His Howl (and Growl) was heard for the first time when "THE WOLF MAN" premiered in theaters 77 years ago on this day in HORROR Film HISTORY December 12th 1941!
Starring CLAUDE RAINS, WARREN WILLIAM, RALPH BELLAMY, PATRIC KNOWLES, BELA LUGOSI, MARIA OUSPENSKAYA, EVELYN ANKERS & LON CHANEY JR as "THE WOLF MAN"!
Directed by GEORGE WAGGNER.
Original Screenplay by CURT SIODMAK.
MakeUp by JACK PIERCE.
Some Terror'ific BTS shots including CHANEY getting his WOLF makeup by PIERCE (5th photo), relaxing on set with his dog "MOOSE" (7th photo), and in a Publicity Shot with EVELYN ANKERS without his WOLF FEET (last photo).
(Trivia by IMBd)
In CURT SIODMAK'S original script for the film, whether or not LAWRENCE TALBOT really underwent a physical transformation to a WEREWOLF or if the transformation simply occurred in his mind was left ambiguous. The 'WOLF MAN' was never to appear onscreen. Ultimately, the studio determined that TALBOT'S literal transformation into a WEREWOLF would be more appealing to the audience and thus more profitable. The script was revised accordingly.
LARRY TALBOT and his father SIR JOHN attend church on Sunday in the village, but the doorway and steps of the village church looks more like that of a cathedral. In fact, it was a cathedral - part of the original set built for the legendary silent version of "THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME" (1923), which had starred LON CHANEY JR.'S famous father, LON CHANEY and which stood on the Universal back lot for over 20 years.
A fun fact for you: The 'Wolf' that LARRY TALBOT fights with was LON CHANEY JR.'S own German Shepherd, 'Moose' (together in photo 7).
And finally let us never forget...
"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a Wolf when the Wolfbane Blooms and the Autumn Moon is bright."
“It is said there is no sin in killing a beast, only in killing a man. But where does one begin and the other end?" On this day in 1941, Siodmak and Waggner deliver one of the most potent Universal monster films via potent metaphor. Culled from his experiences as a German-born Jew fleeing the occupation, and rife with the classic Greek structure and Aristotelian arc, THE WOLF MAN stands as a darkly powerful, atmospheric fairy tale. Chaney's Larry Talbot is victim of fate, powerless to control the unleashed beast--not unlike Siodmak's own cursed existence under the encroaching Nazi regime. And that symbolic star marking the Wolf Man and his victim? It’s inherent duality and meaning is not lost upon the viewer with an eye for theory and critique. 💀 Complete with gypsy caravans, curses, misty moors, a love triangle, familial conflicts, and men that become monsters (not to mention individuals crushed by weights of expectation and identity: Larry's reluctant inheritance of his father's estate and titles; Gwen's engagement and nagging sense of duty versus love), THE WOLF MAN transports us to a land of fantasy so clearly anchored in our own reality...yet one that, despite temporal/spatial setting, curiously avoids any mention of WWII logically raging outside the Talbot doorstep. Psychologically speaking, this film has a grand many truths about the inherent duality of the human mind--an archetypal story of humanity's struggle as old as time itself. Rains and Chaney are in top form here, and despite their acrimonious relationship off-screen, Chaney and Ankers have palpable chemistry (it carries the realistic strains of the aforementioned triangle), and Maria Ouspenskaya is INCREDIBLE. Nothing tops the performance of those misty graveyards and bowers, except for maybe Pierce's iconic make-up and lapse-dissolve transformations (there’s something so bizarre, but commanding, about focusing on Larry's feet as a device). This helped pave the way for all werewolf films to come--Siodmak practically invented what we accept as the werewolf mythos--so bark at the moon, Fiends, and throw this on the projector tonight. But, maybe consider cancelling that palm-reading appointment.