Sunday, October 9, 2022

31 Days of Scary Movies: “The Wolf Man” (1941)

 Last night it was time to return to the Universal Monsters again, with one of their more recent monsters: 1941’s “The Wolfman.”I’d initially scheduled this one for later in the month, but I want it fresh in my mind when I was Disney/Marvel’s new “Werewolf by Night,” this week. 

 I love this film. There are an embarrassment of riches with great actors in this film, and Universal monster royalty. Lon Chaney Jr., in the title role, and Dracula himself Bela Lugosi playing the Romani fortune teller. The performances are perfect, and Chaney especially gives something that should be been recognized by the Academy. The makeup is one marvel, but the character work he does, struggling between and good and evil and what that means, and wrestling with his curse.

 Like all the Universal films, the storytelling is an economical one hour and ten minutes, and it wastes no moment and hits every best perfectly. I am always struck by the opening of the film in which Chaney meets his love interest, by looking with his telescope into her apartment. Even in the 1940s world of the film, it is remarked as being untoward and creepy— and while it absolutely is, it does start the film off on an interesting note, that we know our hero is not exactly a good guy.

 The wolf man himself is only on screen for a few minutes, and like his fellow monsters, those moments catapult him to the status of an immoral icon. Unlike the rest of the Universal Monsters, we watch our hero go from a regular person to a cursed monster. The journey is emotional, fascinating and scary. This one will never leave my October schedule. 

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