harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

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Movie Review: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man


Starring: Lon Cheney, Illona Massey, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill.
Directed By: Roy William Neill

Scene 01: Once the credits have completed rolling over a set of beakers with ice fog rolling out of them and over the screen, we open with a shot of the full moon between two trees, a thin fog in the air. We quick-cut to a plaque showing us that we're visiting the place where the "Dead of the Llanwelly" lie. Shifting our view, we see two men approaching the town cemetery. One carries a lantern, while the other has a spiked stick. As they pass through the gates, a crow perched nearby calls out, but is ignored.

Commentary: Good, moody atmosphere. This is a good start.

We follow the men, one it must be said is obviously reluctant, through the small burial grounds. Another black bird comes from off screen (as if thrown by a stage hand) as if to warn the men away, but they continue to a crypt. Our attention is quickly directed to the name carved in stone above it... TALBOT.

The men share a glance, with Mr. Reluctant looking particularly unnerved (or possibly just broadly overacting). Above the door of this crypt is an opening to keep it aired out and the obvious leader of this duo crawls into the Talbot crypt.

Scene 02: His not-enthusiastic partner hands the lantern through and then follows. Our two crack grave robbers waste several seconds shining the lantern at the names of previous Talbots before noting the huge sarcophagus in the middle of the room. Both men have such broad looks on their faces, it's actually funny. Finally the senior grave robber (for that is surely why they are here so late) reads the name of Larry off the plaque... and the entire monograph. Apparently, his so far silent partner can't read since he feels the need to read it out loud.

The gentleman pronounces this as the target they've been looking for. Finally the doofus partner asks about whether they might not have buried Larry without any money, but his senior partner poo-poos this. He tells him the whole village knows that the young Talbot was buried with his ring, gold watch and money in his pockets. Senior gets to prying at the heavy stone lid.

Scene 03: Junior states it's a sin to bury good money and we get a quick shot to the full moon through a small bevel-glass window in the crypt to set up what is going to happen. I'm sure you won't be shocked when we get there....

Scene 04: A cut back to our dynamic duo reveals that Junior is 'face-acting' for an Oscar-win. He admits to having the creeps and is worried about what the body is going to look like after "so many years", but Senior assures him there will be only bones left.  Finally the lid is heaved off and the men stand back (with Junior exceptionally overacting again) from the interior of the casket - which we see is filled with twigs of some sort.

The older of the two pulls out a handful of the branches, mystified, and then identifies them as wolfsbane. This gives him the chance he's been looking for to repeat the "even a man who's pure of heart...." which was repeated so often in 'The Wolf Man'.

After he says the last line, "... when the moon is full and bright"...

Scene 05: We cut to a shot of the full moon out the window. We cut to a shot of Larry Talbot's hand, and it isn't looking at all bony. In fact, except for the rather long nails, it looks pretty healthily normal.

The moonlight from the window is rapidly creeping up over the cold flesh. We see Larry looking pretty whole for having been buried "for years". In fact, Junior points out it looks like he's asleep. Senior says they should get on with things and tries to yank Larry's ring from his finger.

Neither man seems particularly bothered by the fact that a man who's been buried "for years" shows not a single iota of decomp, but they're presumably peasants, so maybe they just don't get how it all works....

As they're checking out their prize by lantern light, we see Larry's hand moving. He reaches out and grabs hold of Senior and begins yanking at his arm!

Senior tries to pry his hand free, looking like he's pooping his pants while begging Junior to help him. But the other man takes the smarter choice and gets the heck out of there, leaving his companion to his trapped horror. The lantern gets dropped and starts a small fire as the elder man continues to struggle. (The broken lantern/fire turns out to just be extraneous as the fire doesn't destroy any evidence and isn't referred to again.)

Scene 06: Junior flips himself out of the opening above the door and runs off from the cemetery, and naturally he does that thing where he trips and falls half a dozen times in his panic before he finally gets out of there. We fade to black....

Scene 07: Sometime later, but still the dead of night, a bobby walking rounds sees a pair of feet sticking out from behind some stacked up crates. At first he believes its a drunk, but the man in the street refuses to roust. When he shines his light into his face, we see it's Larry Talbot. The officer just sees a head wound - he police-whistles for assistance.

Scene 08: We cut to "Queen's Hospital", as we're informed by a wall plaque. Inside, a doctor and inspector inquires of the nurse about 'the patient' who, she informs us, has regained consciousness. The doctor informs her it's not possible that he could be awake and moving so short a time after his 'critical operation'. He rushes off to the patient room to see for himself (because the nurse is a woman, you know, plus she doesn't have the education necessary to recognize awake patients).

Scene 09: The doctor is shocked, SHOCKED, to see the patient sitting up and lucid... if a bit dopey looking. Dr. Mannering is also surprised to find that Larry is well enough to talk and displays no fever or pain in the aftermath of whatever accident befell him that required surgery.

We find out during questioning that Larry had been found with a skull fracture and that he is currently in Cardiff. He has no memory of how he was injured or of how is arrived in the town. When Dr. Mannering inquires as to his name, he reveals that he is Lawrence Talbot. He also recalls that he's from Llanwelly village. When he becomes upset that he can't remember what he is doing in Cardiff, the doctor insists he calm himself and rest.

Scene 10: A short time later, the Inspector is calling to the village to let them know that one of their residents has been in an accident.

Scene 11: Cutting to the quaint police station his Talbot's quaint town, one of the officers answers the phone on the wall. We cut back and forth between the two as the village officer reports to the town inspector that Larry was buried four years ago. He couldn't possibly have him in his hospital. The inspector informs Dr. Mannering (they appear to be in his office at the hospital still) that he has an imposter and makes to question Talbot further, but the doctor won't hear of it (and the arrogant way that these lines are delivered make me immediately dislike Doctor Mannering) and insists that whoever is lying in bed must have rest to recover.

Scene 12: That night, the full moon rises again and its light creeps across the floor and onto Larry's hospital bed (I swear the moonlight is a stalker with all this creeping it does!). Larry awakens suddenly and after several seconds of increasing agitation, sits up and stares at the moon out of the window. A thick cloud passed in front of it and he lies back down, looking distressed. He yanks off his head bandage and hits himself in the head in his sudden agitation.

Very quickly, the moon is back and shining its light upon him, again. He immediately calms as he stares transfixed at the sky, and we see that he is growing hair on his face as he begins to transform. Soon he is all wolf-man, baby.

Commentary: Now, we're only about 12 and a half minutes into the movie, but I gotta tell you, it feels like twice that long. What I really want to point out here, however, is what this movie implies about Bela, the gypsy werewolf who cursed Larry. Presumably, Maleva allowed her son to be buried, but according to this movie, he's not actually dead. Instead he is UNDEAD. This is interesting on a few notes: 1) Maleva went out of her way to help her son deal with his affliction (as she helped Larry later) but when he was struck down, she didn't bother to re-save him. Was she ignorant that her son wasn't necessarily as dead as he appeared, or did she just feel that he was at rest where he was in the ground? Also presumably, if Bela's grave was ever disturbed in future and he happened to be exposed to moonlight, he too would once again stalk the world. 2) I never really lumped werewolves in with the other undead - vampires and zombies. I also regarded them as beasts with alternate forms and advanced healing powers, but this movie clearly puts them in the undead category.

Anyway, Larry-wolf gets out of bed, opens a window and scurries out into the night.

Scene 13: The beat cop who had found Larry again sees him, this time unrecognizable dashing through town. For reasons unknown, he hurries over to the crates when he first saw Larry and where the werewolf has returned. I say 'reasons unknown' because we saw Larry-wolf quite well and he didn't look like someone I'd want to confront without backup.

The officer is quickly subdued and bitten in the throat by the Wolf Man. We see their shadows as the Wolf Man drags the unfortunate officer off screen....

Scene 14: The following day, the nurse and Doctor Manning are in discussion. She's found the large windows open to the air and a bandage lying on the floor. She tells the Doctor that patient Talbot must have done it in the night and we see Larry lying crossways on the bed, passed out.

The Doctor and nurse quickly help Larry get back into bed and cover him up, just as he shoots awake with a frightened look on his face. The Doctor sets about to calming him as the nurse goes to replace the bandaging/compress on his healing head wound.

Larry Talbot admits to the Doctor that the police must be called because he is a murderer. The Doctor sets to addressing Larry's post-surgical wound while the nurse is sent to summon the Inspector.

Despite the windows and the bandage and the obvious fact that Larry was ambulatory the night before, the Doctor insists to Mr. Talbot that he was in his room all night and that although there was a death the night before, it was several streets away and the unfortunate was killed by a wild animal attack, not a murder.

Larry insists here that he becomes a wild animal at night, and ergo, is responsible.

Commentary: Although I appreciate Larry Talbot's attempts here to take responsibility for his acts when he isn't in his right mind, he doesn't do himself any favors by trying to force the doctor and the Inspector that he is a werewolf. And Lon Chaney really overacts in the coming confrontation with the Inspector, so he really leaves them very little choice but to think he's delusional. If he was really worried about what he may do, you'd think he'd drop the werewolf explanation and just tell them that he has violent fits where he can't stop himself from savagely attacking people and leave it at that.

Scene 15: The Inspector's arrival leads to the Larry-overacts-in-his-desperation-and-insists-he-turns-into-a-werewolf scene. We get a condensed version of how Larry finds himself to be a werewolf here, and he also mentions Maleva, the gypsy woman, who he insists can verify that he's a danger to everyone around him. Naturally, he meets only skepticism with the Inspector insisting he provide his real name, since Larry Talbot was clearly dead and buried some time ago.

Larry realizes here that he can't die... at least not by normal methods. And here we get a expansion of the werewolf mythos, in which the Wolf Man is effectively immortal and can be placed in a dead-like state, but never truly killed.

Commentary: Which again leads to questions as to what Maleva feels about her son being buried somewhere, and the notion is unfortunately not followed up on in any way. I think the film makers really missed a chance here for Maria to put in some quality angst regarding her son, but obviously Universal was only interested in making a quick buck by promising a monster fight. I'm also glad that the werewolf immortality clause was largely dropped in future incarnations of the werewolf mythology. I have seen movies where its mentioned, but usually silver is taken as to causing permanent death, especially when delivered by someone who loves the werewolf's human personality. I think this adds more heft to the emotional angst for both the afflicted and the 'love interest', than the thought that you can only put the wolf into a suspended animation....

Doctor Manning insists that Larry go back to bed and rest, but of course, he recognizes that they think he's delusional. He tries to leave by making for the open windows of the clinic, but is wrestled into submission by three burly orderlies with a straitjacket.

Scene 16: The Doctor and Inspector are, again, in Dr. Manning's office. The doctor confides to the Inspector that Talbot is in fact a lycanthrope but under the mental disease definition of such. He believes himself to be a wolf. Before this however, the doctor claims that Talbot probably experienced the murder as well, but through psychic powers, not that he physically attacked the bobbie. According to the doctor, head injury patients can sometimes experience unusual phenomena.

Commentary: Because, a psychic flash of a delusional lycanthrope is much easier to swallow than that a mentally unstable patient slipped out into the night, killed the officer and then returned to his room??

The Inspector and the Doctor, feeling sympathetic toward "Larry Talbot", decide to go up to Llanwelly to find out who Larry truly is and to gain evidence to show him that he is not who he is claiming by checking the crypt for Talbot's body. Both men agree that the patient is unbalanced, but again, both show a refusal to take his confession that he murdered the street officer seriously.

Scene 17: Dr. Manning, Inspector Owen, local constable chief Guno and a local groundskeeper return to the Talbot vault, but find the door tampered with when it opens without a key in the lock. The groundsman points out that the lock on the vault has been opened from the inside.

Commentary: The title is really leaving the impression that this is a Frankenstein's movie, but actually most of it focuses on the Wolf Man, obviously. The set used for the Llanwelly cemetary is nicely moody, even in 'day'....

The gathered find a lack of Larry Talbot's body, but they do find Freddie Jolly, i.e. the elder tomb robber from the beginning of our story. The doctor reports that his jugular has been severed, causing him to bleed out. Guno reiterates what happened in the first film with the 'wild animal' that killed people a few years earlier. He also reports that Sir John Talbot thought he'd killed a wolf, but had accidentally killed his son instead. The Inspector wishes to question the elder Talbot, but Guno points out his burial crypt in the wall. He had died very shortly after his son from shock, guilt and grief.

The body is left where it is as 'evidence', and the gang of four leave (shouldn't someone stay to make sure the scene remains intact... eh, never-mind) and return to the station, where Dr. Mannering wants to see a photo of Larry Talbot.

Scene 18: Chief Guno digs up a photo of Larry and both visiting men state that there is a resemblance, though neither believes it could be the same man, of course. Still, they decide that Guno will have to travel to Cardiff with them to see if he can provide an ID for the patient. Doctor Mannering calls Queen's Hospital to check on the patient's status. As the doctor is on the line with another at the hospital, the Inspector inquires after the gypsy that Larry mentioned. Guno claims to vaguely recall her and points out that they make the gypsies register when they come through (which is really creepy to me).

In the meanwhile, Mannering finds out that the patient bit through his straitjacket in the night and took off from the hospital.

Scene 19: We cut to a gypsy camp, where Larry Talbot has somehow tracked them down. He asks after Maleva who happens to be there and is more than non-plussed to find Larry Talbot standing there (which answers a lot of questions I had about her feeling regarding burying Bela - obviously she had no clue that the werewolves are immortally undead). Larry tells a clearly afraid Maleva that he's come seeking her guidance in how to die permanently, but she states that isn't in her power. She can only guide him and try to protect him from himself as she did for her own son.

Maleva promises to take Talbot to a man she has heard can help him, even though the gypsies warn her that she'll be murdered by the wolf.

Commentary: And, unfortunately, though Bela's role in the last movie is mentioned prominently, the issue of his current status as not actually dead is ignored. Maria was a very expressive actress in this role and she really could have done wonders with such a weighty topic, if only....

Scene 20: Fade cutting to the gypsy woman and the werewolf in her horse & cart, traveling fog enshrouded roads through threadbare forests. We have a quick montage of the wagon wheels spinning and the background changing as the two travel toward a small mountain town.

Scene 21: Arriving in Vasaria, the duo stop in an inn. And like all villagers in a Frankenstein movie, the residents immediately act with suspicion to the arrival of strangers. Their reception doesn't improve any when Maleva asks after Dr. Frankenstein's whereabouts. In the meanwhile, Larry and a tavern girl are staring at each other oddly intently until Larry can finally tear his gaze from her.

The tavern keeper willingly points out Frankenstein's Castle up on the side of a mountain, but is generally hostile to the name being mentioned.

The keeper further tells our duo that Frankenstein was killed by a previous fire (in the Frankenstein's Monster series of movies to which this acts as a 5th sequel). Larry Talbot obviously takes this news badly as his chance at a cure for his condition is snatched away.

The tavern keeper is not at all sympathetic, however, insisting that the dead doctor was involved in all manner of murder and dark works. The keeper quickly insists they leave, as "we" don't appreciate "your kind" around here. One can only assume he means the gypsies in general who in the non-fiction world have always been generally poorly received as beggars, thieves and generally riff-raff.

Scene 22: Back in the wagon, Larry is inconsolable about both his lack of being able to overcome his 'curse' and in being unable to die to stop the wolf (he fails to mention just stabbing himself with a silver blade, being reburied and being 'as dead' like he was the past four years).

Alas, while traveling, a shot of the sky shows a full moon....

Both Maleva and Larry frightfully realize that the moonlight is causing him to being to change and he dives off of the cart and runs out into the wilderness. The gypsy tries to tell him to stop, but Larry is in the wood and isn't in any condition to understand nor heed her words as his attention is focused on the moon.

Maleva calls out to the werewolf, but it doesn't heed her and rushes off further into the forest....

Commentary: Interestingly, it also doesn't make to attack her, either. One wonders if it 'recognizes' her as 'non-prey'.

Scene 23: We cut back to the town that the duo had just left behind. A wolf howl is heard as we see a crowd of men walking along the street. In the arms of the tavern keeper is the limp body of the tavern girl which Larry Talbot found so fascinating.

The villagers discuss whether it could be the Monster of Frankenstein behind the death, but it is shot down by the police who report that the Monster was killed by the same fire as the doctor and its bones buried. A woman asks how they know it was the monster's bones at all, but the police reports that an animal killed the tavern girl, her throat having been savaged.

Another wolf's howl is heard over the town....

The villagers immediately form a posse to hunt down the wolf responsible for the girl's death.

Scene 24: The villagers scour the woods as the werewolf tries to avoid the crowd closing in on it.

One of the village men is able to shoot him (and none of them evince any sort of shock at the sight of the 'wolf' standing on two feet, by the way - well, I guess they're used to seeing monsters), but it doesn't stop the werewolf from retreating deeper into Frankenstein's mountains and closer to his abandoned castle. With the villagers nearby, the Larry-wolf retreats into a archway of the castle, but unexpectedly plunges through some weak ground and into a underground cavern, out of sight.

He makes some unsuccessful attempts at escape from what appears to be a hidden basement level of the castle (judging by the fallen beams lying around).

Scene 25: One of the villager's dogs catches their attention, and we find Maleva has also made her way to the castle's outskirts and is currently cowering from a dog handler.

She's confronted, but refuses to speak about the 'strange man that was with you' and is dragged back to town, where the police chief assures the gathered villagers that "they'll make her speak"....

Scene 26: The following morning, Larry is lying in the underground passage unconscious and in what must be freezing-ass water.

Commentary: I'd really like to slap somebody for the music choice in this scene. I don't know what they were trying to do, but it sounds odd. Like something you'd hear from a screwball comical scene about to be set up, or something.... Props to Lon for lying in that ice water face first, though. Or not... there's some steam coming off the water making me wonder if it was heated for his comfort.

Anyway, Larry rouses to find himself in a snow covered hole in the ground. After exploring for a bit and realizing he's trapped, he sees a wall of snow covered ice and starts brushing at away at it. To his amazement, he finds a man trapped in the ice. With a rock, he begins to bang at the ice and chipping away through to an air pocket where the man-thing stands.

As Larry watches, the Monster begins to stir and he quickly helps it to be free (for some really illogical reason).

Scene 27: Larry leads the monster deeper into the mysterious lowest level of the ruined castle. He reasons that Dr. Frankenstein must have kept records of his experiments and pleads with the monster to show him where they are.

Commentary: I want to take a moment to discuss the Monster here. The Creature was supposed to be able to speak in this one, if not as eloquent as in Mary Shelley's book, then at least enough to have a conversation with Talbot. However, because Bela Lugosi was brought in to play Frankenstein's Monster, it was felt that his dialog was made laughable because of his thick accent. Alas, filming was already completed when this revelation occurred, so much of his part was either cut out completely or edited judiciously. This explains why the movie's title bears his name first (or actually the scientist - even the movie producers started confusing Dr. Frankenstein with the name of his nameless monster) meeting the Wolf Man rather than the other way around - originally his part in the story was much larger. It's also sad that the monster here is given none of the nearly human pathos of Karloff's Creature... it's just a tall, dumb (both stupid and mostly mute) man-thing shambling about with a stiff kneed gait and its arms stretched straight out ridiculously. If Bela took this role in an effort to make up for turning down the original which became such a huge hit for Karloff, and if he had hoped to capture Karloff's magic with his portrayal of the monster - the finished product must have been a severe blow to his ego... literally any no-name could have played the part as it is shown here.

Scene 28: The stumbling monster leads Larry Talbot through the wreck of Frankenstein's laboratory (for reasons I can't fathom) and to a hidden iron chest containing the doctor's diaries.

Commentary: I haven't seen the prequels to this in the Frankenstein series, so I don't know if the Monster would know the details of where the doctor kept his journals, but it comes across as silly here. I do like how Talbot just leaves the Monster standing there as soon as he has the diary chest, though.

Talbot yanks out papers, which he doesn't bother to look at and then claims that the diary isn't there. He throws the crate aside, ignoring the Monster fumbling at his side. Larry does find a picture of Frankenstein's daughter, Elsa, however and resolves to speak with her.

Scene 29: We fade cut to an office, where Elsa questions that there has been a buyer for her father's abandoned castle estate, to which an unseen man confirms.

The man turns out to be the Mayor, who has contacted Elsa in regards to Talbot's (under the pseudonym, Taylor) inquiries. "Mr. Taylor" enters the mayor's office next to allegedly work out terms for the sale of the estate. The reason for the mayor's personal involvement become clear when Elsa is addressed as Baroness... the toady....

Larry asks to speak to the Baroness Frankenstein alone, to which the Mayor accedes after making sure to remind the Baroness that he'll be available as a witness to the contract of sale.

Scene 30: With the mayor out of the way, "Mr. Taylor" admits to his ruse to meet the Baroness, but her friendly demeanor quickly falls away when Larry admits his interest isn't in her family's land, so much as it is in her father's experiment records.

The Baroness tells Larry she doesn't have any of her father's diaries. And, if she had them, she would have already destroyed them. She tells him that her father was a great scientist, but all he did with that greatness was to bring terror to the family name.

Larry whines that he needs the records, but she reiterates she doesn't have them. She tells him the house burned down and she has never returned to that place and never shall. At that time, the Mayor interrupts just to see how things are going in the negotiations.

The Baroness doesn't admit to the fraud of Larry's, instead simply telling the Mayor that they couldn't reach agreement on the sale of the land. At that moment, music is heard from the town square and it's revealed that the Festival of the New Wine has only just begun. She reminisces about her childhood and decides to stay in town for the festival, since she already traveled there.

She looks out the window from the Mayor's office....

Scene 31: And we see the dancers dancing and merry makers merrying....

The mayor invites Larry to visit the festival as well, which he agrees to for some reason. After all, the Baroness already told him she can't help, and the way he says "I'll be there" it's like he has something to prove. Whatever.

Scene 32: That night, we have to waste time... er, festive-make..., with the locals and hear a hideous festival song. Our over-smiling singer serenades the taverner, who is also apparently the wine festival host. I suppose that makes sense.

Commentary: What's funny is that there is a lot of background singer vocals, but we never see them and the crowd never joins in the song even though I think the idea is that everyone is 'answering' the refrain of the folk singer. Wasn't there supposed to be some monster action somewhere in here? From the end of the last dialog to the beginning of the plot resuming, we spend 2 and a half minutes following this folk songster around which is about 2 minutes too long.

Scene 33: The merriment is interrupted by Larry reacting strongly against the folk singer when he sings that "life is short, but death is long". He makes a scene by launching himself up from the Baroness' table and shakes his fist in the singer's face.

Commentary: I think maybe we're supposed to understand Larry's predicament here and his fears over being an immortal monster, but really he just looks like an asshole here. Not to mention that everyone assumes he's the guest of the Baroness, so he's completely embarrassing her, as well... over a song lyric! At least he stops this dragging on song, though....

Larry's rant that he doesn't want to live eternally is interrupted when he spots Doctor Mannering, who apparently has nothing to do back at the hospital because he's been tracking down Larry throughout Universal-Europe.

Scene 34: Mannering is invited to the Baroness' table where Larry's deception to her starts to unwind. She's pulled away to dance before she finds why Mannering has been looking for Talbot, however, giving the men a moment to talk alone.

Dr. Mannering tries to convince Talbot to return to England to be committed to an asylum where he can be treated and possibly cured. Larry understands that his abnormality isn't psychological however, and refuses, insisting he's come to Vasaria to find a way to die.

Larry further explains that he believes Dr. Frankenstein's experiments with life and death could be the answer to really killing himself, while in the not-very-convincingly-hidden background, the tavern keeper overhears all and gets a sour look on his face.

Doctor Mannering tries to convince Larry that Dr. Frankenstein's work was never accepted by the medical community, but to no avail. In the meantime the Baroness returns to the table, just in time for screams to be heard from further down the street.

Scene 35: The town square erupts in screams and fainting women as the Monster strolls down the avenue. Many people deliberately seem to run into wagons and stalls so they can overturn them into a mess rather than do the obvious thing of running in the opposite direction of the Monster.

Larry reacts to the scene of chaos by grabbing the Monster's arm and goading it into a nearby wagon seat, where he also leaps aboard. He takes off for the castle with the monster dumping wine barrels in the path of the braver townsmen.

Scene 36: After a fade to black, we come back inside the tavern where a hunting party headed by the mayor comes in from chasing after Talbot and the Monster. They report their failure, but the tavern keeper is convinced they'll be found at Frankenstein's Castle's ruins. He also tells the others that they should drag the Frankenstein woman in for questioning, but the Mayor tells them that he can speak to her, mindful of her title.

He tells the others to stay put....

Scene 37: In the mayor's office, he fetches both Dr. Mannering and the Baroness Frankenstein with a request that she come to the tavern to talk to the other men in town. She seems nervous (as well she should) but complies with the summons.

Scene 38: Back at the tavern, the constable chief reminds the taverner that the gypsy woman is still being kept in custody. He leads a group of townsmen to the prison to interrogate her, while the taverner confronts Baroness Frankenstein.

The Baroness offers her help in leading a party through the castle's catacombs where she spent a lot of time as a child, but the taverner is adamant that as a Frankenstein herself, she isn't to be trusted. By the sounds of things, it appears that an unruly mob mentality is quickly forming.

The constable chief returns with Maleva in tow. The taverner accuses her, the doctor and the Baroness of all being involved in murder and demands that the mayor have them all arrested. But the mayor, attempting to keep control, insists that the strangers are not the town's problem. It is the monster they must destroy and their past attempt by turning to blind violence failed. He insists they must use their brains this time to come up with a plan. Dr. Mannering quickly steps in telling everyone that the Creature was created artificially and must be destroyed by the same means. The Baroness also quickly places herself on the villager's side.

Scene 39: Having turned public opinion to their side, Mannering and the Baroness lead Maleva up the mountain, where Talbot hears the doctor calling for him.

Maleva insists she saw fire smoke revealing they must be there. Talbot confronts them, but the Baroness insists she wants to help him. She offers to lead him to where the diary is kept. Maleva vouches for her sincerity, and Larry agrees. In the meanwhile, the Monster spys the group headed for the interior of the castle.

It briefly confronts them with a large wood log, but Larry is able to convince it to trust him that the others are friends.

Larry convinces the Monster that Dr. Mannering is there to help the Creature be well (apparently referring to the Frankenstein's Monster storyline in his series, again, I haven't seen them to understand exactly what they're talking about). The Baroness, after the initial shock of seeing her father's creation, calls the Doctor to stop fiddling with the Monster, while Larry reminds her she promised to retrieve the diary.

Commentary: There is the impression here that Elsa sees a little too much fascination by Dr. Mannering for the Monster, which is why she interrupts. In addition, as already mentioned this is much more a Wolf Man tale than a Frankenstein story. This scene is awkward for that reason as it tries to mesh two distinct plots that don't entirely fit well together. Having Larry confront a mad-doctor Frankenstein stand in and then having an iteration of the Monster make a late entry into the story as a way for the scientist to attempt to press the Wolf Man into a revenge scenario would have worked better than trying to make Larry the friend of the Monster as here. It's obvious that the two stories are clashing together rather than fitting together to weave a common narrative. Having a hint that Dr. Mannering will become the mad-scientist just doesn't fit well with his role in the Wolf Man story that he's played up until now. Maleva also doesn't fit in well with this last third of the story, spending a lot of time out of frame, apparently just sitting around bored at the ruins.

Anyway, Elsa retrieves the diary from a hidden alcove which the good Doctor was apparently able to get to before his untimely death in a previous Frankenstein tale. Larry, rather rudely, grabs it from her hands and clutches it with growing excitement and hope.

Scene 40: A bit later, it falls to Dr. Mannering to read through the scientific aspects of the diary with Elsa and Larry hovering nearby.

Commentary: And it's here that I suddenly realized how ill-fitting Maleva is fitting in with this aspect of the combined plot. She has no purpose at this point in a 'Frankenstein' story, and the plot is quickly leaving behind the 'Wolf Man' plot. In addition considering all of the snow and ice in this mountain, nobody seems to be bothered by the winter conditions. This despite not a stitch of cold weather clothing to be seen. No one has bothered to put on so much as a coat. Maria Ouspenskaya is the only one who seems to notice the set because she at least wraps up tightly in her shawl and occasionally shivers.

Dr. Mannering reads an entry about the monster also being immortal because of its charged up artificial life. Larry reaches a bit here to claim that if the doctor can find a way to drain off his own energy, it will kill him for good and he'll be free of his curse.

We get a shot here of Maleva, but I'm not sure of the point. I think she may be sad at the talk of Larry ending his life, but with no dialog it's hard to say what her viewpoint is of this development.

We do get a nice bit with Elsa Frankenstein here, though, who slowly closes her father's diary while Dr. Mannering is still reading. Larry has just insisted that the doctor repair the machines that Frankenstein used in his experiments (because, as we know, all doctors are also scientists and vice versa so it's no feat for a medical doctor to repair advanced electronics). Elsa's face says it all, really, but she further reports that she was afraid Dr. Mannering was being serious when he told the monster earlier that he'd help him.

Dr. Mannering looks over the machinery and moves inexorably into the 'mad doctor' that the Frankenstein portion of the plot requires.

Scene 41: Back in the town, sometime later, the delivery of machines through Vasaria has not gone unnoticed by the bitter tavern keeper. He asks his patrons what Mannering would need with the new machinery. He points out the obvious that Dr. Frankenstein also ordered in a lot of machines and opines that the English doctor is no better than the one they already had to deal with.

The mayor tries to calm the wild talk, but the taverner isn't having any of it. He opines that they should blow the dam above the community and drown all the people in the castle. The mayor warns him that if he wasn't 'a drunk' he'd take him seriously and order his arrest for conspiring to put the people of town in immediate danger.

Commentary: It should be noted that the Constable Chief is also at the table and doesn't appear in any hurry to intervene or put the kibosh on any such drunken threats either, and the taverner doesn't appear in the least bit intoxicated. It also seems odd that the mayor would council trust in Mannering, a man he doesn't know, after the experiences of the town. Especially, since there's been no indication that the Monster who the doctor promised to destroy has been. It's just not very credible that the townsfolk haven't already been up there to find out what the hell is going on in Frankenstein's lab.

Scene 42: We cut from the tavern keeper looking thoughtful to a shot of the dam above the castle. Panning down, we join Talbot, Maleva and the Monster waiting by the fireplace when suddenly the sounds of water are heard. This excites Larry as it is the sound of the stream going through the underside of the castle to turn the turbines used for electricity generation. He states the obvious, that this will allow the machines to work.

Commentary: And despite the fact that this is for the viewer's benefit, it has the effect of making Larry Talbot sound like a dullard.

Scene 43: We have another shot of the castle showing the water coming through it has increased substantially. We join Elsa Frankenstein as she joins Dr. Mannering in the reconstituted lab. She spies Larry warning the Doctor that he has to be ready to drain his energies that night so there will be no danger of another werewolf attack.

He passes Maleva on his way out, and she in turn witnesses a confrontation between Elsa and Mannering. Elsa insists that Larry should be locked up because he's insane and the doctor should focus on destroying the Monster, the way he claimed he would earlier. Maleva tells the two that Larry isn't insane and his wish to die is sensible.

With the powering up of the electricity generating machines, Elsa becomes afraid that she sees in Mannering the beginnings of the same type of obsession in his new found power that led to the ruin of her father and grandfather before him. He does nothing to inspire confidence that he won't be caught going down the same road.

Scene 44: Later that night, Larry and the Monster are strapped down between the electrical tower gizmo. Mannering consults Frankenstein's diary once more and has a sudden and ill-advised change of heart. Realizing he cannot destroy Frankenstein's work, he endeavors to see the Monster at its full power by charging it up (which, is just a stupid turn of events).

He charges up the machines after changing the connections between the Monster and Talbot. The sounds of the electricity generation awakens Elsa and she quickly puts on a robe and joins him in the lab.

I can't tell you what is happening here, but I think the gist is that he's draining Larry's energy, but instead of dispelling it along with the monster's, he actually feeding it back into the Monster. Apparently, he's come around to believing it's fine to murder a suicidal patient in order to pursue his new obsession with seeing Frankenstein's work completely powered.

Scene 45: In the town, the sudden activity in the mountains isn't unnoticed. While back in the lab, Elsa realizes that Frank Mannering is actually powering up the monster.

Commentary: And we get an unfortunate directorial choice of looking up Bela's hairy nostrils. Ew.

Elsa takes matters into her own hand to stop what he's doing by yanking on a switch, which somehow causes huge explosions to begin going off.

Scene 46: With smoke now billowing out of the Castle, we cut to a shot of someone else not about to stand by while perversions of science are occurring. We see the taverner with dynamite strapped over his shoulder scaling the mountain at the foot of the dam. Obviously he's decided that his idea of drowning everyone in castle Frankenstein was brilliant and means to carry it out now.

In town, the Mayor realizes that the taverner hasn't shown up in the spectator crowd....

After a quick cut showing the dynamite being set in place, we cut again to Larry Talbot, still strapped to his table. Despite being underground somehow the moonlight makes it through to him in the lab, and he begins to do his weird face twitching. In the meantime, the Monster breaks free of its own table, now energized thanks to Mannering's stupidity.

Mannering tries to fend the Monster off from him and Elsa, but is knocked to the ground as she screams. In the meantime, Larry is undergoing his change into the Wolf Man.

Elsa's screams capture the attention of the werewolf, who breaks his straps as Elsa starts to be carried away.

Commentary: First, the Wolf Man has only animal instincts, so why does he care that Elsa is being carted off. Second, why would the Monster want to cart her off, and where is it going? Third, with all of this commotion (including those sizable explosions) where the hell is Maleva?

Anyway, the Wolf Man launches an attack on the stuntman in Bela's place whose trying hard not to trip up the stairs over Elsa's long gown. Both creatures fall back into the lab. Elsa lies on the floor, having fainted (naturally) when the Monster scooped her up. As the monsters wrestle, we cut away to the taverner lighting the dynamite wick.

The Wolf Man comes out on the worse end, but they continue their battle allowing Mannering to come around and help Elsa away. In the meantime we get jump cuts to the dynamite wick burning down....

The dam blows. The monsters continue to fight, with the Wolf Man in the much weaker position. Elsa and Mannering, in the meanwhile, have escaped from the castle and into the mountainside while the raging waters approach where the monsters are unaware.

As Elsa and Mannering watch, the dam's waters strike the castle, quickly rendering it a crumbling ruin of a burned out ruin....

Commentary: There is some nice stunt work of the Wolf Man being tossed around the lab, as well as the ton of water slamming from above down on him and the Frankenstein's Monster. I also like the model work interacting and crumbling into the rushing flood waters of the dam.

Scene 47: We get a quick reaction shot of the townspeople seeing the raging waters on the mountain, but then cut to 'The End' titles.

Commentary: Which leads to the question of what happened to Vasalia, the taverner and most importantly, Maleva! My opinion is that the town wasn't in the direct path of the dam's waters (this is implied while the Mayor and the Taverner are arguing over blowing it up). The Taverner more than likely made it back to town, and it seems unlikely that he'd suffer any true repercussions of his actions. I'm sure the constable chief would thank him for taking out the Castle and the Mayor would likely make a lot of noise, but do nothing substantial about it. Elsa Frankenstein would also more than likely be too glad to be rid of the stain on her name to make any sort of fuss over finding and punishing who was responsible for the destruction of her castle, plus the intervention stopped Dr. Mannering's budding mad-scientist career. The brawling monster's fates are left up in the air, so that there could be sequel opportunities. Obviously both survived and turned up later in House of Frankenstein. There is no reason to think that Maleva wasn't in the castle, so one can only conclude that she's drowned or crushed in the aftermath and killed. The IMDB doesn't list any appearances for the character after this movie, lending credence to the fact she died here. We leave the movie too quickly for anyone to have a chance to mention it and we don't see her fleeing the way we do Mannering and the Baroness....

The Good: Lon Chaney, Jr. does his usual good job in leading us through Larry Talbot's tale for the most part.

The castle model work was well done, especially its destruction.

Some of the brawling work between the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster was well handled.

I thought Illona Massey did a wonderful job as the conflicted, but generous Baroness Frankenstein.

I also liked the work of Rex Evans, who played the tavern keeper and general doomsayer. I also appreciated his being the one to take action.

The makeup of the Wolf Man was well done, as it was in the original The Wolf Man.

The Bad: The Frankenstein Monster was largely ignored in the tale and when he did show up, he had little purpose.

The attempted meld between Frankenstein and The Wolf Man didn't work out well - the two's elements clashed together uncomfortably more than they merged into a cohesive story.

Maleva especially didn't work well after arriving in Vasaly. It was obvious she was given no reason to really be there and could really have used some scenes consoling or encouraging Larry Talbot's decision regarding seeking true death as a way to escape his condition.

Speaking of Maleva, it is unconscionable to introduce Larry's resurrection and then completely ignore the gypsy Bela being left to the grave.

Other Thoughts: I also find the ending very abrupt without any sort of follow up to the dangling character threads. Also, just how did Mannering get time away from the hospital to galivant across Europe after his patient, and where did he suddenly become expert in electricity? Combined with his very sudden conversion to wanting to 'power up' the Monster, it's just more evidence that the plot elements of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man were haphazardly forced to co-exist in the script.

Scoring: The movie isn't hard to watch or necessarily badly done, but there are a lot of points in the story where things sort of meander. A lot of the plot logic fails on even cursory inspection and Maria isn't given nearly enough to do or a reason to remain in the story. The implied promise of a big brawl between monsters is largely unfulfilled by the dam being blown before they could do more than a few throws around the lab. I just didn't really get into this story because it seemed so awkwardly put together with major characters disappearing for large portions of the story just to suddenly appear again when needed and an altogether unsatisfying merging of two distinct storylines. It's an average time waster elevated a bit by some good acting; 3.0 out of 5.

Tags: review frankenstein meets the wolf man

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