The Wolfman (1941 Universal Film)
The Wolf Man is a 1941 American drama horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as a werewolf named “The Wolf Man” and features Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Béla Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya in supporting roles. The title character has had a great deal of influence on Hollywood’s depictions of the legend of the werewolf. The film is the second Universal Pictures werewolf film, preceded six years earlier by the less commercially successful Werewolf of London (1935).
The original Wolf Man film does not make use of the idea that a werewolf is transformed under a full moon. Gwen’s description and the poem imply that it happens when the wolfbane blooms in autumn. The first sequel, though, made explicit use of the full moon both visually and in the dialog, and also changed the poem to specify when the moon is full and bright. Presumably this is what popularized the full-moon connection in the 20th century. The sequel visually implies that the transformation occurs as a result of direct exposure to light from the full moon. Other fiction has assumed the transformation is an inescapable monthly occurrence and does not examine whether it is caused by light, tidal effects, or some cycle that happens to coincide with the moon’s phases.
The movie has one of the earliest transformations between man to animal. For it’s time it was innovative and surprisingly effective despite being archaic. Lon Chaney would go on to reprise his role of the Wolf Man many times, and is quite proud of the character and his portrayal of our furry protagonist.
So lock yourself in and enjoy arguably one of the world’s best horror movies!
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