Wolfman Jack: a Retrospective of Mike Nichols’ WOLF (1994)

 

Mike Nichols (The Graduate/Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) was an unlikely candidate to direct a werewolf movie, but his 1994 picture Wolf was by no means your bog-standard tale of a ‘hairy-handed gent’ (Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London):

 


Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London (Official Music Video)

 

Plotwise: briefly; sad-sack upscale NY publishing house editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) is demoted and shafted by his mentee Stewart Swinton (James Spader) when tycoon Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer) acquires the company. Driving home from leafy Vermont, Will is bitten by a wolf and finds his batteries more than recharged….

 

For the most part the movie is a sharp satire of 90s corporate politicking and greed, with some very funny writing, which I suspect is the work of an uncredited Elaine May (Nichols long-time friend and comedy partner), as it crackles with her unique style.

 

These scenes in particular – some of which remind me of my days climbing (or attempting to hang onto) the greasy pole at UK broadcaster ITV.

 

 

Excuse the poor quality/sound of this first clip:


Alden (Plummer):

Look, it’s nothing personal. Come on, you know that. You’re clearly a man of taste and individuality, which I prize, but these days, not only in corporate America but all around the globe, taste and individuality are actually something of a handicap.”

Will Randall (Nicholson):

Well, just out of curiosity, on what basis did you pick my successor? Vulgarity and conformity?

 

Some prescient dialogue:


Wolf (1994) Art Is Dead

Jack Nicholson James Spader urinal scene from Wolf

 

Despite the age difference, the scenes between Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer (as Alden’s daughter Laura) really zing:

 


Wolf - Nicholson and Pfeiffer

 

In my view (for what it’s worth) the picture would have been perfect if Nicholson’s character simply believed that the wolf’s bite had rejuvenated him and took that as a reason to re-enter the fray, rather go full-blown werewolf, which unfortunately makes the latter part of Wolf a bit silly.

 


Wolf - Heightened Senses

 

 

Nicholson resembling more of an adult ”double-denim’ Eddie Munster or an inbred Mountain Man than a terrifying lupine man-beast:

 


Wolf | Jack Nicholson Vs James Spader Werewolf fight

 

 

 

A haunting score by Ennio Morricone

So check out Wolf (again?), it may just surprise you.

 

Old Jokes Home: I used to be a werewolf but I’m alright nooooooooooooowwwww!

BONUS:

Young Frankenstein ( junior ) - Werewolf! ...There!

Arnell Esq

Arnell Esq

Broadcast consultant - former Director/Creator of ITV3, ITV4 in the UK, producer/writer (most recently Bob Fosse for Sky Arts in May 2019), commentator/rent-a-gob for trades, broadsheets and magazines. Also occasional lecturer (University of Westminster, London). Content provider. Accept no substitute (terms & conditions apply) 'Nullum bonum amico, nullum peius hostes'

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