The Wolf Man (1941)—Melodramatic

The Wolf Man (1941) movie poster
The Wolf Man (1941)

The Wolf Man is a horror film by Universal Studios. Larry Talbot returns home after his brother’s death and gets bitten by a werewolf, thus becoming a werewolf himself. Things go even more south when he sees the mark of the pentagram (really just a star) on his would-be girlfriend Gwen’s hand, a sign that she’s his next victim.

1—Larry Talbot is a Creep

Larry first sees Gwen through his father’s telescope, which ok, accidental spying for a moment, that happened. Where it crosses the line into creep territory is when he goes to her father’s antique shop and asks for a pair of earrings as a gift, then describes the earrings he saw her wearing through the telescope and of course she has earrings like that, they’re upstairs on her dressing table. Then when she asks how he knows that, Larry tells her he’s psychic about pretty girls. Later, when she’s said no to a date with him twice, and that she’s engaged to someone else, he still persists. That Gwen does seem to have a thing for Larry doesn’t make this any better, it just makes me think she’s an idiot.

2—Believe Someone When They Say They’ll Hurt You

When Larry figures out he’s a werewolf and goes to see Gwen, to tell her he’s leaving, she says she wants to go with him. Larry says no, he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. Gwen says he won’t because of a charm a Gypsy woman gave him that he then gave to her—which Larry rightly believes won’t help. He runs away and Gwen gets dressed then follows him into the woods. Even after the Gypsy woman tries to get her to leave the woods, Gwen says she has to find Larry, and promptly gets herself strangled. Frankly, I thought she was dead until the last scene of the movie, and good grief, at that point it would’ve served her right.

3—The Plot

The plot, like a lot of plots in the early days of Hollywood, is a little off from the streamlined three-act structure we’re used to with modern movies. Larry starts transforming about halfway through the movie (I think—I wasn’t counting the minutes) and then we get a lot of him going back and forth on whether or not he’s crazy, and going through the woods as a wolf man a few more times. Then things end a bit abruptly. Poor Sir John has now lost both his sons and actually killed one of them himself—which for some reason the police and townsfolk think a bludgeoning death was the work of a wolf now when they didn’t before—but instead of focusing on that horror, we see that the girl survived, so happy ending?

Conclusion

The Wolf Man is a classic horror movie and I can sort of see why. It does have several deaths, including that of the protagonist, and does creepy atmosphere well. But it also insists that the love interest survive when really she should be dead. Worth watching at least once, for the classic-ness if nothing else.

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