Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Wolf Man

Lawrence Talbot returns home following the death of his brother to reunite with his father and oversea the family manor. In town, he meets a local shopgirl who tells him the legend of werewolf when he expresses interest in a walking cane adorned with a wolf's image. Dismissing the notions of lycanthropy as childish inanity when he comes across a mysterious band of gypsies and saves the local girl's friend from a wolf attack and is then bitten himself. "The Wolf Man" has a reputation as being one of the best early monster movies, by I found it awfully plodding, especially for a short film. Lon Chaney, Jr.'s performance is too mannered, and doesn't capture the qualities of an everyman which he is supposed to embody. Still, there is much to enjoy here including the great makeup, and the sense of unease cast over the entire film. Claude Rains is excellent also as the disbelieving father and Bela Legosi has a great cameo as the strange and infected gypsy who bites Chaney. "The Wolf Man" does earn its place as a monster movie classic. I'm just not sure I would place it above "Dracula", "Frankenstein", or its sequel.