"Even a man who is pure in heart & says his prayers by night; May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms & the autumn moon is bright"-Maleva, the Gypsy In 1941, Universal studios were ready to add another addition to their already highly successful house of monsters. Enter, Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role that would make him a superstar! The son of "The Man of A Thousand Faces", Lon Chaney, Jr. had made a bit of a name for himself in some rather great films. Of Mice & Men was probably the defining role of his career to this point however, the role of Larry Talbot would be the one to catapult him to superstar status. Larry Talbot returns to his father's castle in Wales. Upon his arrival, his father (Claude Rains) prepares him for his role as the "father" of their community at large. Needless to say, The young Talbot has an eye for the ladies & sets his sights on none other than the lovely Gwen Conliff (Evelyn Ankers) After a night out, Larry & Gwen are startled by the screams of a young woman. In going to her aid Larry kills the wolf that has apparently killed the young woman, & in so doing Larry is bitten by the wolf. In that instant, the curse of the Werewolf is passed from the Gypsy Bela to the young Lord of the Manor, Larry Talbot!
As with all the films of this period, widescreen presentations did not exist. The picture however is beautiful in all of its black & white glory! 59 years is a long time for a film to lay dormant however, given the great interest in this movie in particular, it has been recorded & transferred more times than I can count. Given its popularity, the print for this film is in remarkable shape! There were the expected scratches & flecking but none to any degree that would affect the watchability of the film.
The audio is presented in a 2.0 Mono format that does everything this film has always done. It's appropriate for the age of the film & does a great job conveying the aural textures of this classic! It would have been nice to hear the sounds of the night all about me & to hear the Wolfman as he stalked front to back but, I'm more than happy with the audio as presented.
Universal has really gone above & beyond in it's treatment of these classic films! Each edition features a wonderful array of interviews, stills, documentaries & other goodies! The Wolfman in particular has: Monster by Moonlight: an incredible behind the scenes making of documentary on the Wolfman. It features a host of interviews most notably by my favorite, Rick Baker! Tom Weaver provides a feature commentary that echoes a lot of the same information as presented in the Documentary. The Wolfman Archives is a collection of stills & promotional materials that are displayed with the score for the film playing over the images. Cast & Filmmakers bios, production notes, a trailer for the Wolfman & Universal Web Links.
The Wolfman much like Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from The Black Lagoon & all the other monsters that reside in Universal's house of horror are my favorite monster movies to date! Sure, now we can manipulate images electronically & digitally create all kinds of things but, none of them can equal the sheer brilliance of the story telling that these films embody! Great fun all the way around!