Wolf Man, The (1941)

The Wolf Man (1941), produced and directed by George Waggner.

I know it has a big fan base, but this entry in the Universal monster series has never grabbed me. It's like we have a prelude to or sketch of a new mythology, but don't actually develop it.

Why does werewolf Bela look like an actual dog, but werewolf Larry a wolf-man? If the Gypsy woman has a silver charm that works, why didn't she give it to Bela?

Mixed Anglo/American casts were common in the 1940s, but this assembly is hard to take. Who believes that Claude Rains is Lon Chaney Jr's father? What is Ralph Bellamy even doing there?

On the good side: the idea of a man hiding the beast within is getting at something important. Larry knows the truth even as he tries to prove he is not a monster, searching his skin for signs. In a gripping moment of tragedy, Sir John beats his son to death with a silver-headed cane, and at some level he knows, even before the truth is revealed.

And say this for Lon: when he's made up he really lets go.

Available on Blu-ray with a witty, rapid-fire commentary track by Tom Weaver.