The wolf man

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German title The wolf man
Original title The Wolf Man
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1941
length 70 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director George Waggner
script Curt Siodmak
production Universal film
music Charles Previn
camera Joseph Valentine
cut Ted J. Kent

The Wolf Man (original title: The Wolf Man ) is an American horror film by Universal Studios from 1941. Directed by George Waggner , the leading roles played Lon Chaney, Jr. and Claude Rains . The film was the breakthrough for Chaney.


After 18 years in the United States, Lawrence "Larry" Talbot returns to Wales in his ancestral castle. Sir John, his father now wants to prepare him for his duties as a landlord after his older brother's unexpected death in an accident.

Larry repairs his father's telescope in his father's private observatory and uses it to look into the nearby village, where he sees the attractive Gwen in an antique shop. He goes into the shop and speaks to her; she sells him a walking stick with a silver wolf's head and they arrange to go out for a walk that evening.

When Larry picks Gwen up, her friend Jenny is there too. In the forest they meet a gypsy who is camped there with his horse and cart. Jenny can be read from the hand while Larry and Gwen wait outside and talk to each other. When the gypsy sees a pentagram appear in Jenny's hand , he gets nervous and harshly sends her away. Jenny runs away and is attacked by a wolf shortly afterwards. Larry fights the animal, is bitten in the chest and can finally kill the wolf with a walking stick. For a moment, instead of the wolf, he sees the gypsy lying dead on the ground and then loses consciousness.

The incident calls the police on the scene. Since there is nowhere a wolf carcass, only a dead gypsy, and the bite wound has mysteriously disappeared, Larry's story is not believed and he is suspected of murdering the gypsy. Sir John tries to use his influence to protect his son. Larry, on the other hand, is persuaded that he is confused and does not remember exactly what really happened.

In the chapel of the cemetery, Larry observes an old woman (Maleva) discussing with a priest that a funeral with singing and dancing is customary for the dead. Then she goes to the gypsy's coffin and speaks a poem about suffering, innocence and tears. Larry later visits the old woman in her tent, who is the dead woman's mother. She reveals to him that her son was under the curse of the werewolf and that the bite has now passed on to Larry. She gives Larry an amulet that might break the curse if he wears it. The pentagram, she says, is the symbol of the werewolf. Every werewolf wears this mark and he sees the star in the palm of his next victim. A werewolf can only be killed with a weapon made of silver. Larry thinks it's all superstitious gossip and leaves.

In a conversation with his father, he reads the (now famous) poem about the wolf flower in the castle library. Sir John doesn't believe in werewolves. However, he believes it is possible that because of a mental illness someone could imagine they are turning into one.

The gypsies hold their opulent funeral ceremony, which is reminiscent of a fairground. Larry and Gwen visit the fair. Larry seems in a good mood for the first time and gives Gwen the gypsy amulet. At a shooting range, Larry hits with every shot, but when a wolf figure appears, he gets strange and sends Gwen home. He also goes home himself and notices that the hair on his legs is getting thicker and thicker. He sits down on a chair, his legs become werewolf legs.

Larry walks through the woods as a werewolf. In a cemetery he attacks the gravedigger.

Larry wakes up in his bed. There is now a pentagram on his chest where he was bitten. Animal tracks lead from the windowsill to his bed (which he covers in panic).

The police are groping in the dark, wolf tracks can be found in the earth of the gravedigger with a mangled throat. The population, however, suspects Larry and forms a lynch mob.

Larry is the werewolf again. He falls into a bear trap, from which he can no longer free himself. The old gypsy comes to him and recites the poem about tears again. Larry is turning back.

Larry no longer doubts the werewolf's curse and argues with his father, who doesn't want to know about it. Larry wants to leave the country. When he goes to Gwen to tell her, he sees a pentagram in the palm of her hand and flees. He hands the walking stick to his father. Sir John now wants to know too and ties Larry to a chair. Unfortunately, he leaves him alone afterwards.

The angry villagers organize a night hunt. Sir John goes to the old gypsy to confront her. In his view, Larry was driven crazy by the gypsies. Meanwhile, Gwen is looking for Larry. Larry, who apparently managed to get out of the chair (not shown), is walking through the woods again as a werewolf. He meets Gwen and attacks her, but before he can hurt her, Sir John - alarmed by Gwen's screams - comes over and kills the monster with the stick. The old gypsy follows Sir John and recites the tear poem again. Under Sir John's stunned gaze, the werewolf turns back into Larry.


  • Like ' Dracula (1931) ' and ' Frankenstein (1931) ', ' Der Wolfsmensch' is one of the great universal horror films. Lon Chaney Jr. (' Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein ', 'Tumak, the lord of the jungle') plays the role of the werewolf for the first time, which he played several times afterwards. The story is told with feeling and shows a man who doesn't believe in werewolves, but who becomes one himself and suffers. Other roles include Bela Lugosi ('Dracula') as a gypsy and Maria Ouspenskaya (' Frankenstein meets the Wolfman ', 'Tarzan and the Amazons') as a gypsy. The backdrops, an old cemetery , a small town and a large castle are very well chosen and add to the horror movie atmosphere. An orchestra contributes the ideal mood. The transition with the dissolve effect is ok for the film back then, but got better in later films. For genre lovers, the film is still recommended today. "


The success of The Wolf Man prompted Universal to resurrect the unfortunate Larry Talbot and reintroduce it in several sequels, including the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein , in which stars like Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange starred as Wolf Man , Parody Dracula and Frankenstein's monsters.


DVD release

  • The Wolf Man / October 24, 2002 / Universal Pictures
  • The Wolf Man / May 6, 2004 / Universal Pictures
  • The Monster Legacy DVD Collection / October 14, 2004 / Universal Pictures


  • In one scene, Larry Talbot and his father Sir John attend Sunday mass. The entrance to the church, however, looks more like the gate of a cathedral . One used for the backdrop of the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris , the 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) ( The Hunchback of Notre Dame was built) and in which Chaney's father Lon Chaney had played the leading role.
  • The werewolf make-up, created by Universal's head make-up artist Jack Pierce , took six hours to apply and another three hours to remove.
  • The silver pommel in the shape of a wolf's head was actually made of vulcanized rubber . This ensured that none of the actors or stunt doubles were accidentally injured during filming. The last known specimen of the silver wolf head-shaped walking stick knob is now in the private collection of the genre film archivist Bob Burns. He got the knob as a teenager from Ellis Burman , who had made the prop for the film at the time.
  • Originally, the actor Dick Foran was slated for the role of Wolf Man. It was only exchanged for Chaney junior a week before shooting began.
  • The shooting turned out to be particularly tough for Evelyn Ankers . Lon Chaney junior often made fun of sneaking up on her in full mask and frightening her. In one of the scenes that were not used in the final version, the werewolf was supposed to be wrestling with a bear. However, the bear broke loose and chased Ankers across the film set into the sound engineer’s cabin.
  • The Wolf Man is the only werewolf film from Universal in which the full moon is not seen once. In the film he is not the trigger for the transformation either; it is the blooming of the wolfflower.
  • The film laid the foundation for many popular werewolf myths, such as: B.
  • that the werewolf's bite can infect the victim
  • that the pentagram is the sign of the werewolf or that the werewolf sees it in the palm of his next victim (an allusion to the Nazis by the Jewish screenwriter Siodmak, who fled from Germany: the star is the sign of imminent death)
  • that (only) silver can kill a werewolf.
  • In a scene from the Universal film "A Dog Named Beethoven", a short excerpt from "Der Wolfsmensch" can be seen when Beethoven accidentally turns on the television on the couch at night.

Individual evidence

  1. Review at (archived version)

Web links