The Wolf Man

Critics Consensus

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.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 40

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,407

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Movie Info

When his brother dies, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) returns to Wales and reconciles with his father (Claude Rains). While there, he visits an antique shop and, hoping to impress Gwen (Evelyn Ankers), the attractive shopkeeper, buys a silver walking cane. That same night he kills a wolf with it, only to later learn that he actually killed a man (Bela Lugosi). A gypsy (Maria Ouspenskaya) explains that it was her son, a werewolf, that he killed, and that Larry is now one himself.

Cast & Crew

Lon Chaney Jr.
Larry Talbot, Wolf Man
Claude Rains
Sir John Talbot
Ralph Bellamy
Col. Paul Montford
Evelyn Ankers
Gwen Conliffe
Patric Knowles
Frank Andrews
Fay Helm
Jenny Williams
Jack J. Gross
Executive Producer
Charles Previn
Original Music
Hans J. Salter
Original Music
Frank Skinner
Original Music
Joseph A. Valentine
Cinematographer
Ted J. Kent
Film Editor
Jack Otterson
Art Direction
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News & Interviews for The Wolf Man

Critic Reviews for The Wolf Man

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (4)

  • It finds modern sophistication and cultured intellects unprepared to deal with a threat that's already at hand, maybe even under our own skin.

    April 13, 2020 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Keith Phipps

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • The whole thing is nonsensical, but occasionally strangely compelling.

    April 13, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Lon Chaney, junior, has his first big role as The Wolf Man, but it would take a genius to "get away" with this role.

    April 13, 2020 | Full Review…
  • The Wolf Man serves its horror straight. A very substantial cast undertakes to sell believably a tale of superstitious folklore.

    April 7, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top 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…

Audience Reviews for The Wolf Man

  • Nov 02, 2014
    The Lon Chaney, Jr. classic Universal Monster Movie The Wolf Man is a provocative tale of a man's struggle against fate. While courting a young shopkeeper Larry Talbot is attacked by a werewolf, and is told by gypsies that he has taken on the werewolf curse and will become a killer. Co-starring Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi, the film has a strong cast. But the script is weak, and does a poor job of showing Talbot's struggle to come to terms with his affliction. And, Chaney too has difficulty bringing depth to the Talbot character. Still, the make-up effects are quite good, and the score is able to create an impressive atmosphere mood. While it has some flaws, at its core The Wolf Man is a compelling and frightful film.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2014
    An expertly told monster story, The Wolf Man might not boast the most complex manner of storytelling but it nonetheless claws itself to top of the Universal horror stable through pure entertainment value. With this, Universals werewolf do-over following in the claws of 1936's Werewolf of London, all of the components came together for one of its most atmospheric and iconic monster flicks to date. The story takes place in Wales (though the script never actually mentions this fact), but the whole package forever put audiences in that eerie shadow-laden stretch of woods so synonymous with 20th Century horror and pop culture. In fact, the journey was so fun and thrilling that they never left. In this unrated start to the Universal franchise, a practical man (Chaney) returns to his homeland, gets attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him cant possibly exist. So long associated with the many monstrous roles he continued playing (he later realized Dracula, Frankenstein, AND the Mummy on-screen as well), Lon Chaney, Jr. deserves great acclaim far outside of the shadow of his more-famous silent screen icon father (1923's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1925's The Phantom of the Opera). Afterall, he rightly garnered great critical acclaim for playing Lenny in 1939's Of Mice and Men two full years before donning Jack Pierce's legendary hirsute yak hair make-up. Under the handsome direction of George Waggner, you truly feel sorry for his tragic once-bitten full moon conundrum. Much credit belongs to screenwriter Kurt Siodmak, however, who single-handedly invented most of the werewolf lycanthropy himself, coloring outside the lines of the legend. Twilight and so many other wolf tales owe his legacy a fat royalty check. Bottom line: King of the Beasts
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2013
    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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2013
    Great classic horror creation from the universal icon. They really created something special with this grand film. A horror icon was born here and its the strength of the story as well as the people behind the scenes. I often get confused how they failed to create a reliable remake to this film. The film is nothing special in terms of story telling. It just has everything covered including a great transformation that leaves some modern films for dead. Great acting and direction create a film that has lived on from the day of its creation. Many films have failed to recapture some of the magic created here. The transformation has only really been beaten by an American werewolf in London
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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