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The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man (1941)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 2

A handsomely told tale with an affecting performance from Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man remains one of the classics of the Universal horror stable.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1

A handsomely told tale with an affecting performance from Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man remains one of the classics of the Universal horror stable.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 9,868

My Rating

Movie Info

"Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And the moon is full and bright." Upon first hearing these words, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) dismisses them as childish folderol. After all, this is the 20th Century; how can a human being turn into a werewolf? Talbot soon learns how when he attempts to rescue Jenny Williams (Fay Helm) from a nocturnal attack by a wolf. Collapsing, Talbot discovers upon reviving that Jenny is dead-and, lying


Horror, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Curt Siodmak

Aug 28, 2001

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (32) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (2) | DVD (15)

The Wolf Man is a compactly-knit tale of its kind, with good direction and performances by an above par assemblage of players, but dubious entertainment.

October 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (2)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A stodgy Universal thriller from 1941, redeemed by a name-heavy cast and by Lon Chaney Jr.'s lumbering, affable performance in the title role.

October 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Without any build-up either by the scriptwriter or director, he is sent onstage, where he, looks a lot less terrifying and not nearly as funny as Mr. Disney's big, bad wolf.

August 8, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (2)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's undeniable magic within the staid format.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even with a canon that includes the definitive versions of (among others) Frankenstein, Dracula and The Phantom of the Opera, this 1941 classic has always remained my favorite of the studio's prolific output.

February 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Most horrifying is the potential inability to sway our own innately darker tendencies.

February 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

Chaney may appear to have had a bad run-in with a hair dryer, but he's still the definitive villain as tragic hero.

February 10, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

A film of sometimes uncertain greatness that is nonetheless the most entertaining and effective Universal monster movie since Bride of Frankenstein.

October 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The Wolf Man's tantamount pleasures are its economy and speed, its silvery manipulations of light and shadow, and the panache with which the lighting, the story, and the rich cast navigate [its] tone.

March 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

A feast of horror, for animals of all kinds.

October 8, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A classic despite its flaws.

September 16, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter

In spite of its age, the emotional impact, and sheer terror hasn't lost its punch with great performances, and a tragic ending.

July 16, 2007
Film Threat

It's a good, solid film, held together by Chaney's appealing performance and great supporting players like Lugosi as Bela the gypsy who turns into a wolf.

August 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Charming & fun 40's monster schlock.

September 21, 2005

It's not as boring as Dracula, but not nearly as inventive as, say, Bride of Frankenstein.

April 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

The key to getting some good, fun chills out of a silly old movie like The Wolf Man is atmosphere: Watch after midnight. Turn off the lights. Light a few candles. Don't let your feet dangle off the edge of the couch or bed.

January 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

A wonderfully campy horror film that made a star of Lon Chaney Jr. Despite its hokiness, it stills holds up.

January 7, 2004
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Apesar de ter se transformado em um personagem trágico e fascinante nos filmes posteriores da série (com seu constante desejo de morrer), Larry Talbot é apenas um monstro convencional e nada interessante neste primeiro capítulo.

July 24, 2003 | Comments (2)
Cinema em Cena

A classic creature feature.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Bad moon rising.

April 6, 2003

Audience Reviews for The Wolf Man

By the early 1940's, Universal Studios has released many memorable monster films. One of its most memorable is The Wolf Man, a standout classic monster horror film with a great story and terrific cast. Lon Chaney is one of the most memorable actors in a monster film, and he is a defining actor in the genre, along such greats as Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The film is simple in its story, but the impact of the picture still resonates till this day. If you love the classic Universal monsters, The Wolf Man is yet another fine film that has shaped the face of modern horror. Simple, yet effective, the film is very well directed and has some impressive special effects. In terms of filmmaking, The Wolf Man is an accomplishment in the cinematic medium, and features some of the riveting use of effects since the Invisible Man. Although this is not among my favorites of the Universal monsters, the Wolf man definitely has its place in the famous of cinema's monsters. Chaney is unforgettable in his performance and this is a movie that you shouldn't pass up. The film has a brooding, melancholic atmosphere and it adds to the enjoyment of the film to make it a bit unsettling for the viewer. The film isn't scary, but it keeps you entertained due to its story, and Chaney's performance. The film is quite short, but it is never dull or boring and it moves at a quick pace. If classic films are your cup of tea, and you enjoy horror, then give this genre classic a shot. Although not as great as others in the Universal Monsters, The Wolf man has a secured place nonetheless.
September 22, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Here we have another introduction to a universal movie monster. The Wolf Man was made in 1941, ten years after the success of Frankenstein and Dracula and it stars Lon Chaney Jr as Larry Talbot/ The wolf man. Larry Talbot is just an ordinary guy who is bitten by a wolf while trying to save a helpless girl and he becomes the legendary wolf man. Lon Chaney Jr does such a great job in his role. AS Larry Talbot, he brings out the side of him who's haunted by what he's become and as a werewolf, all he has to do is just run around and growl and stuff, but he's still convincing. For the transformation scene, Chaney was required to stand still for countless hours while makeup was applied to him while the camera was still filming at times. It was all stop-motion and it still looks great to this day. What makes the werewolf scenes so great is the suspense and tension that's involved in them. The wolf man, like Dracula, has really big screen presence and you really do get a feel for the people who he stalks and attacks. The soundtrack for the movie is excellent; it does a really good job of providing suspense and there are even parts of it that sound like the score from 1989's Batman which is ironic because Danny Elman, the composer for Batman, did music for the 2010 remake of The Wolf Man. The thing that makes this movie stand out from the other monster movies is how much sympathy you have for Talbot. He has no control over becoming a werewolf and he wants to be normal, but he's cursed because he was dumb enough to try and save some dumb damsell in distress from a wolf. The climax for the film is also pretty emotional, but I won't spoil it. I also feel the need to mention that Bela Lugosi has a role in the movie. He's notablr for playing Dracula, but in this he plays a gypsy who's also a werewolf. It's always good to see Lugosi acting. I firmly believe that The Wolf Man has still stood the test of time and it's a must see for anyone who loves horror films. This movie, along with Frankenstein and Dracula are classic horror flicks that I have respect for since they have had a heavy influence on anything having to do with monsters and Halloween. Those three movies are all great and they deserve to be viewed more during October.
October 3, 2012
Tyler Robertson

Super Reviewer

Maleva: Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself. 

"His hideous howl a dirge for death!"

The Wolf Man is one of those must see horror classics for horror buffs. It'd early horror at its best. This may not have the same status as Frankenstein, but it is still an excellent classic in its own right. It's a lot of fun and has some really interesting performances, even though it times  in at a small hour and nine minutes. This isn't my favorite werewolf related movie, but it does deserve the most respect. It's the film we all look to when describing the werewolf movie, and everything after it, owes a lot to it. Movies like The Howling and An American Werewolf in Paris wouldn't exist without having The Wolf Man as a template. 

Some things to take away from The Wolf Man is Lon Chaney Jr's performance outside of the Wolf Man, and also the way they used common psychology to deflect that he was actually a werewolf. I loved the interplay of people who actually thought that a man could be a wolf and others who thought that a man could create a wolf persona through all the paranoia. There's obviously a lot of things you could make fun of the film for in today's world. Like a lot of movies back then, there are moments of drama that are ruined by overacting. The werewolf looks horrible by today's standards. But on a whole, for a movie that was made in 1941; The Wolf Man really has stood the test of time. This is an endless classic that will be enjoyed by many more generations.

This is a pretty important movie in my opinion. As a lover of the horror genre, I have a great deal of respect for the early classics, even if they can't possibly scare us 70 or 80 years later. It's just the fact that have inspired and thrilled audiences for that long. Plus, watching The Wolf Man was not a chore at all. I enjoyed every second of it, and when it was over, I couldn't help wishing it was longer. 
July 11, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Waggner's original Wolf Man is a tragic and emotional story enhanced with it's effective performances and it's wrenching suspense. The most original and most influential werewolf film of all time deservedly remains a remarkable spectacle of film making. This is the film that influenced the 2010 remake. Which I thought was equally amazing and stayed faithful to this; The first wolf man picture. A sophisticated horror classic with groundbreaking make up effects and an absolutely timeless story.
December 29, 2011
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Movies Like The Wolf Man

    1. Maleva: Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.
    – Submitted by 3guys 1 (2 years ago)
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March 20, 2008:
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Foreign Titles

  • Der WolfsMensch (DE)
  • Le Loup Garou (FR)
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