LAS NOCHES DEL HOMBRE LOBO
|Director: Rene Govar
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina, Rene Govar, C. Bellard
Music: Franco Salina
Cast: Paul Naschy (Waldemar Daninsky), Monique Brainville, Helen Mattel, Peter Beaumont
No poster available
Note: This is the most problematic title in Naschy's entire filmography and the lost film of his career. Information about this film is sparse. This page, therefore, will list all the theories, hints and clues, so that the mystery of LAS NOCHES DEL HOMBRE LOBO can be understood better and even solved.
Paul Naschy insists that LAS NOCHES DEL HOMBRE LOBO was made. In an important interview with Michael Secula published in Bob Sargent's VIDEOOZE (No.6/7, 1994) Naschy talked about the film:
"The release of LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO in Paris--an impressive success I suppose--is what led the French television director Rene Govar to call me about doing a script. I wrote it, adding a number of somewhat novel ideas, and we began filming. It was shot in Paris in five weeks. The film told the story of a professor who discovers that one of his pupils suffers from the curse of lycanthropy. Under the guise of helping him, the professor instead uses him as an instrument of revenge. He dominates the pupil during his transformations by means of sound waves, and in this manner causes him to act against the people he wants to get rid of.
"I left after my work was finished; but owing to the legal problems resulting from Govar's death, the film was impounded. Not long ago I was in Paris trying to ascertain what had become of the film, without any results. I believe it's become one of those so-called 'lost films' which could be anywhere, and that perhaps some day someone will locate and recover it."
In another part of the magazine, Naschy answered a question of whether a completed print of this film exists:
"I haven't the slightest idea. That picture was shot in Paris with a fairly good budget for its time. I remember including some scenes of the Wolf Man on the Parisian rooftops surrounded by fog. The film ran into serious economic problems which resulted in lawsuits, but the most unfortunate thing was that director, Rene Govar, was killed in a car accident shortly after filming was completed.
"I was at the French Film Archives not too long ago, and I believe they've conserved a trailer for the film there, but not the film itself. It is really a 'damned' film. Perhaps some day it will surface; I don't know. I've tried to locate it, but I haven't had any results."
In his autobiography, MEMOIRS OF A WOLFMAN, Naschy passes over the film with just one quick mention, though the writers of the book's accompanying filmgraphy, Adolfo Camilo and Luis Virgil, are more forthcoming:
"Joan Pratt, co-author of the splendid book LAS RAICES DEL MIEDO (THE ROOTS OF FEAR), claims that he saw LAS NOCHES DEL HOMBRE LOBO in Spain. We have only managed to unearth a few stills, but we are familiar with the film--suffice to say it had a troubled history. The plot centres on the attempts of an evil Parisian scientest to control and carry out research on Waldemar Daninsky."
(I'm trying to contact these two writers to acquire copies of those stills and find out more about that trailer in the French Film Archives!)
On March 2, 2001, I was contacted by a respected genre-film historian Jean-Claude Michel. Michel had made investigations into the film and its director, and these were the results:
"First, it has been said that Rene Govar, the mentioned director, was a French television director. I have many acquaintances with French TV, and I can affirm that NOBODY by the name of Rene Govar has been employed by French TV, in any capacity. Secondly, Govar being a very rare name in this country (but a real film director named Ivan Govar really made French films, but it was decades ago...). I called the rare Govars found in the phone repertory (for ENTIRE France) and none of these families had a 'Rene Govar' among their parents. Third, none of the actors mentioned for this film seem to exist really; in any case, none of them made any other picture or was syndicated. Fourth, when a film (including co-productions) is shot in France, it must be declared to the CNC (Centre National du Cinema) and must have a complete file, with the screenplay, list of crew, cast, the director, insurance company, etc. There is NO exception to this rule, except of course if a film is shot clandestinely, or in the case of an amateur production. I made a request to the CNC about this film and the answer was 'it doesn't exist'.... Five, even if some problems happened during production, or after, it seems incredible that NOBODY could have seen the potential of a Waldemar Daninsky picture, with Paul Naschy, in the 1970s when his popularity, including in France, was at its zenith...."
Jean-Claude Michel concludes that he believes the film does not exist, though he adds: "I would be happy to be wrong."
There are many possibilities, but the following should be considered: Naschy has never seen the completed film and, as far as I know, has not even seen dailes/rushes from the shooting. "I left after my work was finished," states Naschy. How long Naschy was in Paris is unknown, though Naschy mentions a five-week schedule for the entire film. It is possible that Naschy was in Paris for a brief while, and that any information he received afterward of the production was provided by a person (producer, director, someone else involved in the film) who was motivated to give him news that may not have been the complete truth. This is one scenario, but any other could be plausible.
Another issue needs to be addressed because of the suspicions of some that the picture was never made and that Naschy included the title in his resume at an early, pivotal time in his career when such a credit could have impressed Spanish and foreign producers to hire him for future projects. It should be understood that it is perfectly natural, and common, for actors to pump up the importance of their previous roles and films to prospective producers and investors: this is the way the game is played in the film business (a game used in other businesses, also). Even a partially-made film can and does get used as a credit at times. Yet the suspicions of some people hold that this credit is completely false. Naschy's response has been consistent: he did go to Paris to make this film.
In my study of Naschy over the years, it has been my experience that while he may not be clear on certain facts (we are talking about films made decades ago), there is always, at the very least, a measure of truth in what he says. To give an example, in the above-mentioned VIDEOOZE interview, Naschy says this about "Mainly on the Plains," an episode of I SPY in which he appeared with Boris Karloff: "I played the role of a villain. This episode was never shown in Spain because the police were bad guys, and back then such a thing was unthinkable." Naschy is in the episode, for sure, but he plays just one of several picnickers who wind up having a bit of fun with the Karloff character. And, I believe, the bad guys were merely in disguise as the police, a plot point Naschy would have been unaware of at the time of the shoot. It is possible that Naschy appeared in another I SPY episode (I still have to check all the episodes of the show that were filmed in Spain), but though Naschy's memory of that particular episode may be somewhat faulty regarding the role he played (or perhaps not if he did have such a role but it was cut), it is true that he appeared in I SPY and in a scene with Karloff. My example has a further point: Even as recently as 1999, respected writers were questioning the veracity of parts of Naschy's filmography. Carlos Aguilar, in his CINE FANTASTICO Y DE TERROR ESPANOL: 1900-1983, does not list the I SPY episode because, according to him, there is no "confirmation" that Naschy did indeed appear in the show. He underlines his doubt by tagging Naschy's involvement, somewhat mockingly, as his "supposed intervention." Well, Naschy is in the episode. No doubt of that! I've seen it with my own two contact-lensed eyes!
Any one who has further information about this film, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!