Though this time of year, people are often concerned about finding the perfect Fraiser fir- tonight on MeTV we fulfill ( not fill full the stockings) the requests of many viewers who have asked that we give an encore to the origin story of a monster with a different sort of fur- whose repeated appearances in various movies during the Universal classic monsters cycle were always played by the same actor- Lon Chaney Jr. We see where the story of the tortured Larry Talbot begins-and learn how he became cursed to transform, during every full moon, into- the “ Wolf Man”!
Things start out in a sort of melancholy, sweet way- young Lawrence is returning to the ancestral Talbot home in England, to mourn the passing of his brother and reconcile with his father. He joins his dad, an amateur astronomer, in working on a new telescope he has ordered. In what seems pretty creepy, even for back in those days, Larry plays peeping tom when he spots an attractive young woman in an apartment window in town- and is smitten enough to try and find her. He succeeds, and encounters the lovely Gwen working in her father’s shop below the apartment where he had glimpsed her. The smart shop girl seems to be unimpressed by this stranger- especially after learning that he was spying on her! Not one to give up easily, Larry persists and makes a purchase- a walking stick with a heavy silver handle- shaped like a savage wolf. Spotting a caravan of gypsies, he does his best to persuade Gwen to go out with him that evening to enjoy the visitors’ entertainment- but the clever young woman invites her girlfriend Jenny along, much to Larry’s surprise and disappointment!
They visit the camp where the travelling group of gypsies has set up shop to entertain the townsfolk. Things change from the carefree happy mood when the friends decide to partake in the gypsy custom of having their fortunes told. While Larry and Gwen wander off , young Jenny goes first- only to have the fortune teller, Bela (played by a real-life Bela- Bela Lugosi!), see the sign of the fateful pentagram on her hand. He abruptly ends the session, shouting at her to leave at once- and the frightened Jenny flees, running blindly out onto the moors. Shortly after, Larry and Gwen hear her shocking shrieks! Larry runs towards the cries, only to see a huge wolf attacking the helpless girl! Using his silver-handled walking stick he beats the wolf to death, while getting bitten during his failed attempt to save Jenny’s life. The local authorities come to investigate – and, upon finding the body of the attacker- they discover it is no beast at all, but-a man! Though Larry insists that he knows what he killed was a wolf- not a man- no one is convinced he is telling the truth.
Larry returns to the gypsy camp- where he meets the wise old gypsy Maleva- who reveals the shocking truth to him- that the "wolf" he killed was her son Bela- who had transformed into a werewolf! When she hears that Larry was bitten by Bela, she warns him that now he too will become a wolf when the full moon rises! She instructs him on the werewolf lore- delivering the oft-quoted rhyme that forebodes Larry’s fate- and cautions him that he will see the sign of the pentagram in the hand of his victims- and that, even with the tokens of protection she can provide to him, he will be unable to escape this awful supernatural curse. Larry sadly discovers that she speaks the truth. As the story spreads, the townspeople all think he has killed a man- and treat him like a pariah. His father begins to worry that he’s having psychological problems, and tries his best to get him help and protect the son with whom he has only recently made peace.
The locals set traps for a wolf- but with the full moon coming again, Larry Talbot must convince his father of the horrible truth- and get his help in keeping the Wolf Man from going on the prowl and killing again!
The Larry Talbot character went on to appear in four additional Universal films after his 1941 debut and, in later films, seemed at times to over-do his whining about wanting to die- but always stayed true to the character. We’ll talk about the cast members like Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, the afore-mentioned Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskya, and Ralph Bellamy, among others. We'll deliver a musical number, as usual- and we have a couple special segments with parts of the live on stage “40 Years as Svengoolie” interview we did at this year’s Flashback Weekend horror convention with our friend Nick Digilio of WGN radio!
"Wolf Man" is on tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, or, check for channel and time in your local listings or at www.metv.com - please remember for those of you setting a dvr for recording- once again, check what your provider is listing our program as- either the movie name or “Svengoolie”. MeTV invites you, as always, to live-Tweet during the show on Twitter- and use the hashtag #svengoolie. Once again last week, we were among the top subjects trending nationally! Our Chicago area viewers can get a second look at Hammer’s “Two Faces of Doctor Jekyll" at 11 am on the U.
Tonight- once again- even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night- can enjoy the original classic that gave Lon Chaney Jr. some “bite”! And- we wish all of our viewers happy holidays!