October 19, 2016

The Wolfman (1941)

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(ANOTHER NOTE FROM DEREK: Okay...I need to apologize to Jake for doubting him. Turns out that, despite the common knowledge that the Dr. Frankenstein in the Mary Shelley book--which is supposed to be the material source for this movie--is called Victor, and that is how IMDb has the character named for that movie, a quick re-watch of the opening credits show that, for some reason, Victor Frankenstein was, in fact, called Henry in the movie. So, with that in mind, I wanted to apologize to Jake for saying he was wrong. But I still say he can suck it, and so can IMDb. Thank you.)

This week, the guys sat down to watch the 1941 Universal classic, The Wolfman, starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Warren William, Fay Helms, J. M. Kerrigan, Maria Ouspenkaya, and Forrest Harvey as "Twiddle". Yes, you read that right; there is a guy named Twiddle.

Larry Talbot (Chaney) is returning home to England, despite clearly not being English in any way whatsoever, for the funeral of his brother, who was killed in a hunting accident. His father, Sir John (Rains), who is English, is happy to see him, and so any chance for a conflict over why Larry has abandoned his Englishness is completely lost, largely because this is a short movie, so there's no time for silly emotions. Besides, as noted, their family (aside from Larry, is British. They don't do that.
Emotions are for ethnic people, son. Now sit. Stay.
Instead, Larry starts using a telescope to stalk Gwen (Ankers), who lives across the street above a shop her father (Kerrigan) runs. And, not one to let a creepy opportunity pass, he immediately rushes across the street to pretend to purchase some jewelry and then a cane from her, giving away his plan, as well as probably sizing her up so he can decide what sort of garment he can make for himself from her skin. Gwen seems delighted by this, but not so much that she'll go alone with him to a second location. Instead, she recruits her friend Jenny (Helm) as a barrier, and they make their way to a gypsy festival sort of thing, where they can get their fortunes told by an excessively mustachioed gypsy named Bela (Lugosi).
Drink it in, ladies.
Bela reads Jenny's palm and freaks out when he sees a pentagram in her palm. Sje also freaks out and runs off into the night, where she is almost immediately attacked by a wolf and killed. Larry, who went searching for her, finds the wolf attacking her and beats it with his cane, which has a silver wolf head on top of it. The wolf also attacks him and scratches his chest. When several other villagers run to the sound of the scuffle, they find Larry, Jenny, and Bela, who is dead, next to Larry's cane. They drag Larry back home and the police come in, including Twiddle, to figure out what happened.

The next morning, people start showing up at both Larry's and Gwen's homes, wanting to know what happened. For his part, Larry has no idea. And, even more confusing, the scratches on his chest have disappeared. He goes to his father, who says that there's obviously nothing wrong with Larry except that he might have caught a little bit of crazy. Larry, unconvinced, heads over to see Gwen, where he explains what happened, and then decides he has to talk to the gypsy's mother (Ouspenkaya). She tells him that her son was, in fact, a werewolf, and that Larry might now be one himself. This is quickly determined to be true when he follows her to the cemetary where Bela is being buried, and he transforms into a wolf, spots a gravedigger, and kills him.
Bad boy! Baaaaad!
A group of hunters finds the body of the gravedigger, and they mount a search for the huge-footed wolf that killed him, and Gwen's fiancee, Frank (Knowles) follows the footprints right back to the Talbot family's castle, where Larry has just woke up to find wolf prints all over his floor and windowsill.

Again, Larry goes to his father, who again claims that Larry's not a werewolf; he's just a bit crazy! And Sir John figures the best way to cure Larry is to strap him into a chair and leave him alone. Brilliant!

So...You're single, are you?
While Sir John is speaking with the group of hunters, Larry escapes (who could have seen that coming?!) and goes prowling. He comes across Gwen, who was out searching for him, and he tries to strangle her to death, as wolves do. Sir John hears her screams and runs toward the sound, where he finds something attacking Gwen, so he beats it with Larry's cane, which he conveniently happened to have with him, and kills the werewolf.

Help us down! We're scared!
The creepy old gypsy woman shows up, mutters some incoherent stuff at the werewolf, and it turns back into Larry. The end. Really. That's it.

Derek likes the movie, overall, but he has issues with what an instant creeper Larry is when he sees Gwen. He also wants to know what the deal was with Bela's upsetting facial hair. You would think there would be issues with the Wolfman himself, but really, the Sam Elliot-ness of Bela's mustache is incredibly distracting.

Larry really likes the sets in this one. But he has problems with Bela becoming a straight-up wolf, but Larry only turns into a Wolfman. What's up with that? He, like the others, also has an issue with Larry's complete lack of an accent when everyone else int he movie has one. It's weird.

Jake liked it, but he has a problem with the woods, where most of the action happens. Why is everyone always going out there in the middle of the night? Why are they usually doing so alone? And what's with the group of hunters? Do they live there? And why is their "shelter" a clump of trees where they only stand about three feet off the ground?

So tuck in your flannel shirt, brush your fur, and listen to this week's episode!