harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
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harsens_rob

Review of 'The Wolf Man'

The Wolf Man

Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, and of course Lon Chaney.

(1941)



Scene 01: Following the credits, we open on a zoom shot onto a row of encyclopedias. A man's hand grabs a volume and pulls it from the rest. We watch the hand flip through some pages, before we fade into a close up of the page. The entry of interest of 'Lycanthropy' (Werewolfism).

The shot holds long enough for us to see that the entry references Talbot Castle specifically, where this story will take place.



Scene 02: We now fade into Lon Cheney in a car being driven somewhere. The back projection is awful, as we might expect from the '40s. Lon sees off in the distance his ancestral (model) home. The chauffer points out that they are nearing Talbot Castle and calls Lon, Mr. Larry. Larry seems happy to be arriving.

Scene 03: At the front of the homestead, Larry Talbot is met by a butler and his father, who welcomes him back.

Scene 04: Larry comments that things haven't changed much and his father agrees that little has changed in their home for 300 years. He introduces a man waiting in the foyer, Colonel Mumford, who enthusiastically welcomes Larry home as well. Paul is the Chief Constable and had grown up with Larry and quickly leaves, having just stopped by to greet him.

Larry and his father go over to the huge fireplace, above which is a painting of Lon Cheney, but Larry refers to this as John - obviously a now deceased brother, going by the sympathy that Larry expresses to his father.

We quickly get this confirmed when Sir John tells Larry that it's a sad commentary on their relationship that it took John's death during a hunting accident to bring him back home.

Anyway, Larry had left home for the U.S. because his brother was in line to receive everything, anyway.

Commentary: If you think these scenes are filler until the werewolf can show up, take a look again. With some subtle dialog and body language, Lon and Claude succeed in sketching out their characters' relationship as being strained in the past. It's obvious here that Larry is almost desperate to re-connect with his father, and even though Claude says there will be no more 'reserve' between them, Larry still uses the term 'Sir' to his father and both men still depend on handshakes rather than embraces to signify that they'll put the past behind them.

From the foyer, Sir John notes a crate being delivered on which is stenciled, 'Glass'. Sir John is pleased, as it is for his new telescope.

He tells Larry to follow him up, so he can show him the new device....

Scene 05: Up in the attic cum observatory, Larry has installed the new lenses, impressing his father. They discuss what Larry has been doing in America. Once Sir John leaves again to 'attend to a few things before lunch', Larry uses the telescope to check out the town below. He spies upon Evelyn Ackers through her bedroom window, putting on an earring and looking out at the town square. He's instantly smitten. Shifting the scope downward a bit reveals that she is living above an antiques shop.

Commentary: And the short scene between Larry and Sir John here tells us so much about the father-son dynamic. That Sir John has had such little contact from Larry that he didn't even know what his son was up to in America says volumes.

Scene 06: Larry travels down to the village and enters the antique shop to meet the beautiful lady from the window. Being the 40s, we're probably supposed to see this as sweet, instead of as stalkerish. You have to put yourself in the era, or a lot of Larry's behavior will look creepy and dangerous instead of 'cute-meet-ish' the way it's meant....

Anyway, in the shop, Larry pretends to be interested in earrings for the shopgirl. When she pulls out their assortment, he tells her that he's more interested in a particular looking earring, which she claims that they don't have, but he corrects her telling her she has a pair on her dressing table in her room (see - this isn't supposed to come across as creepy stalker).

Larry quickly moves onto shopping for a walking stick, but really he can't get his eyes off of Evelyn - who's character is Gwen Conliffe. Gwen seems intrigued that this stranger knows about the earrings that she isn't currently wearing (rather than creeped out, say). Gwen tries several of the canes, but Larry picks out an interesting stick with a wolf's head made of silver. On the rear of the head sits a motif of a wolf imposed over a star. He asks her what it means and she banters that she thought he was psychic.

When Larry balks at paying $3 for the walking cane, Gwen points out that it's rare. That the wolf is over a pentagram, the sign of the werewolf. She then quotes a folklore saying about the wolf and moon (which will get repeated several times):

"Even a man who is pure of heart
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms,
And the autumn moon is bright."


From the folklore, Gwen also mentions that the pentagram is a sign connected to the werewolf and is supposed to see it on the palm of the hand of its next victim. After a bit more banter/flirting by Larry he tells her that they can discuss things more (like how he knew of her earrings when she doesn't remember ever seeing him before) later that night. That he'll swing by and pick her up for a night stroll at 8pm. She says 'no' rather firmly, but Larry doesn't want to take that as an answer.



Gwen's attention is taken by the sound of a wagon going through town. This wagon belongs to Maria Ouspenskaya and Bela Lugosi, as gypsies who will be setting up a temporary encampment on the outskirts of town and will begin the tragedy we're in store for....

Gwen and Larry watch the gypsies pass through town, and Gwen mentions that they pass through every autumn... oh, oh, it's autumn - and I'll just bet that there's going to be a full moon sometime soon, too.

Larry invites Gwen out to the gypsy camp that evening, but she repeats 'no' - though I have a feeling it will do her no good. Larry seems quite persistent (but, uh, not at all stalker-like, I'm sure). He tells her, 'fine, I'll be here at eight'.

Scene 07: Back at the castle estate, Larry is in his father's office. Larry and his father talk about the legend portrayed on his cane, which gives Sir John a reason to quote that folklore poem above again. Sir John is glad that Larry has been getting to know the people in town since he'll one day be responsible for taking care of 'his people' from the estate, though the amused look on his face suggests that he's very aware that Larry's interest is less in the town than in Gwen, herself.

Sir John bids goodnight to his son and sends him off to his 'date' with Gwen.

Scene 08: Gwen leaves the shop, looking about curiously (but not for Larry, of course... uh-huh). He peeks from a doorway and then comes up to meet her. But though it's apparent that Gwen is going to the gypsy camp with him (to have their fortunes told), she's also invited along a girlfriend to act as chaperone so things won't look torrid. Jenny takes one of his arms while Gwen takes the other, so he isn't really too put out.



As the friend, I have a feeling that Jenny Williams will turn out to be doomed, but let's see....

Scene 09: With a screen wipe, we see the threesome making their way through the misty woods to the gypsy camp. Jenny and Gwen spot a bush of wolfsbane blooming near a tree, but alas, don't pick up on all of the signals telling them that they are in danger. Jenny does get a chance to repeat the oft-repeated poem about werewolves, though.

Scene 10: In the gypsy camp, Jenny excitedly asks Bela if he can truly read the future to which he tells her he won't disappoint her. Gwen and Larry allow Jenny to go in first to have her fortune told.

Scene 11: In the trailer, Bela has Jenny cut a tarot deck. In the meantime, Larry takes this opportunity to get Gwen to take a short walk with him out into the woods where they can talk and get better acquainted. In the thick fog, Larry confesses about seeing Gwen with the telescope's refractor, but tells her that he was testing the new lens and didn't look into her room on purpose when she is at first startled and embarrassed.

Gwen and he lightly flirt, but then she drops the bombshell that she's actually already engaged, pointing out that she shouldn't even be there. Larry doesn't appear to be about to let an little thing like an engagement mar the evening....

Scene 12: Back with Jenny, she nervously watches Bela looking over her card spread. She asks him if he can tell when she'll be married, but something that he's seen has upset him. Jenny hautily asks him what he's seen when he doesn't immediately respond. He asks to look at her palms, instead of answering her question directly. On her right palm, signifying her future, Bela sees the outline of a pentagram appear and then vanish and we know from earlier that this marks Jenny as Bela's next victim (he's a werewolf, obviously). His reaction causes Jenny to be afraid.



She asks him what he's seen, but he brushes her off, telling her to come back the next evening instead. She isn't buying his "I see nothing" claim, especially when he tells her to go... go quickly... and is in a state of obvious panic. She dashes off into the mist and woods, scared out of her wits.

Bela throws his hands over his face, while nearby a horse begins to act up, panicked. Maleva senses that there's trouble ahead. Out in the fog, Jenny is running when she hears a loud, horrible howl....

Commentary: I like this scene for its mood and atmospherics... the cinematography throughout the picture is beautiful to look at.

Scene 13: At the tree that Larry and Gwen have been speaking near, the two react to the howl, but as they're trying to decide what it was they just heard, they clearly hear Jenny's horrible scream.

Larry tells Gwen to stay put and he races off in the scream's direction.

Commentary: The way this whole scene is shot is terrific. It really will send the chills down your spine if you'll allow yourself to get into the atmosphere of the fog and the creepy woods and poor Jenny's panicked flight and her scream.

Scene 14: Gwen soon gets freaked out and follows after him calling his name. At that moment though, Larry spots Jenny lying on the ground, a wolf (or dog playing a wolf) tearing at her clothing. He tries to get the wolf off of Jenny, but this only causes it to turn on him next. Finally, he's able to throw the wolf off of him and then (off screen) beat it with his silver cane, killing it.

He stumbles away, having been bitten in the chest by the animal and collapses. In the meantime, Gwen is trying to find where he's run to in the fog. She finds him nearly unconscious and he only has time to whisper to her that it was a wolf.

Fortunately, Maleva is out in her buggy, looking for her wayward son before he can cause any harm (too late obviously) and Gwen is able to summon her over to help her.

Maleva and Gwen are able to load up the unconscious Larry Talbot (off screen - I'd really like to have seen Gwen in her heels and old Maleva try to pick him up and put him in that buggy) to take him home to the castle.

Scene 15: At the estate, Gwen comes in with the stumbling Larry while Maleva quickly takes her leave. Just after Larry expresses concern for Jenny, a villager arrives to report to Sir John that she's been found murdered in the woods. The Constable Chief happened to be there speaking to Sir John about Larry's being back so he rushes to check on Jenny Williams (the villager reports something happened to her throat) and also tells him that he'll send the doctor back to look at the younger Talbot.

Scene 16: At Jenny's body, Dr. Lloyd reports to the Chief that Jenny's jugular was severed by a set of powerful teeth. Nearby, Bela's body is also found and Dr. Lloyd identifies a crushed skull as the cause of death for him.

Next to Bela's body, they find Larry's wolfhead walking stick.

Scene 17: The next day, Larry awakens in bed. His father, Chief Mumford and Dr. Lloyd visit him to discuss what happened the previous night. He's asked to identify the stick found at the scene of the attack and he confirms that it is the stick he beat the wolf with.

Sir John informs Larry that Bela the Gypsy fortune teller was found with his stick nearby, but no wolf. In addition, when Larry tries to show the men his wound from the wolf attack to prove what had happened, he finds the wound gone without a trace.

The others look at him with suspicion. Sir John wants Paul to be allowed to question his son to straighten out what exactly happened out in that wood, but Dr. Lloyd intervenes, telling the others that Larry should rest. Which is probably a good thing, considering that he's insisting he killed wolf, and all they found was a man with his head stove in... it doesn't look good for Larry.

Commentary: And notice that it's the Doctor intervening on his behalf instead of father....

Scene 18: With the three authority figures meeting in the drawing room, Sir John suggests an explanation for the disparity in his son's account. His theory is that Jenny was indeed attacked by a dog or wolf, that much is proven by her wounds. He suggests that his son and Bela rushed to her aid and in the pitch darkness and confusion, Bela was accidentally struck in the head by his son as he sought to drive the wild animal away.

It makes sense, except that Larry is showing no signs of a wound that he claims to have received from the non-seen by anyone else wolf. The three agree that Larry won't be questioned until released from the doctor's care for his nerves while Sir John (rather callously) notes that Bela is dead and there's nothing to be done about it and after all, he's got all eternity for the Constable Chief to investigate the exact circumstances later.

Commentary: There's a very slight whiff of colusion here between those holding authority vs. 'the peasants' in the way this scene plays out. In addition, Sir John's attitude here isn't exactly uncaring, but there is certainly a feeling that comes across that the real tragedy here was the local, Jenny and that the gypsy's demise was just one of those unfortunate things. It's not baldly stated in the dialog, but watch this drawing room scene and see if you come away thinking that if Jenny wasn't involved the situation would have been quickly swept under the rug and forgotten.

Scene 19: We screen wipe to a wagon carrying a coffin in front of a cathedral. The coffin contains Bela and is being delivered to a crypt in town. Larry is nearby and follows the grave attendants. Watching the scene, two old biddies make the comment that Larry is the one who killed the gypsy and they turn their noses up at him and scurry away.



After the two grave men leave, Larry opens the viewing panel in the casket to look at Bela, but before he can deal with his reaction, he hears a priest insisting that they can't bury Bela without prayer. Maleva insists that he must be buried within their own customs which is to celebrate his life, not to mourn him with sorrowful prayers. The priest is naturally appalled by her 'pagan ways', but she rightly points out that this is the way they've done things for a thousand years and she couldn't waive aside their traditions even if she wanted to. The priest leaves her to visit her 'son', while Larry looks on.

Once she has left, Larry bends over the casket and weeps.

Scene 20: Back at Gwen's, she is grieving for Jenny as her father seems to be more concerned about whether Gwen can be accused of any sort of wrong doing in the events of that night. After telling her father she doesn't want to be alone, he gives her an "of course, of course" and then immediately leaves her sitting alone! Thanks Dad!!

Into their shop, comes a group of ladies in black, one of which is Jenny's mother. Gwen is easily able to overhear her demands that she explain why she left Jenny alone that night. Her father tells her that he's sure she just didn't want to listen in on her daughter's fortune, but the mother starts to say that her real reason was to go off walking with... Gwen's father interrupts, warning her not to impugn his daughter's innocent actions.

The ladies then turn on him for allowing Gwen to walk out at night with men not her fiance, basically implying that Gwen was acting like a tart. Jenny's mother insists that its all Gwen's fault that Jen was killed and her father tries to insist that the bitter woman leave with her gaggle of old crones.

At this point, Larry enters the shop just as Jenny's mother demands that Gwen explain what she was doing out in those woods while her daughter was being killed, but Larry speaks up and insists that she ask him, instead. The lady immediately clams up (he is heir to Sir John, after all) and when Larry demands she say what she has to say to his face, she leaves instead but not before telling Gwen's dad that he hasn't heard the last of this.



Commentary: Notice that Larry is carrying around his walking stick, still, too - isn't that evidence?? It just adds to that feeling that Sir John's family is perceived as untouchable to the villagers. There's a very British sense of aristrocracy (at least as America perceives it) being above the concerns of the commoners that pervades throughout the movie, even when it comes to Jenny Williams' death.

Larry receives permission from Gwen's father to meet her in the parlor, after the elder Conliffe insists that he trusts his daughter and doesn't believe for one moment that anything tawdry occurred between the two of them.

In the parlor, Gwen and Larry talk. He apologizes for the mess that they're sitting in and gives his condolences for Jenny's loss. They're in the midst of trying to figure out what exactly happened between Larry's claims of a wolf and the fact that Bela was the one found dead when Gwen's fiance arrives at the shop to see her. He also wants a word with Larry, so is glad he happens to be there.

Frank Andrews has a dog with him and the pooch immediately starts barking up a storm at Talbot and won't stop until Frank drags it away. Gwen and Larry talk about Frank as this is the first time they've met one another and obviously Larry wasn't happy to discover her plans to be married.

Larry tries to shake Frank's hand when he comes back sans dog, but Frank's gaze is (overacting alert!) glued to the walking stick which is generally known by now around time to have bashed Bela's head in. Larry quickly makes his exit, so that the two married-to-be's can speak alone. Frank tells Gwen she needs to be careful, first because they walk in two different circles and secondly because there is 'something tragic about that man' and he fears that she'll only suffer harm if she gets too close to him.

Commentary: I'd like to point out here that Frank does seem to be worried about the class difference more than any sort of jealousy over her being out the previous night with him. You really don't get the sense that he believes that Gwen acted inappropriately at all which is nice. Among those who know her, Gwen is never treated as being 'a tramp' for going to the gypsy camp with Larry -- perhaps part of the very reason that she had Jenny with her in the first place.

Scene 21: An unspecified amount of time later and despite the recent tragedies, a fair is in full swing. I believe this is the gypsy camp, but if so there's far more people now. Gwen is present with Frank and they both see Larry there as well. In a show of not being jealous, Frank invites Larry to spend the evening with them since he's there alone, but Larry tells him he was actually about to head home.

Frank insists there's no reason to call it an early night and with Gwen's prompting, Larry decides to stay a while longer. Frank and Larry grab up bee-bee rifles at a skeet shooting tent. In the meantime we see Sir John and Colonel Mumford keeping an eye on Larry.

Larry proceeds to shoot at the figures popping up, until a wolf springs up. He hesitates with a seemingly traumatized reaction and when he does take the shot, he ends up missing the target, leaving it to Frank to shoot it down. He quickly leaves, confused and upset.

Scene 22: As he makes his way through the camp, Larry hears Maleva's voice calling to him but snippily says he isn't looking to buy anything. She responds with "I have nothing to sell. I expected you sooner."

She directs Larry into her tent, where she informs him that he did kill Bela, because Bela and the wolf he brained were one and the same. Larry insists that he knows the difference between a wolf and a man and he killed an ordinary wolf and nothing more.



But, Maleva insists he take a pendant with a pentagram to help his resist the spell of the werewolf.

Commentary: Lon Chaney gets some guff for the b-movies he got stuck in (so does Bela for that matter) but he really puts in a good performance here with the gypsy, who's accent really helps out as she's going on about the werewolfism. There's something very intense about Ms. Ouspenskaya that really helps her sell the whole mythology (and remember that this was before the werewolf 'rules' were set in stone - much of what we assume is lycanthropy lore was actually made up FOR this movie!).

Larry has had enough of her crazy talk and goes to storm out, but she stops him by telling him that anyone who was bitten by a werewolf and lives, becomes a werewolf. She points out that if he was bitten by Bela, that he will change and again gives him the pendant (which he refused at first) to help him resist.

Commentary: Again, there's some great chemistry in this simple two person scene between Maria and Lon.

Scene 23: After Larry Talbot leaves the tent in a rush, all under the suspicious watch of Mumford, Maleva goes to one of the other ladies in camp and whispers something we do not hear. Immediately, the woman goes to another and whispers a message and so on....

Scene 24: Gwen, wandering around again, bumps into Larry as he's trying to leave and in the background you can see the gypsies packing up to move out - obviously under Maleva's instruction.

Gwen tells Larry that she had a quarrel with Frank and he left, so he offers to take her home. As they walk, Gwen notes the necklace he's wearing has a pentagram and he informs her what the gypsy said about him being a werewolf. He gives her the charm for protection, and it's unclear if he is believing Maleva's tale or not.

Larry leans in and kisses Gwen, but then the racket behind them catches his attention as he notices that the gypsies are very quickly tearing down their tents and packing up. Gwen also takes off, upset that she allowed him to kiss her (she is engaged, remember). Larry grabs a passing gypsy to ask what they're doing and he (not knowing who he's speaking to) responds with "there's a werewolf in camp!"

The young Talbot responds by looking like he's wondering if he's losing his mind.

Scene 25: Spinning images, Maleva's face, dreamy - nightmare spirals... Larry has a freak out and rushes home. In his bedroom, he rushes to a mirror and checks himself our for any changes, but sighs in relief when he doesn't see anything out of the ordinary. At least at first... but suddenly he reaches down and rubs his leg. When he sits in a chair to lift his pant leg, he's startled to see long hair growing out!

He pulls off his shoes in a panic and is horrified to see his legs and feet changing before his eyes....



We watch the pair of wolf feet stand up on tip-toes and stride across the room....

Scene 26: Out in the perpetually foggy woods now, the werewolf feet are still walking. Finally, we get a camera-pan-up and catch our first sight of the Wolf Man stalking the night.



A short distance away, in a cemetery, a burial guy is working on a plot (alone? in the mist covered night??). He takes a break to light up a pipe and behind him hears the howl of a wolf...

Scene 27: He turns around, and on his face and growing sense of terror and horror is evident!

Before he can do much more than wonder wtf, the Wolf-man is on him and quickly dispatches him. Following the attack, he let's loose with another bay at the night around him.

Scene 28: In the village's square, the eerie howls echo, awakening the menfolk who rush to the church yard to investigate. There, they discover Larry Talbot's victim and summon the doctor, who quickly ascertains that the wounds are very much like those suffered by the doomed Jenny.

Chief Mumford quickly locates animal tracks leading from the body and identifies them as a wolf.

Scene 29: We comes back from a fadeout of the Constable looking off toward where the wolf prints were leading, to a set of wolfprints made of mud on a windowsill. The sun is shining, so we're on the morning after the gravedigger's mauling.

We follow the muddy tracks to Larry Talbot, lying on top of his bed. He's fully dressed, but for his bare feet.

Commentary: One of the unfortunate things about this being a 40's movie is that the Wolf-man retains so much of his human shape... allowing Larry to run around changing back and forth without any sort of damage to his clothing. Now, I have zero interest in seeing Lon undressed, but at least tearing up his shirt would have gone a long way in suggesting the violence of the werewolf coming out of the man.

This may have been a hold over of the original intent of the movie to keep the werewolf unseen throughout the picture. The original idea of the script had been for the audience to never be sure if this was 'real' or just a murderous delusion of an unhinged Larry Talbot. Universal wanted a real monster however, and thankfully that's how the script was restructured.

Scene 30: Larry awakens confused on his bed and checks his legs for their excess hair, but all appears normal again. Normal, until he opens his shirt front and discovers a symbol on his chest... the pentagram (which actually looks more like a star in a circle throughout; it appears the make up artists didn't actually know what a pentagram was).

With a growing sense of panic, he spots and quickly begins to rub out, the mud tracks on the carpeting and at the open window.

He's barely cleaned off the sill, when he notes that Mumford is outside, following his tracks back to the castle (which is actually more of a manor house, but whatever). He quickly dashes away from the window, his fear over what he can remember of the previous night evident.



Scene 31: In the foyer, Larry comes down the grand staircase to find Sir John worriedly gazing through the windows. He's quickly informed by his father of the gravedigger's (his last name was Richardson) death the night before and that the tracks of the creature who had been the apparent cause lead the way to their home.

With a growing sense of dismay, Larry asks about the local legend of the werewolf and Sir John explains that its a form of schizophrenia. Larry's agitation causes Sir John to ask after what is bothering him, but Larry responds by asking if his father believes in the werewolf legend. Sir John expounds that the fantastic is just old legend (with the implication that some people, i.e. peasants, embrace such tales as a way of explaining things they find overwhelming), but that he does believe that a man can convince himself of nearly anything.

The conversation is interrupted by the sounds of church bells, necessitating Sir John and Larry having to go to Sunday service.

Scene 32: In front of the church, meanwhile, the recent deaths are the talk of the town. Mrs. Williams poo-poos the idea that there is a wolf at all wondering around the environs. She points out that there hadn't been any murders before Larry Talbot's arrival, but she's quickly hushed that she's coming close to slander by trying to make any connection. Mrs. Williams insists that "I know what I know" and mentions "murder in his eyes" when he confronted her in the Conliffe shop earlier.

She's hushed again as the Talbot car is chauffeured into view.

Scene 33: In the Cathedral (it's way too large and ornate for the word 'church') Larry hangs back from the pews receiving questioning looks from the townspeople before dashing back out before the sermon starts.

Scene 34: Later that day, Mumford, the senior Talbot, and Lloyd are in the manor's parlor again. Mumford is holding a plaster cast of the paw print found at the scene of Gravedigger Richardson's body. For some reason, Frank Andrews is also there. Larry comes into to them discussing the wolf problem, but Larry tries to man up by admitting there isn't a wolf. Larry tries to convince those present that they're dealing with a werewolf, but receives only jokes and rational explanations that Lycanthropy is a psychological abnormality only.

Commentary: Watch Larry Talbot near the end of the scene. Mumford has spent the entire thing in obvious skepticism of Larry's claims, but here, Lon spends an inordinate amount of time staring at him as the Doctor is speaking. It's interesting because if your following the dialog, you can easily miss that Larry is filling with hostility toward the Chief Constable as the scene continues.

Finally, the others begin to leave and Larry Talbot tries to speak to the doctor (to confess, is the impression) but Doctor Lloyd insists that he go and get some rest, instead, cutting him off....

Commentary: Is this more proof of the view of the aristocracy? It should be obvious to all gathered that Larry is unsettled, to say the least, and that his comments and questions regarding the werewolf are reflections of his true beliefs that there is a danger going on. With him being present near to Jenny's murder and more than likely responsible (even accidentally) for Bela's, you'd think that the Doctor would be more likely to hear him out here if he feels there's something he needs to talk about. Instead, he is quickly shuttled off to his room 'for rest'... and Dr. Lloyd was also the one to insist that Larry not speak to the Constable earlier, even after Sir John had given Mumford tacit approval to question his son. It strikes me that Dr. Lloyd has a powerful desire to see the aristocracy of the town as somehow better than the unseemly things occurring and that this affects his professional responsibilities to the others in town... or, I could just being seeing more in scene than the script intended.

Actually, the next scene seems to suggest that I'm not imagining things:

With Larry's exit from the scene, Dr. Lloyd insists to Sir John that the shocks of the past days has left his son psychologically maladjusted, but instead of wondering if Larry could be violent, he instead insists that he be sent out of village. Sir John refuses, wishing him to remain so he can 'prove his innocence' ...

Commentary: Again, interesting that Sir John is entertaining the idea that there is something to be proven, whereas the Doctor appears to refuse to entertain any notion that a member of the aristocracy could be involved as a matter of fact and ergo that there isn't anything to prove.

Elsewhere in the woods, laborers are setting and covering traps to catch the murderous wolf in the village's midst.

Scene 35: That night, the werewolf is again in the woods and howling, when he steps into one of the traps. Snarling and snapping his teeth, he stumbles along dragging the trap behind him, when his attention is caught by hunting enthusiast, Frank Andrews, leading a party in searching through the woods....



The men with their dogs are closing, so the werewolf tries to run, but the trap has him held tight on its chain by the ankle. He falls unconscious after a struggle to yank the foot free, as the dogs close in.

But as the men and beasts look for the wolf, Melava the gypsy has not left with the rest of her people. She shows up now out of the fog and hovers over the unconscious man... for Larry Talbot has now returned to human. She tells the unconscious man that she'll keep him from harming others just as she had tried to keep her Bela from doing so.

Larry awakens, and Maleva tells him that she is there to help him, but that he must hurry and free himself of the trap he's in.

When he does free himself, however, he leaves the gypsy crone behind and rushes off into the woods.

Scene 36: A few of the hunters catch him, but he explains he's there doing the same things that they are - hunting. They don't notice that he isn't shod because of the thick ground fog, nor do they question his not having any weapons and wandering the grounds alone.

Mumford does see Larry stumbling out in the fog, and you get an inkling that he's getting suspicious.

Scene 37: In the fog shrouded village, Larry is still stumbling around. He picks up some pebbles and tosses them up at Gwen's window. She rushes downstairs and let's him into the shop, where he tells her he has to leave. He admits that he killed Bela and assumes (correctly) that he also killed Richardson. Gwen insists he's no murderer and offers to fetch a bag and run off with him to help him, but he's afraid that he'll kill her next - to which she shows him she is still wearing the pendant that Maleva gave to him and he passed onto her.

Unfortunately, during their romantically charged dialog, Larry sees the pentagram appear and disappear on Gwen's right hand. Knowing now that he'll kill her if he doesn't get away, he runs from the shop.

Scene 38: Later that night, Larry begins to leave the manor, but his interrupted by Sir John. He confesses that Bela was a werewolf and that he is one, too. And, that he has seen a pentagram on Gwen's hand, marking her as his next victim. Sir John tries to rationalize, of course.

Sir John insists that Larry has simply gotten himself caught in a mental quagmire and insists that he get a hold of himself. Larry panics and tries to rush to his room when he hears the hunting party around the manor, feeling trapped now.

Sir John has had just about enough of this werewolf talk and berates his son for trying to run away from his problems. And when Larry mentions the gypsy woman, turns his scorn on her for filling his son's mind with gibberish.

Larry tells Sir John about falling into the trap earlier and Maleva's attempts to help him, leading Sir John to finally accept that his son has some serious problems that can't be waived away. But, he's also not about to let him turn himself over to Mumford and the village men. Falling back on his aristocratic nature, Sir John insists that no one can come into Talbot Manor and remove him and that he won't allow his son to leave.

Scene 39: Sir John sits Larry down on a chair and straps his arms to hold him in place overnight. With the windows locked and with plans to bolt the door, he feels that will prove to Larry by the morning that everything he is claiming is only a delusion in his mind, fed by the gypsy woman's tales.

Sir John is summoned to meet with Mumford downstairs, but before he leaves, Larry insists that he take his silver-headed cane with him....

Scene 40: Out in the wood, all of our main male players (excepting Larry) are in a blind, waiting for the "wolf" to stroll through the area where they have parties out to herd him. Dr. Lloyd asks whether Sir John gave his son the prescribed sleeping medication, but Sir John tells him what he did instead, wanting his son to be awake when they bring the wolf carcass in and finally do away with his ridiculous preoccupation with the werewolf legend.

And, yes, Sir John is carrying that cane around with him.

Scene 41: Sir John has wandered away out into the wood, where he is startled by Maleva. The two confront one another and Sir John tells her that he was headed back to spend time with his son, while she tells him that he was entertaining doubts that the werewolf tale could be true. Their terse confrontation is interrupted by the sounds of rifle fire back at the stand and Sir John rushes back in that direction, leaving the gypsy crone in her buggy.

Commentary: This is another excellently acted scene with Maria O. especially bringing her A-game in her confrontation of Sir John's skepticism.

Back at the stand, Mumford and Andrews insist they hit the creature in the fog dead on, but it has obviously gotten away from them somehow. Lloyd jokes that it takes a silver bullet to kill a werewolf as groups of men split off and head after the 'wolf'.

Back at the buggy, Gwen has found her way into the woods as well, trying to get to Larry when she hears the gunfire. Maleva tries to convince her to come with her, or the werewolf will find her. Gwen, instead, dashes off in the general direction of the gun stand (why she just didn't go to the manor, I don't understand).

Commentary: Actually, no one seems to use the road to go to the manor... it's always from the woods that people show up at Sir John's door. And, I suppose you could argue that Gwen hasn't gone directly to the manor due to Fate. The pentagram on her hand showed that she must be a victim of Larry Talbot....

As Gwen is running through the wood, the werewolf spots her!

Meanwhile, Sir John is also running through the wood....

Scene 42: The werewolf intercepts Gwen and with a scream, she's grabbed by her throat in its claws. After shaking the fight out of her and choking her some, the monster notes Sir John's arrival and drops Gwen before it can rip out her throat.



With a snarl, it rushes the senior Talbot....

And Sir John responds with the silver-wolf's-head cane as both go to the ground. In the meanwhile, the sounds of the Gwen's screaming has Andrews and Mumford rushing toward their location.

Maleva is also buggy-ing her way to the sounds of the fight in progress between John and Larry-wolf. Sir John gets the upper hand and begins to beat at the head of the werewolf (mostly off screen - we see enough to get that he's responding with savage violence with the cane).

Scene 43: Maleva arrives at Sir John's side as he stares in disbelief at the Wolf Man he's just beaten to a pulp. Melava repeats the poem that she said for her own son, Bela, earlier as the now-deceased Wolf Man becomes Larry Talbot.





The other men arrive to find Maleva rushing off in her buggy and Sir John kneeling in shock over his son. Frank Andrews rushes to the side of the just recovering Gwen.

Everyone grieves over Larry's fallen body, and Mumford suggests that he died 'rescuing' Gwen from the wolf, but we fade to black without a clear cut resolution to how they'll handle this affair (obviously Larry didn't die by wolf bite)....


The Good: The Pacing - The story is continually moving forward and even though there isn't a lot of werewolf attacks, I was never bored with the characters or their interactions. But those attack scenes are very tense, especially the doomed Jenny's flight and the stalking of Gwen.

Maria Ouspenskaya - What a powerful aura this woman has. Her scenes are magnetic, especially when she's praying over the fallen Bela and Larry and in her confrontation with Sir John.

The Direction - Considering how so many scenes are filmed on a set with fake trees and dried ice, the fact that they are eerie, and even scary is nothing less than brilliant work by the director, George Waggner.

The Mythic - This classic was strong enough to make up the rules of Werewolfism that largely continues to dictate how they're treated to this day. It introduces the full moon (in the poem, we never see the moon so it's unclear if it actually plays a real factor), the fact it takes silver to kill the wolf, the pentagram being seen on a future victim, the complete loss of awareness of the human while the wolf is in control, the fact that a werewolf's bite spreads the lycanthropy to any survivor of the attack and even the idea of the gypsy's role in the legend (usually this is expounded upon by it being a curse, where it isn't here, but their involvement begins here).


The Bad: I feel like some of Lon's acting borders on overacting throughout, but it seems to be in relation to whoever he's opposite. When he's acting across from Maria or Claude Rains, he's very good, while when he's with Evelyn, he seems melodramatic and it becomes distracting.

Maria Ouspanskaya's gypsy character's role is... haphazard. Her disappearance for a large portion of the film, only to suddenly re-appear close to the climax is unexplained. Was she hovering somewhere this whole time? If so why didn't she step in sooner to confront Larry? If not, why did she leave with the gypsy camp, only to return to hover in the woods? If she knew about the werewolfism of Bela, why didn't she do far more to keep him restrained during the full moon? If she knew Larry had been bitten and would become a werewolf, why did she just leave him to his own devices? There are too many questions that make her character's POV on the whole thing unclear and confused.


The Score: Despite the fact that the movie may be too slow for the modern audience and the lack of blood with these 'savage' attacks, I really enjoyed watching this one. I liked the character interactions between Larry and Sir John, as well as the Larry/Maleva scenes and Maleva's confrontation of Sir John knocked my socks off because of Maria O.'s intensity in the deliverance of her dialog. Despite Bela's small role, his reactions to seeing that he's a danger to Jenny were very well acted. I really dug the atmospherics and the tenseness of the stalking scenes.

My rating is 4.0 out of 5.

Tags: review the wolf man
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