Larry Talbot was a Welsh aristocrat who was born at Talbot Castle in the village of Llanwelly. Played by American actor, Lon Chaney, Jr., the character is known for being the most famous werewolf in horror film history. Although Chaney immortalized the role of The Wolf Man, he is not the first werewolf under Universal's aegis. In 1935, Universal Pictures produced Werewolf of London starring Henry Hull as the lead character. However, Hull's werewolf was not as sympathetic a character as the tormented Larry Talbot and did not amass the infamy that Talbot's Wolf Man had acquired. The Wolf Man proved to be one of the most popular of the Universal Monsters and was featured in four more films. The Wolf Man's final classic appearance was in the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. In 2010, Universal produced a remake of the original 1941 film featuring Benicio del Toro in the role of Larry Talbot.
Biography[edit | edit source]
The Wolf Man[edit | edit source]
Larry Talbot was born in 1910 to Sir John Talbot and his wife in Llanwelly Village in Wales. The second of two children, Larry was always overlooked in favor of his older brother who, like traditional families, was considered in almost everything, while the younger son was often ignored. In 1923, at the age of eighteen, a bitter Larry Talbot left his family's ancestral home to travel abroad, eventually finding work in the United States. As an adult, he did some work at an optical company in Los Angeles.
In 1941, Larry received news that his brother had died in a tragic hunting accident. Having been away for more than eighteen years, Larry finally returned to Llanwelly where he reconciled with his father, Sir John Talbot. The two promised each other that they would no longer allow old grudges to impede their relationship and Sir John reminded Larry that he now stood to inherit the family estate. He encouraged him to explore the village and meet the townsfolk.
While examining one of his father's telescopes, Larry learned about a young woman named Gwen Conliffe. Gwen and her father lived above their shop, Charles Conliffe Antiques, in the village. Larry watched Gwen in her room through the telescope and became instantly smitten with her.
He went to the antique shop and introduced himself. Working under the pretense of shopping for a walking stick, he began hitting on Gwen who showed no interest in Larry's advances. Larry persisted however, but Gwen dodged his aggressive flirtations by convincing him to purchase a silver-tipped wolf's head cane. Through the course of conversation, Gwen pointed out a pentagram etched on the side of the head – the mark of the werewolf. She recited an old poem concerning werewolves, "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright". Larry asked Gwen to accompany him that evening to have their fortunes read, but Gwen denied him. As it was, however, Larry refused to take "no" for an answer, and he returned to the shop promptly at 8:00 pm, just as Gwen was leaving.
Gwen finally relented and agreed to go out with Larry, but insisted that her friend, Jenny Williams, should come along with them. Larry was put out, but politely agreed. They visited a nearby gypsy festival and they met a fortune teller named Bela. Jenny asked to have her fortune read, allowing Larry the chance to put the moves on Gwen. At this time, Gwen warned him that she was engaged to be married to a man named Frank Andrews.
As the evening grew darker, Larry and Gwen heard a scream, and he rushed to see what was happening. When he saw that a giant wolf was attacking Jenny Williams, Larry raced into the moors and beat the wolf down with his cane, but suffered a severe bite to his chest as a result. Gwen and an elderly gypsy woman named Maleva brought Larry home.
The following morning, Larry awoke only to discover that the wound he suffered had nearly healed. While convalescing, he was visited by his father as well as Chief Constable Paul Montford. They explained to him that Jenny was killed along with a fortune teller, Bela – the same man who had read Jenny's fortune. Larry's silver-tipped cane was found next to Bela's body. They insinuated that in the confusion, Larry had accidentally killed Bela, but Talbot insisted that it was a wolf that he had killed not a man. This matter caused Montford and Sir John great concern and Larry grew extremely uncomfortable.
He later attended Bela's funeral where he overheard Maleva muttering a prayer over Bela's casket. Larry then went to the Conliffe’s place to console Gwen. He expressed his condolences over Jenny's death and explained what had happened that evening. At this time, Larry met Gwen's fiancé, Frank Andrews. Andrews was suitably unimpressed with Talbot and suspected that he had held an interest in Gwen. He was also disturbed by Larry's wolf's-head cane.
After visiting a local fair, Larry encountered Maleva the Gypsy. He remembered that she had helped him home on the night of the attack. Maleva informed Larry that Bela was her son and that he was a werewolf. Larry didn’t believe her, but Maleva ignored his outbursts and offered him a charm. Etched with the sign of the pentagram, the charm was believed to be a symbol of protection. Maleva coldly told him, "Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives... becomes a werewolf himself". Frantically, Larry accepted the charm and left the camp. Larry then ran into Gwen Conliffe. He didn't fully believe Maleva's warning, but it made him nervous enough to give Gwen the pentagram charm. He indicated that it would protect her from him.
That evening, Larry returned home and transformed into a werewolf for the very first time. He stalked off into the night and went to the churchyard where he murdered a gravedigger named Richardson when he has been preparing a grave for the late Jenny Williams. The Wolf Man howled into the night, awakening the villagers.
The following morning, Larry awakened in his bedroom. He saw muddy animal tracks across the floor leading to the open window. Without revealing his true fears, he consulted with his father who explained to him the psychological elements of Lycanthropy – a man who believes himself to be a wolf.
That evening, Talbot turned into The Wolf Man for the second time. While lurking through the marshes, he learned to his own discontent that several townspeople, now wary of a possible werewolf sighting following the Richardson murder, had planted bear traps all throughout the area. The Wolf Man caught his right foot in a trap and the pain was enough to render him unconscious. Maleva the Gypsy appeared and muttered the same prayer that she said over the body of her son, Bela. The Wolf Man turned back into Larry Talbot and Maleva helped him to escape before the hunters could track him down.
There was no doubt in Larry's mind any longer that he was a werewolf and he ran to the antique shop to warn Gwen. He confessed to murdering Bela and Richardson and told her that he had to leave town. Gwen tried to convince him that he was not a murderer when Larry suddenly saw the sign of the pentagram in her palm. He then ran back to the family estate and confessed everything he knew to Sir John. His father didn't fully believe him, but he knew that Larry intended on turning himself in to the police. To humor Larry's fears, Sir John took him to an upstairs bedroom and tied him to a chair with the promise of locking him inside the room. Larry made his father take his silver-tipped cane with him for protection.
That evening, Larry transformed into The Wolf Man and escaped from his room. He stalked through the forests once again and came upon Gwen Conliffe. He leaped upon Gwen and began to throttle her when Sir John appeared from behind. The Wolf Man dropped Gwen and attacked John Talbot, not realizing that he was now fighting his own father. The two wrestled with each other on the ground, but ultimately Sir John used the deadly silver cane to bludgeon The Wolf Man to death. Afterward, the werewolf turned back into the form of Larry Talbot. Maleva appeared and spoke a prayer over his body, "The way you walked was thorny; through no fault of your own. But as the rain enters the soil; the river enters the sea; so tears run to a predestined end. Your suffering is over, and now you will find peace for eternity".
Larry Talbot was entombed at the Talbot family crypt; his coffin is filled with wolfbane flowers.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man[edit | edit source]
Four years after his death, Larry Talbot made a miraculous recovery. Two grave robbers broke into the Talbot family crypt believing that Larry had been buried with large sums of money. As they removed the lid to his coffin, they discovered it filled with wolfbane covering Larry's prone body. The light of the full moon shown into the crypt and resurrected Talbot as The Wolf Man. He killed one of the grave robbers, Freddy Jolly, but the other managed to escape. The Wolf Man broke out of the crypt and stalked off into the night.
He wandered as far as the capital city of Cardiff . The following morning, a constable found Larry Talbot unconscious in an alley with a severe laceration across his brow (the result of being beaten to death by his father). He was taken to Queen's Hospital, where he met a surgeon, Dr. Frank Mannering. Talbot had yet to realize how much time had passed and was not even aware that he had been dead. Later that night, the full moon rose and shined through Talbot's window and Lawrence transformed into the Wolfman for the fourth time and ran of into the night, where he killed a constable.
The next morning, Talbot woke up in bed where Dr. Mannering was trying to calm him down. A police man named Inspector Owen informed Mannering's patient that Larry Talbot died in Llanwelly four years ago. It was at this moment that Larry Talbot realized that he was immortal. He tried to explain to Owen and to Mannering that he was a killer, but they refused to believe him. Mannering felt that Talbot suffered from the mental side-effects of Lycanthropy and had him restrained in his room.
That night however, Larry Talbot turned into The Wolf Man and escaped from Queen's Hospital. He journeyed back to Llanwelly, where he found the aging Maleva at the old gypsy camp. He explained his situation to her and exclaimed that he would rather be dead then live on with this curse. Maleva told him about a scientist who might be able to help him – Doctor Frankenstein.
Larry and Maleva traveled to the village of Vasaria in the hopes of locating Doctor Frankenstein. When they arrived however, they learned that Frankenstein was dead and that his estate was in ruins. Larry was stricken. Later that night, he transformed again into the Wolfman and ran off into the woods, killing a girl. The villagers found her body and chased him ( not knowing who it was they were chasing) but lost him. Talbot then tumbled down into the ruins of the estate.
The next morning, he awoke in there and reliased that there still might be hope for him to die. He inspected the ruins, desperately hoping to find Doctor Frankenstein's notes. Falling through a cavern, he found an expansive, underground glacial cave. Frozen in an icy wall was the preserved body of the Frankenstein Monster. Believing that the monster might know the location of his creator's notes, he thawed the creature out and befriended it. The monster, blind and addle-brained, proved little help to Talbot.
Larry decided to track down the last known living descendent of Doctor Frankenstein, The Baroness Elsa Frankenstein. Under the pretense of looking to buy the estate, Larry finally found Elsa and told her his story. Elsa felt sympathy for Larry's situation, but was not sure how she would be able to help him. She an
Larry attended the Festival of the New Wine in Vasaria, whereupon they came across Doctor Mannering. Mannering had tracked Talbot all the way from Cardiff and was now convinced that he was telling the truth. He revealed that he wished to help Larry, either by lifting the curse or by finding some means to end his life forever. Talbot brought Mannering and Elsa to the ruins of Frankenstein Castle and presented them to the Frankenstein Monster. Elsa found her father’s notes and gave them to Mannering, who believed that he might be able to use them to cure Talbot. The records, as they pertained to the monster, suggested that by drawing electrical energy out of his body, he would be able to destroy him. Talbot felt that this same process might also be used to cure him.
Mannering got to work repairing the laboratory in preparation for the experiment. While simultaneously working on both Talbot and the Frankenstein Monster, Mannering had a change of heart, and could not bring himself to destroy Frankenstein's creation. He instead began feeding the monster more power, making him healthier and stronger. Coincidentally, this operation took place on the night of the full moon and Larry Talbot changed into The Wolf Man. Breaking free of the operating table straps, The Wolf Man attacked the Frankenstein Monster and the two began tossing each other across the laboratory.
Outside the castle, a villager named Vazec planted dynamite outside a nearby dam. The explosion destroyed the dam and the ensuing torrent of water flooded the lower chambers of the castle, washing The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster away, and destroying the castle in the process. Their bodies fell into the underground glacial cavern where they were frozen in ice.
House of Frankenstein[edit | edit source]
Several years later, a prisoner named Dr. Gustav Niemann, and his hunckback assistant, Daniel (who had earlyer escaped from prison) found the bodies of Talbot and the Monster and freed them from the ice. Talbot was still intact, but the monster was near-dead. Niemann promised Larry that he would free Talbot of the curse of the werewolf (not by killing him, but by "building a new brain for him"). But only if Talbot showed Niemann Henry Frankenstein's records.
Talbot found them and gave them to Niemann. Back on Niemann's carriges, Niemann made a disicion of reviving the monster and then by helping Talbot, but all Niemann wanted was revenge on the ones that had put him in prison. While Talbot was driving them to Visaria, he met a beautiful Gypsy girl named Ilonka, who had been brought along with them because Daniel had fallen in love with her. But she later fell in love with Larry, making Daniel grow extremely jealous.
When they reached Visaria, they found a castle and used it as an operation base to revive the monster and help Larry. But one night, the full moon rose and Larry turned again into the Wolf Man. He stalked off into the night and killed a man named Braun. The next morning, Ilonka met with him again and told him that she finally knew what Larry was afraid of: being the Wolf Man (Daniel had told her).
Ilonka knew what she had to do. She melted down her sliver necklace into a sliver bullet and loaded it into a pistol. Later that night, Talbot transformed into the Wolf Man again and came upon Ilonka, killing her. With one last strength, she fired the sliver bullet into Larry's chest. Daniel then found her body and blamed her death on Niemann, and in his rage, he attacked him. But they had awakened the monster many minutes ago.
The Monster broke lose from his stretcher and killed Daniel by throwing him out a window to his death. He grabbed Niemann and fled from the castle with a mob racing after them. After a chase through the moors, they set fire to the marshland, driving them back into a patch of quicksand, where they both sink and die.
House of Dracula[edit | edit source]
The castle was later run by a religious man named Dr. Franz Edelmann. A couple of years later, a mysterious bat circles the area and turns into Count Dracula. He enters the house and greets the doctor. The count explains to the doctor that he has come to Visaria, under the alias "Baron Latos", to find a cure for his vampirism. Dr. Edelmann agrees to help the count and lets him keep his coffin in the castle's cellar. Together with his assistants, Milizia and the hunchbacked Nina, he has been working on a mysterious plant, the clavaria formosa, with juices that have the ability to reshape bone structure. The count returns that evening, and Edelmann explains to him that he thinks vampirism can be cured by a series of blood transfusions. Dracula agrees to this, and Edelmann uses his own blood for the transfusions.
That night during the transfusion, Lawrence Talbot arrives at the castle, demanding to see Dr. Edelmann and seeking a cure for his lycanthropy. Talbot is asked to wait, but knowing that the moon is rising, Talbot has himself incarcerated by the police. A crowd of curious villagers gathers outside the police station, led by the suspicious Steinmuhl. Inspector Holtz asks Edelmann and Millizia to see Talbot. Talbot explains to Edelmann about his problem.
At first, Edelmann doesn't believe him, but when the full moon rises, they witness him transform into the Wolf Man. He trys to escape from his cell, but is unable and passes out in frustration. Edelmann and Milizia take pity on the lycanthrope, and have him transferred to his castle the next morning. Edelmann tells him that he believes that Talbot's transformations are not triggered by the moonlight, but by pressure on the brain. He believes he can relieve the pressure, but Talbot must wait for him to gather more mold from his flowers. Talbot cannot stand another night as a beast, so he runs to the cliffs behind the mansion, and throws himself off.
The doctor goes down the cliffs via a harness, and enters the caves below, looking for Talbot, but he has by this point turned into the Wolfman and attacks the doctor. Luckily, he was at the end of his transformation, and he turns back into Talbot. While in the cave, they discover the Frankenstein monster, trapped in the mud, still clutching the skeleton of Dr. Niemann. He is alive, but yet again in a catatonic state. They also discover that the damp humidity in the caves, are perfect for growing more of the plants needed for Talbot's operation. Dr. Edelmann takes the monster back to his lab and considers reviving him, for the sake of science, but decides that it would be too dangerous.
That night, Milizia is playing the piano in the living room, and Dracula appears. Dracula tries to seduce her to become a vampire like him but Milizia brandishes a crucifix before he can bite her. Edelmann interrupts the hypnosis, and explains that he has found strange antibodies in the Count's blood. They decide to have another transfusion the next day. Meanwhile, Nina is following Milizia, who is getting weak because of Dracula's influence. She catches her talking to the Count by a hall mirror and sees that the Count casts no reflection.
Meanwhile, Nina warns Edelmann of the count's intentions to make Milizia his undead bride. He prepares for a transfusion that will destroy the vampire and has Dracula come to the lab. During the transfusion, Dracula uses his hypnotic powers to send both Edelmann and Nina to sleep and reverses the flow of the transfusion, sending his own blood into the doctor's veins. When the doctor and his assistant awaken, Dracula is preparing to take Milizia away. They wake up Talbot, and fight Dracula off with a crucifix, who returns to his coffin as the sun is beginning to rise. Edelmann follows him, and drags his opened coffin into a spot of sunlight, and Dracula is destroyed, leaving only his skeleton.
Edelmann on the other hand, starts feeling sick. His blood can't handle Dracula's vampire blood, and he is infected by Dracula's evil. He returns to his room, and watches in horror as his mirror reflection vanishes. He passes out and sees strange visions of himself performing unspeakable acts. When he awakens, his face has changed, now looking as an evil Hyde-like version of himself just like in his vision. He quickly rushes to the lab, to awaken the Monster, but Nina interrupts him.
Edelmann finally performs the operation on Talbot. Afterwards, he suffers another transformation into his evil self and kills his gardner, Siegfried, who was just travilling to the village by tearing his throat open. When the townspeople discovers the body, they begin chasing Edelmann, believing him to be Talbot. They follow him to the castle and Holtz, followed by Steinmuhl, interrogate Talbot and Edelmann. Steinmuhl is convinced that Edelmann is the murderer, and assembles a mob to execute justice.
The operation on Talbot was a success, but Edelmann again turns into his evil self, and makes a final attempt to revive the Monster. The Monster awakens, but is very frail. Nina, who had followed Edelmann and is horrified. Edelmann then kills Nina by breaking her neck. The townspeople arrive, followed by Holtz (accompanied by one policeman), and Talbot. The policeman trys to attack the Monster, but he kills him while Edelmann kills Holtz by throwing him against some lab equipment, electrocuting him.
Talbot grabs a gun off of the dead policeman, and shoots the Hyde-like version of Edelmann, who falls to the floor, dead. Talbot then attacks the Monster, pushing some shelves over him. A fire breaks out, and the townspeople flee the burning castle. The Monster is trapped inside, as the roof comes crashing down on him.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein[edit | edit source]
The film opens with Lawrence Talbot making an urgent call from London to a railway baggage claim room in LaMirada, Florida where Chick Young and Wilbur Grey work as baggage-clerks. Talbot tries to impart the danger of a shipment to the "McDougal House Of Horrors" to Wilbur. However, before he is able, a full moon rises and he becomes the Wolf Man and the call is disconnected. Wilbur, thinking the call is just a crank, continues on with his work day. Then, the actual Mr. McDougal shows up to claim the shipment of crates containing "the remains of the original Count Dracula" and "the body of the Frankenstein Monster". However, when Wilbur and Chick mishandle the crates, McDougal demands that they deliver them in person so an insurance agent can inspect them for damages.
When Chick and Wilbur get to McDougal's "House Of Horrors", they open the first shipping crate and find a coffin with "Dracula" inscribed on the front. Wilbur witnesses Dracula awaken when Chick is out of the room, but fails to get his attention in time. Dracula hypnotizes Wilbur and re-animates Frankenstein's Monster. McDougal then arrives with the insurance agent and Chick in tow. Finding the storage crates empty, McDougal accuses the boys of theft and has them arrested.
That night, Dr. Sandra Mornay receives Dracula and the Monster at her island castle. Sandra, a gifted surgeon who has studied Dr. Frankenstein's notebooks, has been posing as Wilbur's girlfriend as part of Dracula's scheme to replace the Monster's brutish brain with a more pliable one — Wilbur's.
Wilbur and Chick are bailed out of jail and mistakenly believe Sandra to be their benefactor. It is actually Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph), who is secretly working for the insurance company that is processing McDougal's claim, and hopes Wilbur will lead her to the missing "exhibits". Meanwhile, Larry Talbot has taken the apartment across the hall from Wilbur and Chick. He has tracked Dracula and the Monster from Europe and knows them to be alive. Talbot asks Chick and Wilbur to help him find and destroy Dracula and the Monster.
The next day, Joan Raymond comes to Chick and Wilbur's apartment and feigns love for Wilbur. Wilbur, not expecting the favor but embracing it, invites Joan to the masquerade ball that evening. That night, Wilbur, Chick and Joan go to Sandra's castle to pick her up for the ball. While the ladies powder their noses, Wilbur answers a telephone call from someone wanting to speak to a 'Dr Lajos' (who is really Dracula in disguise). It is Talbot, who informs them that they are in fact in the "House of Dracula". Wilbur reluctantly agrees to search the castle with Chick.
Later, the two boys returned and Talbot accompanied them to the masquerade ball and then noticed Count Dracula and his Sandra Mornay (who Dracula had earlyer bitten on the throat, making her his vampire slave. Dracula, when confronted by Talbot, easily deflects accusations that he is "the real thing" by insisting that it's only his costume and he is not actually Dracula. While Dracula takes Joan for a dance, Sandra lures Wilbur to a quiet spot in the woods. Before she can move in and bite him, Chick and Larry approach and she flees. As they search for Joan, Talbot transforms into the Wolf Man and stalks Wilbur. Wilbur escapes, but the Wolf Man finds and injures McDougal. Noting that Chick has brought a wolf mask as his costume to the ball, McDougal (who was also at the masquerade ball) concludes that it was Chick who actually attacked him out of revenge. Chick manages to slip away, only to witness Dracula hypnotizing Wilbur. Chick is then also hypnotized and rendered helpless while Dracula and Sandra bring Wilbur and Joan back to the castle. The next morning, Chick and Talbot meet and Talbot tells Chick that he is the Wolf Man. After Chick explains to him that Dracula has taken Wilbur and Joan to the island they agree to work together to rescue them.
While Wilbur is being held in a pillory, Sandra finally explains to him the plan to transplant his brain into the Monster. She and Dracula leave him to prepare the Monster for the operation. Chick and Talbot arrive to rescue Wilbur, but in an attempt to escape Dracula hypnotizes Wilbur into coming back. Wilbur who is now strapped to a slab witnesses Dracula giving the Monster electrical boosts in the lab.
Just as Sandra prepares to open Wilbur's skull, Talbot and Chick storm in. Talbot struggles with Sandra and casts her aside. Chick knocks out Sandra and runs out of the lab to make Dracula leave so Talbot can save Wilbur. Just as Talbot is about to untie Wilbur, he once again transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula returns to the lab to find the Wolf Man there and flees, with the Wolf Man giving chase. Chick arrives to untie Wilbur just as the Monster, now at full power, breaks his own restraints and rises from his stretcher. Sandra attempts to order him back, but the Monster defiantly throws her out the lab window to her death. Chick and Wilbur try to escape with the Monster hot on their trail. The boys escape the castle on the boat while Professor Stevens sets fire to the pier, burning the Monster to death and finally killing him.
After trying to fight off the Wolf Man with little success, Dracula attempts to escape and transforms into a vampire bat. But the Wolfman manages to grap hold off Dracula with one last effort and both fall over a balconey to their final deaths in the rocky seas below, destroying Count Dracula and Lawrence Talbot (the Wolfman and the hero) and ending Dracula's rule of tyranny once and for all.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Lon Chaney, Jr. is the only actor to have played The Wolf Man in all of his classic Universal appearances. This distinguishes The Wolf Man from other Universal Monsters, who were portrayed by different actors from film to film. In addition, Chaney is also the only actor who has played all four of the primary Universal Monsters; Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy and The Wolf Man. In the 2010 remake of the Wolf Man, Larry Talbot is played by Benicio del Toro.
- In the original script draft, Larry Talbot's name was Larry Gill.
- When Larry Talbot transforms into The Wolf Man for the first time, he is wearing a white undershirt and grey trousers. In the following scene in the marsh, The Wolf Man is wearing darker pants and an over shirt.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Larry Talbot at Wikipedia
- Larry Talbot at Classic Horror
- Larry Talbot at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)