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Rated PG
Copyright 1973 Diplomat Pictures / Millco
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 26 October 2009

The Characters:  

  • Jack Whittier - Dean Stockwell! Officially, he is the White House Press Secretary, but he also gets tapped as a speech writer. Speaking of tapping, Jack performs stud duty for the President's daughter, Marion. Talk about being the President's "go to" man.
  • The President - He is a good bowler, moderately handy around the (White) House, and completely unsuitable to execute the duties of the executive branch. What the country needs is a man who is practical, and not afraid to get his hands dirty. A pig farmer would be great. Why did they elect this guy, instead of a pig farmer?
  • Marion - She owns three outfits, because, as the President's daughter, she only has limited opportunities to shop for clothing. The rest of her time is spent smiling at people that her father wants distracted.
  • Cmdr. Salmon - A Navy psychiatrist. Notice the subtle use of a fish species for his last name.
  • Giselle Whittier - Jack's wife, she has a speech impediment that makes her sound like the beaver from "Lady and the Tramp."
  • Dr. Kiss - Der iz ah midjet doktor Frankinsteen vho vorkz unter zee Pen-ta-gone!
  • Any citizen who made the mistake of taking a walk through Washington D.C. on the night of a full moon - Kibble.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Here at the start, let me warn you about "The Werewolf of Washington." The film is intended to be both a comedy and a political commentary; those two elements should only be combined in carefully controlled situations by skilled professionals. Yes, it is possible to make a political movie that is funny and insightful. No, it does not have to feature Slim Pickens riding a nuclear bomb. What it should not have is half-hearted, infantile attempts at parody. Sometimes the parody in this movie is so thick that you could not cut it with a chainsaw.

While assigned to the White House press corps, Jack engaged in a little extramarital hanky-panky with the president's daughter. He was unable to say, "no" to the spunky girl on his own, so Jack requested a transfer to his newspaper's branch in Budapest. He spent a while there before the president contacted the young reporter and offered him a position as the White House Press Secretary. Jack accepted, even though it meant leaving his wife behind in Hungary until she could obtain a travel visa.

Giselle's trouble in getting a visa and her mastery of the local language make me think that she is from Hungary. If that is the case, I would assume that Jack met and married her after arriving in Budapest. However, then I cannot figure out how he was having an affair with Marion before his transfer. If I try to reason it out I get confused. Ever have somebody hand you a mess of string and tell you to untangle it? You start working, but cannot find the ends. Then the dog throws up on the carpet; then you knock over your lemonade onto the table near the ball of twine, turning it into a sticky wet mass; then you finally get the dog barf cleaned up and discover a horde of ants, attracted by the spilled lemonade, swarming under and on the table. To finally regain a semblance of normalcy in your life you throw the sodden ball of string in the trash, because a new roll of string costs $.99 at the hardware store down the street. My problem is that this is a movie plot, not an agglomeration of string. I cannot just throw it away. You want me to untangle it for you, despite the dog barf, spilled lemonade, and ants.

Well, screw you, too.

On the way to the Budapest airport, Jack almost runs over a creepy man holding a motorcycle. He avoids the bug-eyed fellow and slams into a tree. Before an ambulance chasing lawyer can arrive on the scene, the creepy guy drops the motorcycle and wanders off into the forest. Jack tries to get assistance from some gypsies, but they ignore his AAA membership card and spur their wagons on into the night. Back at the wrecked car, Giselle is confronted by a menacing canine form that leaps from the mist. Her unlucky husband returns just in time to jump between his wife and the "wolf." It tries to chew off his left nipple! Goodness, but that looks painful. Quite fortunately, Giselle's goodbye gift to her husband was a cane with a silver head; Jack beats the "wolf" to death with the cane.

A short time later, Jack arrives in Washington with his luggage, one severely mangled nipple, and no wife. His closest wife is more than four thousand miles away! What does the new Press Secretary do? He immediately immerses himself in the political social scene. That means he sits on couches that are so gaudy only old politicians would buy one, and only if the taxpayer's money was paying for it. He also does his best to fend off the inebriated wives of judges and senators. I have to applaud Jack's stoic nature in the face of such adversity. Too bad that he turns into a werewolf and rips apart a Supreme Court nominee's drunken spouse after a party.

I guess that leaving your wife in another country so you can chase women, even old and stout ones, is par for the course in our nation's capital. Shoot, even killing a mistress or two probably is not unusual. Transforming into a werewolf (he really looks more like a Lhasa Apsa than a wolf) is probably not normal, and frowned upon in polite political circles.

Have I mentioned that Jack sees a red pentagram on the palm of his future victims? Let us just recap a bit: werewolf, mist-shrouded forest, silver cane, gypsies, and victims with a pentagram on their palms. The writer must have gotten those ideas from somewhere else, but I just cannot figure out where...

The movie plods on, and Mr. Whittier continues to turn into a werewolf and eat people. He knows that he is doing this. At one point, he has to sneak back into one of the White House bathrooms to retrieve his shoes (removed prior to changing), and is almost caught by the President. Jack locks himself in a stall; the President thinks the stall door is jammed and spends a few minutes trying to get it open. After the leader of the free world gives up, Jack is able to sneak out without anyone noticing that he is carrying an extra pair of shoes.

Who the heck cares if he has an extra pair of shoes? Seeing him with them was not going to tip anybody off that Jack Whittier was a werewolf. Nor was a shoe found at the scene of any crime, meaning that there was no chance of us hearing the phrase, "If the shoe does not fit, you must acquit." The only reason we have to endure the scene is to drive home the President's incompetent nature, because he fixates on stupid things that are not important. I will tell you what the President of the United States should be concerned about: the White House's interior decorating. Almost every interior scene in this movie gave me nightmares. There are ugly paintings with gold frames, walls painted colors that range between "pumpkin" and purple, and absolutely hideous wallpaper.

God, that wallpaper. It was so ugly that provoking the British into burning Washington again might be worth it, just to ensure every trace of that wallpaper was wiped off the face of the Earth.

Inexplicably, most of Jack's, "I must be crazy or a werewolf!" moments involve bathrooms. He even freaks out while having dinner with Commander Salmon and begs the Navy officer to join him in the bathroom. Are you insane, man? Do not loudly ask a Navy man for his company in the bathroom so that you can, "Show him something." If you do, because circumstances demand it (though I cannot fathom what those could be), do not strip off your shirt once the two of you are in the loo!

Trying to have a quiet little affair with the President's daughter is hard enough. Turning into a werewolf every night makes Jack's pursuit of happiness almost impossible. It becomes more difficult when he turns into a werewolf in the middle of a meeting of the Joint Chiefs, then goes on a rampage in the Pentagon. Okay, under the Pentagon. Beneath the Pentagon is a huge mechanical room that is filled with Military Police who are stationed at random intervals. Jack runs through it like some bizarre bonus level in "Castle Wolfenstein." The movie grows even more bizarre; the werewolf encounters a tiny dwarf scientist who thinks that the furry invader from Europe is the bee's knees. What mad midget scientist working for the DoD doesn't want a pet werewolf?

Lending some assistance to the neurotic Press Secretary at last, Cmdr. Salmon buys a lot of heavy steel chain. Only, this is not for a run-of-the-mill choke collar. No, the Navy officer chains Jack to a fragile chair for the night. Chained up like that, poor Jack is completely helpless when Marion comes to visit. Her reaction to seeing her illicit sex partner covered in chains and padlocks is pretty much, "Who did this to you? That is hot!" Actually, if you find anyone wearing that much steel you should make sure they can breathe. Not that Marion is worried about Jack's respiration. Excited by her man's foray into the Frederick's of Hollywood Hardware Store, Marion ignores his pleas to leave. You really do not want to know what happens next. Just imagine Dean Stockwell, covered in chain, open-mouth kissing a young woman - yes, I am serious. Really. Period, end of story.

Before the sexually revolting scene can get going (I was often weirded out by the episodes of "Quantum Leap" where Scott Bakula ended up in a woman's body and Dean Stockwell, the President calls. He wants Jack to join him aboard an HMX helicopter right away. The President and the Chinese Prime Minister are going to make a big announcement. Well, let me tell you something: the last thing you want trapped aboard a U. S. Marine Corps helicopter with the biggest taco in Red China is a red-blooded American werewolf who was just denied a little tail. Puking on other heads of state might be against protocol, but feeding one to a vicious anthropomorphic Republican Lhasa Apsa from Hell is probably going to cause a war.

That, my friends, is one of the problems with a two party system.

The movie does finish trying to make its point about whatever its point is (lycanthropes and public office, it seems), but I keep wondering if the reason I dislike it is that the satire is dated. Had I lived when the Vietnam War was ending, the Watergate scandal was forcing a president to resign from office, and the American hippie was not on the endangered species list, would I enjoy "The Werewolf of Washington?" The world may never know. I did enjoy watching Dean Stockwell overact, including when he is panting and otherwise pretending to be a dog.

For the record: I was born in 1973, so I was technically "alive" when this was made. However, I hardly consider spitting up partially-digested formula after every meal and pooping myself several times a day "living."


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Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Budapest International Airport is located on a one lane dirt road, in the middle of a spooky forest, miles outside of the city.
  • Mercedes is German for "undentable."
  • The White House septic tank is filled with discarded religious artifacts.
  • There used to be a furniture store at 1605 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • During the 1970's, it was not unusual to register your license plate with the post office.
  • Republicans often mistake cotton candy for carpet.
  • The Catholics are right: sexually deviant thoughts will cause hair to grow on your hands.
  • There is a pay phone booth on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Forgetting to shave your forehead is a sure fire way to ruin a romantic candlelight dinner.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - They are just joshing us about the director's name, right?
  • 7 mins - It's a wereshepherd!
  • 15 mins - What are you thinking? Now you either have to kill her or have sex with her.
  • 17 mins - Good choice.
  • 18 mins - Why are you grocery shopping at a car dealership?
  • 21 mins - And you still aren't in the White House.
  • 31 mins - You are supposed to wear those on your feet, not your ears.
  • 36 mins - I knew it! He's a closet Rainbow Brite devotee.
  • 52 mins - What you need is some baby oil and a ball-peen hammer.
  • 57 mins - Jack's tie looks like a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar.
  • 57 mins - Shouldn't he be chained to something more substantial, like a radiator (or Tip O'Neill)?
  • 83 mins - "This administration cannot survive a werewolf scandal! What we need is a scapegoat for the media...and a goat for Jack - he looks hungry."


  • Jack: "I was the youngest member of the Washington press corps - its fastest rising star. One of the 'best and brightest' as we used to say, before so much blood passed under those pretty Potomac bridges."
  • Attorney General: "We are going to war against the networks, Jack. We are going to win back the hearts and minds of the American people."
  • Jack: "Mr. President, I think I'm a werewolf."
  • The President: "I don't care what this gypsy lady told you. Cmdr. Salmon tells me that in your case, or to say that in this case, the existence of a werewolf has not been verified. So how could you be a werewolf?"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note werewolfwash1.wav Jack: "The figure running away, was it a man or woman? Was it light or dark? Well, was it light or dark?"
Man: "It was too dark to tell."
Jack: "The figure was dark, wasn't it?"
Man: "This figure was dark."
Man's Girlfriend: "All right, it was dark. It was very dark."
Man: "Baby, just be cool."
Attorney General: "A black man!"
Man: "No, it was a werewolf! You racist pig!"
Green Music Note werewolfwash2.wav Jack: "What about my seeing the sign of the pentagram?"
Cmdr. Salmon: "Well, sometimes we see our conflicts in terms of political symbols."
Jack: "What does politics got to do with this?"
Cmdr. Salmon: "What does the Pentagon have to do with it?"
Jack: "The pentagram. The five-pointed star!"
Waiter: "Gentlemen, would care to order dinner now?"
Green Music Note werewolfwash3.wav Jack: "Captain Salmon, you see that cane? The cane right by the television set! Pick it up! Pick it up! Now, hit me with it! Hit me with it, on the head! Kill me! I'm just a violent beast, and I'm better off dead!"
Green Music Note werewolfwash4.wav Jack: "Will you get out of here! Out! Out!"
Marion: "Will you please stop barking at me?"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwerewolfwash1.mpg - 5.8m
I saw a werewolf, riding on top of a woman's car that pulled into a service station. His hair was perfect, her's was a mess. Arrrrrrrooooo! Werewolf of Washington!

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