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. Transformed by the full moon, Larry heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen Conliffe. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It wasn't the first werewolf movie (that honor goes to `Werewolf of London'), but it was `The Wolf Man' that gives us most of the werewolf mythology we still cling to today.
As with most classics, `The Wolf Man' draws its power from a combination of elements. First, there's Curt Siodmak's plausible and intelligent script. Siodmak said he was given a title, a star and a start date, and from there he consolidated and invented the werewolf myth into a cohesive, logical format.
Then there's the actors, a veritable who's who of 1930s-40s Universal horror. Lon Chaney joins the pantheon on great horror actors on this one, playing the tormented Larry Talbot. He manages to give Larry a tragic quality, a man trapped by a curse he doesn't understand or deserve. Chaney also generates considerable chemistry with the luminous Evelyn Ankers, which is surprising considering the rumors that the two practically hated each other. And then there's the always-excellent Claude Rains, who doesn't look very much like Lon Chaney's father, but still exudes quiet authority and authenticity.
Topping off the whole package is a healthy dollop of atmosphere: foggy forests, Gothic mansions and crypts, colorful Gypsy encampments. Each bit of design enhances the sense of mystery and dread that surround Larry Talbot, and burns `The Wolf Man' into your memory.
I'll never walk a foggy forest at night again!
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