Werewolf of London was Universal’s first talkie werewolf movie. It was also the first bipedal anthropomorphic werewolf film. That’s a werewolf that looks human and walks on two legs instead all four like a wolf. Universal had actually released the first werewolf movie in 1913, the silent film The Werewolf. It was a Canadian film about a Navajo woman who transforms into a wolf to take revenge against evil white settlers. Unfortunately the film was destroyed in a fire in 1924 and is considered lost.
Werewolf of London stars Henry Hull as a scientist who travels to Tibet looking for a rare flower. While there, he is attacked by a wolf and bitten. Upon returning to London, England, Hull is visited by Warner Oland (doing his standard racist Asian character) and is informed that he will become a werewolf and the flower is the only temporary cure available. Oland is the werewolf who bit Hull and he’s after the flower too.
The film didn’t do well initially. It was considered too close to the excellent 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hull even dresses up in a top hat and coat and goes on the prowl looking for victims when he is transformed into a werewolf. But the movie has held up extremely well and is a moody, suspenseful horror film. It later spawned a name only sequel in the 1940’s, She-Wolf of London that had nothing to do with the original and in fact didn’t have werewolves in the film at all and that irritatingly annoying Warren Zevon song.