Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

the wolf man

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” 

This is such an amazing film as the story is excellent, the acting superb (Lon Chaney Jr. + Claude Rains). It is also a member of Universal’s Classic Monster Movie Collection, its buddies being The Phantom of the OperaFrankenstein,  The Bride of FrankensteinThe MummyDracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. And this post means that I have finally, finally finished the list I set out to complete two years ago.

But what really makes this a spectacular film is that many of the modern myths of werewolves were originated in this film: such as a person becoming a werewolf through a bite; the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet; and changing into one during a full moon. These are all original concepts created by writer Curt Siodmak. Isn’t that amazing! Like The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon this film isn’t based on a book or any specific resource, which allowed the writers a lot of leeway in their work and creations.

So this isn’t the first werewolf film, as that was The Werewolf of London, which actually did rather poorly in theaters. This was the second werewolf horror film to be made and become the most famous. All the later depictions such as: The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Van Helsing, The Wolfman (2010), etc.looked to it in creating their stories.

So the film was originally written for Boris Karloff, but he turned it down. And although I love that man [read my The Mummy (1932), Frankensteinor The Bride of Frankenstein post] I can’t imagine this film being as amazing with him as the title role. Lon Chaney Jr. was just superb. Lon Chaney Jr, was the son of the famous Lon Chaney (who I talk about in my Phantom of the Opera post) and interestingly the set that was used to film this movie was the same used for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) which starred Lon Chaney Jr.’s  father, Lon Chaney.

Unlike other films, The Wolf Man is the only Universal monster to be played by the same actor in all his 1940s film appearances; Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Now I love this movie and story but it is soooo sad as well. Here is a wonderful man pure of heart, who has the unfortunate luck of being bitten by a werewolf and can’t do anything to stop it. Unlike modern movies where the person can control it, change at will, etc; in the original when the man transformed into a wolf he literally transformed into becoming a beast and losing all his humanistic thought, reasoning, etc.

wolfman

So the film starts out with Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot returning home.

Look at this sweetheart

Look at this sweetheart

His older brother has died, and as he is the second son he will now inherit everything–money, title, family home, etc. More importantly, after the realization that his brother is no longer, Lawrence AKA Larry, is eager to rebuild his relationship with his father. They had previously parted on not the best terms (he wanted to be an engineer his father wanted him to be something else. He decided to run away to California, against his father’s wishes).

Larry reacquaints himself with the village, taking a deep interest in a particular shopkeeper, Gwen Conliffe, who is unfortunately engaged. However, she is equally interested and as Larry buys a silver-wolf handled cane the two make a date to meet up later that night and visit the gypsies that are camping nearby.

Lon-Chaney-Jr-The-Wolf-Man-1941-acting-16369193-325-217

  That night Larry meets up with Gwen and her friend Jenny. The three make off to the gypsies passing some wolfsbane along the way. Both girls repeat the old gypsy folklore about wolfsbane:

Even a man who is pure in heart

and says his prayers by night

may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright

Now what is really interesting about this old piece of folklore is that it isn’t that old. This quote has been thought to be an Eastern European folk saying, but Siodmak admits that he was the one who made it up. Even though that might be true, it went  down in film history becoming a part of almost every future Werewolf film and recited in every future Universal film appearance of the Wolf Man. [It is quoted by Van Helsing, but one of the lines was changed to “The moon is shining bright” instead of “The autumn moon is bright“]

Meanwhile, in the gypsy camp one of them has a terrible secret. Bela, played by Bela Lugosi, is actually a werewolf and hiding it from everyone.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

When the group gets to the gypsy camp and have their fortunes read, Bela sees the pentagram on Jenny’s hand and knows that she’s next for death.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

 

Bela runs off and the trio start walking home. Soon Jenny is attacked by a wolf and Larry tries to save her. He wrestles with the wolf and kills it by braining it with his cane. (It being silver can kill it) Unfortunately, he couldn’t save Jenny and during the battle, he ended up getting bit…

dun-dun-duuuun

Making him the next werewolf.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next day the constable comes to visit, causing Larry to second guess himself as they found a dead Bela instead of a wolf!

Say What

They found Bela beat in the head, and Larry’s silver cane matches perfectly as the weapon.

Col. Paul Montford, chief constable: [showing Larry’s stick to him] Is this your walking stick?

Larry Talbot: Why, yes. That’s the stick I killed the wolf with.

[Sir John Talbot and Col. Montford look at Larry with great concern]

Sir John Talbot: Larry, Bela the gypsy was killed last night. Your walking stick was found next to the body.

Larry Talbot: You mean, Bela the fortune teller? But… I only saw a wolf.

Larry is completely confused as he knows that it was a wolf. And how does that explain the murder of Jenny? Which was done by a wolf? The constable tells him he is still investigating as he really doesn’t want to arrest the Lord’s son, especially since there are so many questions. He ultimately deems the incident an accident.

Larry on the other hand is extremely puzzled. Could he have killed Bela? But he saw a wolf he was bit by one. Except the mark can not be found!

confused

Larry needs answers and decides he will go see the Gypsy woman and not only apologize for her son’s death but ask her what is going on! Gwen and her fiancé Frank go with him.

Wolf Man 1941 5

The gypsy woman, Maleva reveals that he did kill a wolf–a werewolf. Her son Bela was a werewolf and the only thing that could kill him was silver, silver like the silver on his cane.

Maleva: You killed the wolf.

Larry Talbot: Well, there’s no crime in that is there?

Maleva: The wolf was Bela.

Larry Talbot: You think I don’t know the difference between a wolf and a man?

Maleva: Bela turned into a wolf and you killed him. A werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet, or a silver knife…[looks down at Larry’s walking stick]…or a stick with a silver handle.

Larry Talbot: You’re insane! I tell you, I killed a wolf! A PLAIN, ORDINARY WOLF!!!

Maleva: Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.

Larry Talbot: Ah, don’t hand me that. You’re just wasting your time.

Maleva: The wolf bit you, didn’t he?

Larry Talbot: Yeah. Yeah he did!

Maleva: [Larry shows Maleva his chest wound concealed under his shirt] Go now – and heaven help you!”

 

Larry of course doesn’t believe her and leaves. That night he transforms into the WEREWOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now the transformation was laborious. The makeup took six hours and was the design by  Jack Pierce  for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London Hull had rejected it as he didn’t like how long the process would be to apply it. Chaney Jr. claimed he had to sit motionless for hours as the scenes were shot frame by frame. Pierce used grease paint, a rubber snout, wigs, and glued layers of yak hair to Chaney Jr.’s face. Larry’s dissolve transformation on screen only took seconds, while in actuality it took almost ten hours as they had to keep reapplying layers for the changing fur.

wolfman

That night the Wolf Man attacks a grave-digger, Richardson.

wolfman-strangle

The constable and the Doctor finds his ravaged body and wolf tracks.

Meanwhile, Larry finds himself in bed with wolf tracks all around and has finally decided that the gypsy women must be telling him the truth. He talks to his father who just thinks that he is in shock and doesn’t take any of the “werewolf nonsense” seriously. He even calls the doctor who deems it just a mild form of hysteria.

The Constable and doctor prepare the woods to catch the wolf so that it doesn’t kill another person. The nigh as Larry as the Wolf Man  steps in one of the traps and gets caught. Luckily the Gypsy woman frees him, as she had  felt sorry for his predicament.

Larry transforms back into a human and asks the Gypsy woman and for help. She gives him a charm that will protect him from turning into a werewolf and warns him not to give the charm to ANYONE ELSE AS IT WON’T WORK FOR ANYONE ELSE!

the_wolf_man_1941_larry_is_talking_to_gwen

He then runs off to see Gwen to tell her that he is leaving. He knows he has killed the others and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.

“Larry Talbot: You wouldn’t wanna run away with a murderer wouldja?

Gwen Conliffe: Oh Larry, you’re not. You know you’re not.

Larry Talbot: I killed Bela. I killed Richardson. If I stay here any longer, you can’t tell who’ll be next.”

Gwen tries to get him to take her with him as she loves him, but Larry sees the mark of the pentagram on her hand and tells her he can’t. Instead he gives her the charm. YES THE CHARM  THAT IS ONLY SUPPOSED TO PROTECT HIM! Really Larry? REALLY??????!!!!!!

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

YOU ARE MAKING THE  SAME FREAKIN’ MISTAKE THAT EVERY OTHER MONSTER FILM HERO DOES!

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

DID YOU NOT HEAR THE WOMAN EARLIER? SHE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! ONLY FOR YOU!! ONLY YOU!!! YOU KEEP IT! What’s the point of going to a gypsy for help if you ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN????!!!!!!! I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In Dracula, he gives the girl the cross charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Mummy, he gives the girl the charm that is only supposed to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead Imohtep knocks him out and takes the girl anyway. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!! Alright! So if any of you are given a protective charm you freakin’ keep it!!! YOU HEAR ME????!!!!

And now that I got that little rant out of my system, let’s get back to the story.

So Larry goes to see his father and asks him to lock him up; tie him up in a chair, lock the door, etc and to go far, far, away as he doesn’t want him to be hurt. He also gives his father his silver cane as he knows that it will protect him.

Now this is why I hate modern interpretations of werewolves, except for The Wolfman (2010), as they never capture this aspect of the story. Here is a good man who has become evil, but he doesn’t want to be evil. It wasn’t like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which Dr. Jekyll made a choice, or even The Phantom of the Opera where he suffered such horrible things and had a complete snap and broke down. This was a good man who wanted to fix bad things in his life but the timing was off and he too is caught up in the evil. Modern interpretations also never cover the heartbreaking scene as this with his dad. He knows he can’t control the evil and the last thing he does is try to protect the ones he loves, first Gwen and then his father. The most emotional is the scene with his father, as here is a man he has been fighting with, had a horrible relationship, but you see in this moment how much love he has for his father. He gives him the cane as he wants his father to be safe, no matter what. And you see how much his father loves him by taking the cane, even though he thinks Larry is delusional.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying

Gwen is worried about Larry and goes looking for him, running into the woods even though the Gypsy warns her not to. I mean seriously, why don’t we listen to the Gypsies? They are gypsies, they know stuff.

should-have-listened-to-me

So Gwen runs out and into Larry, who has escaped from his room. But instead of the sweet, adorable, loving Larry we are confronted by the horrible beast.

the-wolf-man-lon-chaney-jr-evelyn-ankers-1941

But before the werewolf can do anything, Sir John comes and hits him with the cane, killing him.

John_Talbot_vs._the_Wolf_Man

The constable and doctor presume that Larry was killed trying to save Gwen, but Sir John knows the truth and now is left alone and has to bury his other son.

padme-youre-breaking-my-heart-gif-1

Maleva: The way you walked was thorny though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”

right in the feels broken heart

Yep. I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite horror films. Although it makes me want to cry every time. 

3_WolfMan

So that was our kick-off piece. Stay tuned for many more wonderful pieces to come!

halloween banner

For more on The Wolf Man (1941), go to Pink Elephants

For more on werewolves, go to A Halloween Hello from the Austen Men

For more monster movies, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara

For more on Claude Rains, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more on Bela Lugosi, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more films that spanned countless sequels and remakes, go to Everyones Entitled to One Good Scare

Advertisements

Friday Night Fun

disney_52_films_desktop_by_classicalguy-d6anuq4

Day 26) Your Favorite Disney Original Movie (DCOM)

Now when I was a kid we actually had great shows on TV; such as Boy Meets WorldEven Stevens, Sister Sister, Lizzie McGuire, etc. Not like today:

Disney

I mean Dog with a Blog? Really? Really Disney? JessieANT Farm, etc. all suck.

Best the best thing was the DCOMs. I loved the Friday nights when they would show these awesome films. So instead of picking just one film, as that is far too difficult, I’m going to list out my favs.

film-strip-banner

16) The Paper Brigade (1997)

Paper Brigade

Gunther is new in town and trying to fit in. He wants to go to a concert, with the school hottie, and tries to find a way to make the cash. He gets a paper brigade and is rolling in the dough, (I remember thinking, do paperboys really make that much money?). Some bullies try to take him down and in true Braveheart fashion, he defends his turf.

Paper brigade

film-strip-banner

15) Under Wraps (1997)

Under Wraps

This was a hilarious film about three kids discovering a mummy. I won’t say any more because I will be talking about this film more this October during Horrorfest III. Come back and check it out.

film-strip-banner

14) Johnny Tsunami (1999)

-JohnnytsunamifilmJohnny a surfing Hawaiian boy who is forced to move from his surf and sunny beaches for ice-cold Vermont. There he finds himself sticking out in a town full of snowboarders or skiers. He clashes with the others, but also befriends one snowboarder. He and a skier have a fight over the school hottie, and race against each other to win rights.

film-strip-banner

13) Brink (1998)

Disney_-_BrinkWhen I was growing up I had a huge crush on the movie surfer Erik von Detten, so I was totally into this film as it starred him. This film is about rollerblading, which every kid in the ’90s loved (whether or not they actually could roller blade). It actually is based on the book Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, one of my favs as a kid.

So Andy “Brink” Brink, is a great skater who does it for the love of the sport. When his family falls on hard financial times, he sells out and joins Team X-Bladz, changing as he gets money and fame. Eventually Brink realizes his mistakes and who his real friends are, leaving the X-Bladz.

brink Not youfilm-strip-banner

12) Susie Q (1996)

Susie_Q_poster

Story of a 1950s girl who is killed on her prom night in a car crash, only to have her spirit reawaken 40 years later to make sure that her parents don’t lose their house. Meanwhile, Zach is an everyday high school student who is dealing with the death of his dad and a move to a new town. His family moves into Susie’s house, where he finds her charm bracelet which enables him to see and communicate with her. The two team up with his little hacker sister and try to take on the evil guy who is trying to kick people out of their homes so he can set up a shopping mall. It is a hilarious film! I remember that I loved the story, and her dress, along with the fact that the pink ranger was in it.

pink ranger kimberly

film-strip-banner

11) The Thirteenth Year (1999)

Thethirteenthyear

I have to admit I went through a phase where I thought I too was going to turn into a mermaid, and what better to increase my interest/obsession than this film? So the story is about popular, top swimmer, Cody and how during his 13th birthday he starts turning into a mermaid or merman.

He was adopted as a baby and only now is transforming as 13 is when mermaids become adults (no wonder Ariel was like I’m an adult I’m in love). His friend Sean tries to hep him understand what’s going on, when they soon face the bigger threat of people discovering his abilities and trying to do experiments on him. Everything is eventually resolved with him deciding that he will take turns living with both parents (adopted and his mer-mother who finds him).

13th Yearfilm-strip-banner

10) Alley Cats Strike (2000)

Disney_-_Alley_Cats_Strike

This was a big fav as a kid. I absolutely loved this film and Kyle Schmid (I feel like I say that a looot). So Alex (Schmid), Elisa, Delia, and Ken are these kids who are into retro clothing and bowling, (not very in crowd). Everything changes for them when their school competes in a series of athletic events for the town trophy and finds themselves tied.  The tiebreaker is determined to be bowling. Todd, the most popular and athletic kid in school, joins the team to lead the group to victory. Only prob is, he sucks. The team struggles to fit him in, as they find him causing trouble within the group. 

Bowling Alley  Cats Strike

 

film-strip-banner

9) Mom’s Got a Data With a Vampire (2000)

-Mom's_Got_a_Date_with_a_Vampire

Love this film so much. Some kids accidentally set their mom up on a date with a Vampire and have to save her from being killed! It is an awesome film and I will talk about more during Horrorfest III. Check back this October.

film-strip-banner

8) Teen Beach Movie (2013)

Teen beach movie

Okay so this is a new DCOM, and I know it totally contradicts my earlier rant about Disney sucking today, but I just loved this film. When I was growing up, ’60s Beach movies were my absolute favorite. I loved Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. The songs, the campiness of it all. So when I saw Disney was going to do a parody film, I was super excited!

So this isn’t the first time this has been done. Sabrina the Teenage Witch did an episode where they go to Florida for Spring Break and have “Good, clean, fun.” In this film, Brady (Ross Lynch) and his girlfriend Mack are having loads of fun surfing, until Brady finds out that Mack is going away to finishing school. When the two ride a 40-foot wave, they find themselves in Brady’s favorite film, the 1960s Wet Side Story. Hilarity ensues as the two find themselves in the middle of a biker and surfer fight, singing, surfing, and having some “good, clean, fun.”

Cute guys, great music, and absolutely fabulous 1960s clothes.

film-strip-banner

7) Smart House (1999)

Smart House

I loved this movie so much as a kid! I totally wanted this house, I thought it would be so cool to live there (you know before it went crazy). But this film holds an even greater place in my heart as it truly captures my childhood/pre-teen time of my life. The music, clothes, food, etc.

So in this film this engineer/computer scientist creates a program that runs a house to fulfill your every command. She holds a contest to get the house, in which Ben Cooper and his family win. Even though Mrs. Cooper died a while ago, Ben becomes angry when his father begins dating the house designer, Sara Barnes. He tweaks with the program so it is more motherly, creating a dangerous machine that tries to imprison them. This film is also surprisingly based on a literary work, “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. I loved the idea of having a house like this, along with having a huge crush on Ryan Merriman. 

ryan

film-strip-banner

6) Luck of the Irish (2001)

The_Luck_of_the_Irish

Disney plays this film every March 17th, and I am so glad as it is hilarious. Kyle is the golden child; captain of the basketball team, straight-A student, and Lady Luck always seems to be smiling down at him. However that all changes when Kyle’s lucky coin is stolen from him. He then discovers that his mother’s family are leprechauns and that coin held their family luck, also allowing them to walk about the Earth looking like normal humans. With his mom shrinking, and him becoming shorter and more leperchauny ever minute, he sets out to track down the thief and restore his family luck.

So I love this film, and I actually have another post all detailed on it. I had a huge crush on Ryan Merriman, leprechaun or human
ryan6
For more on Luck of the Irish, go to Pot o’ Gold

film-strip-banner

5) Wish Upon a Star (1996)

Wish_Upon_a_Star

This story is about two sisters; the elder being pretty and popular, while the younger brainy, short, and insecure. The two wish to be the other as each thinks the other has an easy life.  But when their wish comes true and they switch bodies, they discover that there is more to each other than they originally thought. I just love the portrayal of their relationships and how they are able to work through their problems and bond in the end.

Wish Upon a Star

film-strip-banner

4) Stepsister from Planet Weird (2000)

Stepsister_from_Planet_Weird

So in this film two gas formed aliens flee their country for Earth. There the father, Earth name Cosmo Cola, meets Earth woman Kathy Larson and the two fall in love deciding to get married. Kathy’s daughter doesn’t want this to happen as she finds Cosmo and his daughter Ariel to be freaks. Ariel doesn’t want her father to fall in love and marry Kathy as she still hopes to return home, and to her boyfriend Fanul. It is a hilarious film as the aliens try to adapt to Earth and end up having to save the planet.

I just love how cool Ariel seems to everyone, when she isn’t even trying. but just being herself (thank you Disney). I also copied the layered look from her, which did become a major thing. But I have to say the biggest takeaway for me was her line “I fear the wind.” Since they are gas forms, they hate the wind as it kills them. My sis and I would go around saying that every time it was windy, especially when it messed with our hair.

film-strip-banner

3) Motorcrossed (2001)

Motocrosseed

This is a modern retelling of Twelfth Night and is one of my absolute favs. When Andrew is injured and can’t compete in the motorcross competition and the family is in trouble, Andrea cuts her hair and pretends to be  Andrew to save the day. Of course, problems arise as she can’t have anyone find out who she is, and starts to fall in love with her friend who thinks she’s a guy.

Andrea pre-haircut and post-haircut.

Andrea pre-haircut and post-haircut.

Plus I had a huge crush on Riley Smith. 🙂

Riley Smith

For more on Motocrossed, go to Disney Lesson

film-strip-banner

2) Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

Zenon Girl of the 21st C

I loved this movie so much as a kid. My love for it was so great that I sat through its excruciating painful sequels. So this film is about Zenon, girl of the 21st century who lives in a Space Station. She gets in trouble and is grounded (literally as she is sent to earth). While there she discovers an evil plot to destroy the space station, and has to do all she can to save her home. I loved the story, clothes, and expressions used in this film. It was an amazing piece. And after the film came out I used to say this all the time (and still do):

zenon

And who could forget this wonderful song?

film-strip-banner

1) Phantom of the Megaplex

Phantom of the Megaplex

This has to be my favorite DCOM of all! I loved this film so much as a kid! There are so many amazing things involved in it! It’s a very well done modern version of the Phantom of the Opera. It also references so many other movies, that it just makes a cinephile like me squeal in delight! I also had the hugest crush on the lead, Taylor Handley.  I was like 8 or 9 and in love with him. I actually reviewed this film during Horrorfest, so I will keep the synopsis short as you should really check it out.

So the film is about Taylor Handley’s character, Pete Riley, who is assistant manager at the megaplex and is getting ready for a huge film premiere, Midnight Mayhem, at the theater. However, chaos rains down throughout the night as a phantom lurks and tries to cause destruction.

phantom

For more on Phantom of the Megaplex, go to When Horror Doesn’t Stay on the Screen
film-strip-banner

For more on Disney, go to I Could Kiss You

For more of my favorite songs, go to The Boys Are Back in Town

For more on bowling, go to Heeeeee’s Back

For more on films in which car crashes play a significant role, go to He’s My Brother

For more on films in which someone disguises themself as a man, go to I’ll Make a Man Out of You

For more on Even Stevens, go to A Very Scary Story

For more films based on a book, go to Oh Oh De Lally

For more on Lizzie McGuirego to Night of the Day of the Dead

For more on mermaids, go to I’m Not Gonna Lose Her Again!

For more on mummies, go to Eternal Punishment for Whoever Opens this Casket

For more on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, go to A River of Candy Corn Runs Through It