70 min., 1941
Directed by George Waggoner
Take a note, Twiddle. Age has not been kind.
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The movie begins with Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) heading to his old hometown to see his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), because his brother just died. After much grieving (as in none) they start to work on a new telescope, and as Larry is adjusting some stuff he notices a woman, Gwen (Evelyn Ankers) in a window. As he watches he gets the idea to go over and act like he is psychic and convince her to go out with him. She really doesn’t agree to go with him but she is still waiting at the time he said he would be there and with a friend, Jenny (Fay Helm). They head to a couple of gypsies, Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) and Bela (Bela Lugosi) that have recently come into town and they want their futures told. After a few minutes Bela warns Jenny to run and as she does she is attacked by a wolf. Larry comes running and kills the wolf with his new walking cane that has a silver handle (and a carving of a werewolf). The next morning it turns out that it was Bela that Larry killed and the bite that Larry said he received is now healed. He talks to Maleva and she informs him that Bela was a werewolf and now so is he. Is Larry going crazy or is he really a werewolf?
Overall the acting is pretty okay throughout the movie. The only real standouts are Lon Chaney, Jr. (big surprise there) and Claude Rains (again, big surprise). Both of them knew how to handle their roles and make the best of some really bad dialogue. Lon Chaney, Jr. almost got to the point of overacting but right when he was about to reach that point he pulled back and made the performance good again. The worst of the bunch had to be either Maria Ouspenskaya or Evelyn Ankers. Both of them took their parts and went way too far with them, especially Maria.
The effects are very primitive and by today’s standards they are really terrible, but at the time the transformation scene was really amazing. Taking that into account it’s still really hard to ignore the aging of this movie. The wolf man looks more like a hairy guy with a minor afro and the transformation is just, uh. Again, it was great years ago, but it doesn’t look all that great now.
It’s pretty hard to review a movie that is so well known and so loved. There are the people that will say that you have to forgive some problems because of the time or you should ignore the overacting because that’s how they used to act. Sorry but when I watch a movie, no matter the year, if there are things that are just sloppy or painful to watch I will call them on it and this movie doesn’t get a pass because it’s considered a classic or masterpiece. A few things that really threw me off with the movie were, for one was the little poem about the werewolf. It was said like five times throughout the movie and it felt like it took five minutes each time. The first two were great foreshadowing, but after that it was just painful to hear. Another thing that bothered me was when they were examining the body of Jenny and then they suddenly discovered the body of Bela on the opposite side of the tree where Jenny was. Really! Really!!!! There were six people at the body of Jenny and no one noticed the other side of the tree. Argh!!! The last thing I will bring up is more minor than the last two, but I loved when Larry changed into the werewolf he had the great idea of putting on a new shirt. You see when Larry was checking his body he took off his shirt and only had on an undershirt, he then transforms and walks off. Boom he has a new shirt on. That was just really odd to me.Have You Read...?