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The Wolfman

wolfman4

1940

Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot/the wolfman. The son of actor Lon Chaney of course. Chaney Jr. made a splash playing Lenny in Of mice and men, but his role in the wolfman would launch a long although up and down career in horror films for him. The only guy to play Universal’s Wolfman during this run and the only guy to play the big four monsters for Universal (Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstien’s monster and the mummy).

Evelyn Ankers as Gwen a local girl who works in a shop and is already engaged, but that doesn’t totally stop Larry’s advances. Ankers did around fifty films between the mid 30’s and the early 50’s before retiring to be a housewife. She did a number of horror/monster films, but this is likely her most known role.

Claude Rains as Sir John Talbot father of Larry and owner of lots of land. Rains was a British born actor who was in the business for almost fifty years. A four time academy award nominee he was in Casablanca, The invisible man, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, The adventures of Robin Hood and tons of other films.

Also in this one are horror legend Bela Lugosi in an all too brief role as Bela the gypsy. Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy woman. Ralph Bellamy is in this one too and he would go to actor for several more decades after this.

220px-The-wolfman

What’s this about? Larry returns home after his brother has died. He visits his dad who appears to be of a different nationality and doesn’t appear old enough to be his dad, maybe this is why they didn’t get along so well. Anyways Larry is going to stay for a little while. He then gets the hots for local Gwen and even buys a silver wolf walking stick from her. Hey that could come in handy later. Lets all get our palms read by the visiting gypsy, that will be a gasser. Bela the gypsy sees a pentagram on the hand of Gwen’s friend Jenny. Soon Bela turns into a wolf awhowhowhooooo and he kills Jenny. Larry kills Bela in wolf form with the silver part of his cane, but not before getting bit. Oh dude that can’t be good. Maybe Larry is a killer or maybe not. Soon Larry’s feet get all fuzzy under the full moon and he goes werewolfin’ across the foggy woods. The villagers who believe such stuff panic, but the police and Sir John’s employees are more steady and go in pursuit of whatever this is. Larry does some killing and has vague memories of what he did once he turns back to his human self. Eventually he goes on a fuzzy rage, but his daddy whops him with the silver part of the cane – bob bop bop, take that fuzzfoot! Larry dies and turns from fuzz covered snarling killing machine back to normal guy. Are you kidding this film made money so you know he will be back again. Roll the credits.

larrygwen

The negatives- I was rarely thrilled by Chaney Jr. unless he’s playing a monster. He is okay as Talbot but not great.

The positives-Claude Rains was always good and this is no exception. Chaney was a great wolfman even if I wasn’t by his Larry Talbot. The film has a solid supporting cast. The whole legend angle is great and many films for decades tried to copy it. The wolfman make-up is good for the time. The foggy woods look fantastic too. I live in an area that can get thick fog on summer nights and it always makes me think of this film. Definitely a classic film.

I may have seen this when I was really little, but I’m not sure. The first time I remember seeing it was when I was 16 on Count Gore De Vol’s Creature Feature and I was very much into it. I watch it several times a year and my son likes it a lot too. We watched it on Svengoolie last night so I decided to put up a review while it was fresh in my mind.

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About markmc2012

I have watched far too many horror and sc-fi shows in my life. Now I feel the need to share this wealth of knowledge and make others suffer.

4 responses to “The Wolfman

  1. Excellent write up. Love this. It’s my 3rd favorite Monster movie (behind Bride of Frankenstein & Frankenstein). I love Chaney and find him underrated. Agree on Rains. He was brilliant.

    I reviewed this as well a while back when I was focusing on the Monster movies. 4.5 out of 5 was my rating.

  2. Thanks. With some old Universals I see some holes with repeated viewings, but with this film every time I see it I find something more to like about it.

  3. Foogos

    You forgot the greatest positive to come of this movie: I saw Lon Chaney Jr walking with the queen, doing the werewolves of London.

  4. Whenever I heard Warren Zevon singing that the stickler horror fan in me thought “Chaney Jr. wasn’t in Werewolf of London, Henry Hull was” and that always made me not much of a fan of that song.

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