This is such an odd, yet interesting movie. You know the story: boy meets girl, boy gets bitten, boy becomes werewolf and tries to kill girl. While this is a familiar formula, it’s the details that really make this film worth watching. The Wolf Man is about a guy named Larry Talbot, an American raised son if a Welsh aristocrat, is bitten while trying to save a woman from a werewolf attack. Lon Chaney, Jr. plays the part perfectly, carefully walking the line of a slick socialite and a man who is torn apart by what he might become.
Factoid: Jack Pierce, the iconic make up artist had already designed the look of the Wolf Man for a film called Werewolf of London, however, actor Henry Hull refused to “obscure his features” with yak hair. The concept was scrapped and reused for The Wolf Man. The process took two and a half hours to put on and forty-five minutes to take off. Lon Chaney, Jr. said:
What gets me is when it’s after work and I’m all hot and itchy and tired, and I’ve got to sit in that chair for forty-five minutes more while Pierce just about kills me ripping off the stuff he put on in the morning! Sometimes we take an hour and leave some of the skin on my face!
I love this movie! In this film a crew of scientists travel down the Amazon to the mysterious Black Lagoon where an amphibious creature stalks them from the water. One of my favorite scenes is when Kay Lawrence (played by Julia Adams) goes for a swim with Gill-man swimming beneath her. It kind of reminds me of Jaws, but if Jaws was a creepy man who keeps trying to touch you. I don’t know why someone would even go for a casual swim in the Amazon, but it doesn’t seem to matter, because in this portion of the Amazon no one sweats and they are able to enjoy the luxuries of coffee, cigarettes and the slow destruction of an ecosystem.
Factoid: Over the years there has been a lot of speculation about the creation of the Gill-man suit. Chief make up artist Bud Westmore took sole credit for more than 50 years, though it was a group effort between him, director Jack Arnold and Disney animator Milicent Patrick. When Universal wanted to put Patrick on a promotional tour called “The Beauty Who Created the Beast”, Westmore shut it down and black balled her from the industry. Patrick went on to a career in modeling and acting, but her whereabouts have been unknown since the early 80′s.