Tribute review for Lon Chaney Jr., AKA – The Wolf Man, who died today on September 20th.
THE WOLF MAN, 1941
Directed by: George Waggner
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Warren William, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya
Review by JR Kuzm
Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. He visits a gypsy camp with village girl Jenny Williams, who is attacked by Bela, a gypsy who has turned into a werewolf. Larry kills the werewolf but is bitten during the fight. Bela’s mother tells him that this will cause him to become a werewolf at each full moon. Larry confesses his plight to his unbelieving father, Sir John, who then joins the villagers in a hunt for the wolf. Larry, transformed by the full moon, heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen.
After the sudden death of his brother, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is called home to take on the family estate. Home is the Welsh country side and after a fight with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), decided to move to America in order to study, but the death forced him home and to make amends with his father.
Upon his arrival, the two men act rather coy about their relationship and are obviously trying to find a common interest to talk about. The solution is resolved when Larry comes across a brand new telescope Sir John had recently installed. As Larry takes hi
Larry walks down to the village and enters the antique shop. The young girl greets him and ask if he needs any help with anything, Larry tells her that he is looking for a pair of earrings exactly like the pair the girl was putting away earlier. Not quite picking up on this yet, Larry tells her that he saw her through her window, at first upset, Larry sets the girl at ease with his charm. It is revealed that the girl is Gw
Even a man that is pure of heart
And says his prays by night
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright
Larry asks Gwen if she would like to do something later, which she informs him that she and her friend Jenny are going to the Gypsy fortune tellers that night if he cared to go, which was a no brainer. So that night, Larry escorts the two young ladies to the Gypsy camp.
While Jenny is receiving her fortune telling, Larry and Gwen take a little walk through the forest. During her reading though, the Gypsy Bela (Bela Lugosi) sees a pentagram appear on Jenny’s hand. This symbol is only visible to a werewolf and appears on its next victim. Bela begs Jenny to run, so she does. While in the woods, Larry is moving in for a kiss when it is interrupted by Jenny’s scream. Larry rushes to her rescue to find her dead body being mauled b
Larry and Gwen take Jenny’s remains to Dr. Lloyd (Warren William) who tries, but is unable to do anything for Jenny. Larry also takes the police out to the spot where the attack happened, but when they got to the spot, there wasn’t the dead wolf lying thchecks him and discovers that his skull had been bashed in. The police believe what happened was that both Bela and Larry hear Jenny’s screams and rushed to the rescue and in the frenzy of a fight got confused and accidently killed Bela. Larry knows that She tells him that Bela was a werewolf and that Larry now carries the mark. At first Larry is skeptical but as he visits Bela tomb he comes to realize the curse he now bears.
Although the Talbot family is well respected in the area, the villagers have become cold and distance towards Larry believing that he is a murderer now, no scene shows this more than when Larry and Sir John go to church the following Sunday and the people jus
Later that night, while Larry is preparing for bed, he starts scratching all over his body. He removes his shoes and socks and sees them start to get hairy. He has transformed and leaps from his bedroom window. Peering from behind a tree, it is revealed th
The next morning, Larry is awaken from the sunlight shining on him. Not remembering a thing that had happened, he sees muddy footprints on his floor and starts to worry. It is at this time that his father comes in and tells him about the dead gravedigger, wsees him as the wolf and comes to his aide. She says a chant and Larry transform back to normal, but the next morning the villagers are much more scared and this compels the Talbots to join in on the posse. Before they head out though, Larry visits Gwen, th
So later that night, Larry transforms again, attacks and kills another man, while Gwen is running around the forest fearful for Larry’s safety, when she happens upon the wolf. The beast attacks her, Sir John hearing her screams comes to her aide. Carrying
Ten years after the success of Frankenstein and Dracula, a few years after what many believed to be end of the golden age for the monster movies, Universal, now considered mostly as a B studio released The Wolf Man. Not excepting it to be much of a success due to the recent failures that the genre had produced and the fact that the release date was just five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Universal was surprised to see that the movie was a runaway hit, quickly raising The Wolf Man to the third spot in the studios monster roster.
One reason for the movie’s success is due to its escapism affect it had on the public, who went to see the movie to forget about the drama that was happening in the real world. Another aspect that Universal did not count on was having Lon Chaney Jr as its
Just a few years prior Chaney Jr made himself a name in the industry for his performs in Of Mice and Men (1939), which many believe is the best supporting actor of that year, even though he was not even nominated. This though was his first big hit as the lead and it propelled him to the ranks of Lugosi and Karloff. Chaney would later say that the wolf man was
Outside of Chaney, the acting is pretty dull, once again, being perceived as a B picture, many of the actors were still novices, except for Rains who had just come off one Oscar nomination for his work in Mr. Smith goes to Washington (1939) and one year prior to his second nomination for Casablanca (1942).
The acting isn’t what the film is known from anyway though, it is the wolf makeup that the legendary Jack Pierce did that was the real star. Pierce, the wizard behind all the classic looks, spent four hours day applying the legendary look, many consider this as one of his best jobs.
Once again, although the acting in this movie for the most part isn’t very good, this is a film is a must for fans of the horror genre. As I have stated earlier, The Wolf Man has become the third most popular of the Universal monsters, so might as well see