The Wolf Man

PLOT:

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales to reconcile with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains). While there, Larry becomes romantically interested in a local girl named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), who runs an antique shop. As a pretext, he buys something from her, a silver-headed walking stick decorated with a wolf. Gwen tells him that it represents a werewolf (which she defines as a man who changes into a wolf “at certain times of the year”.)

Throughout the film, various villagers recite a poem that all the locals apparently know, whenever the subject of werewolves comes up:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

That night, Larry attempts to rescue Gwen’s friend Jenny from what he believes to be a sudden attack by a wolf. He kills the beast with his new walking stick, but is bitten in the process. He soon discovers that it was not just a wolf; it was a werewolf, and now Talbot has become one. A gypsy fortuneteller named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) reveals to Larry that the animal which bit him was actually her son Bela (Bela Lugosi) in the form of a wolf. Bela had been a werewolf for years and now the curse of lycanthropy has been passed to Larry.

Sure enough, Talbot prowls the countryside in the form of a two-legged wolf. Struggling to overcome the curse, he is finally bludgeoned to death by his father with his own walking stick. As he dies, he returns to human form.

REVIEW:

Someone once called the wolfman “the runt of the horror monsters”. This was no doubt referring to his legacy compared to the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. I can’t deny that, but I can say that I believe this film is underrated, especially when you consider the major stars that are in the cast.

The myth and lore of the wolfman tends to be different with every werewolf incarnation, but I believe that The Wolf Man is the original (on film, anyway).

Lon Chaney, Jr. was apparently a very talented actor, so for him to be reduced, for lack of a better word, to a growling, snarling beast, and have such a legacy etched in cinematic history is no surprise. As a werewolf, though, we don’t really see him until the last half hour of the film. I have issue with that. It is my belief that they could have taken out some of the unnecessary dialogue and replaced it with the wolf hunting, but that’s just me.

Claude Rains is the consummate professional as he portrays Sir Talbot. His best scene, though, may be one at the end where he doesn’t speak, but the expression on his face says it all.

With the mixture of all sorts of mythology and religions going on in this flick, I’m surprised that it was allowed to be released, given the time period its from. That could just be my assumption, though.

There’s nothing like a classic horror film. Although this isn’t the scariest picture you’ll ever see, even by 1940s standards, its still pretty good, and a good intro into the werewolf lore. If not for this film, all subsequent werewolves (in just about any media) probably would not exist, so why not see where they all came from?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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4 Responses to “The Wolf Man”

  1. It was a fine movie I think. With the average now there are more influence of movie fans to see movies based on werewolf and hire this movie The wolfman (2009) was a remake and it was based on some where around 1880. It was very interesting to see this movie trailer and I have seen this movie to day and it was a wonderful movie upcoming
    Source

    http://www.onlinemovieshut.com/movie-reviews/the-wolfman-movie-2009-beyond-the-human-face

  2. […] look like wolves, but that wasn’t the case here. Hell, even the original Wolf Man from The Wolf Man was closer looking to wolves than these things. I guess they just wanted to make sure they could […]

  3. […] remake of the immortal 1941 classic The Wolf Man does nothing but spit on the legacy. Before I go any further, I should state that it is no secret […]

  4. […] at during one scene, which is nice since almost every other werewolf appearance in media from The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney up to True Blood (I believe that is the latest werewolf appearance) has given […]

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