry Lauter (Deputy Ben Clovey). BW-79m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

At Columbia, producer Sam Katzman discovered the werewolf mask worn by Matt Willis in "Return of the Vampire" (1944). He simply had a film created around it.

Notes

The film opens with an offscreen narrator discussing a brief history of lycanthropy, the belief that human beings can turn into wolves. Although onscreen credits read "introducing Steven Ritch," Ritch appeared in several films before The Werewolf. Modern sources state that location filming was done at Big Bear, CA.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1956

Released in United States Summer July 1956