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. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lon Chaney Jr's signature role is still one of his best performances. 'The Wolf Man' is an undisputed horror classic.
Lon Chaney Jr lived under the shadow of his famous father, but in 'The Wolf Man' he helped create a horror icon that has lasted for over sixty years. Chaney had already shown that he could act in 'Of Mice And Men'(1939). In 'The Wolf Man' he gives another excellent performance, but this movie was both a blessing and a curse to his career I think. It forever labeled him a horror actor, and frankly he made a lot of lousy movies after this. Some good ones too, don't get me wrong, but too often he was given b-grade material to work with. Maybe his drinking problem had a lot to do with it, I don't know, but apart from a strong cameo in 'The Defiant Ones'(1958) and a great performance in Jack Hill's cult classic 'Spider Baby'(1964), he rarely was given a role as good as Larry Talbot in this movie. Chaney is surrounded by a very strong supporting cast including horror legends Claude Rains ('The Invisible Man') and Bela Lugosi (sadly only a cameo), Ralph Bellamy ('His Girl Friday'), and frequent costar Evelyn Ankers (she and Chaney made a great on screen couple but apparently hated each other off screen. Such is Hollywood!). Many people complain about the casting of Rains and Chaney as father and son. I agree it's totally unrealistic, but I don't think it hurts the movie at all. The lack of Lugosi is a bigger problem. There was more footage of him but unfortunately it wasn't used in the final cut. It's too bad as more scenes between Lugosi and Chaney would have been a treat. Of course they worked together a few times after this, but mostly in lesser movies. The real scene stealer in 'The Wolf Man' is Maria Ouspenskaya who plays the gypsy woman Maleva. She's just terrific, and gives the most memorable performance after Chaney. 'The Wolf Man' has had an enormous influence on just about every subsequent werewolf movie. Much of the lore seen on screen here isn't in fact traditional, as many people assume, but created by the talented Curt Siodmak ('Donovan's Brain') who subsequently wrote the horror classics 'I Walked With A Zombie'(1943), and 'The Beast With Five Fingers'(1946). 'The Wolf Man' is an undisputed horror classic, and just as entertaining and interesting as it ever was.
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