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Trailers from Hell: Joe Dante on Mystery ‘Weird Woman,’ Starring Lon Chaney

Trailers from Hell: Joe Dante on Mystery 'Weird Woman,' Starring Lon Chaney

Shock Theater with Joe Dante continues at Trailers from Hell, today with director and TFH creator Dante introducing Reginald Le Borg’s 1944 mystery, “Weird Woman,” starring Lon Chaney as a professor who takes a supernatural wife while on a South Seas expedition. 

Fritz Leiber’s pulp novella “Conjure Wife”, which
originally appeared in the April 1943 issue of Unknown Worlds, has had a
surprisingly durable screen history. It was adapted here as the second entry in
Universal’s Inner Sanctum Mystery series, then redone years later as an episode
of the Moment of Fear TV show (1960). A classy feature treatment, Burn Witch
Burn, followed in 1961 (see TFH Guru Sam Hamm’s take on it here). A barely
released comedy version, Witches’ Brew, appeared in 1980.

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This film is very unusual for its mix of interesting women characters and its harsh look at campus politics, not something you often saw in Universal second features in the 1940s. Here's an excerpt on this film from my review of the Inner Sanctum box set on Amazon:

WEIRD WOMAN (1944): Chaney plays a college professor identified as an "ethnologist" who brings a new bride (Anne Gwynne) from "the islands" back to the campus, incurring the jealous wrath of the library administrator (Evelyn Ankers) whom he'd once dated. He recruits a gorgeous young college girl (Lois Collier) to be his research assistant and she falls for him as well. Interesting look at campus politics, something rarely shown in classic Hollywood films, with one subplot dealing with a rival professor (Ralph Morgan) whose latest book has plagiarized the long-forgotten thesis of a dead student. There are five interesting women characters, played by five colorful actresses, and the screenplay, based on Fritz Leiber's novel, "Conjure Wife," was written by a woman (Brenda Weisberg).

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