The Wolf Man

Released the very same week as Pearl Harbor, The Wolf Man (1941) has an American innocent become embroiled in European intrigue, leading to bloodshed and madness. Though nominally set in a back-lot Welsh village, where Americanized scion Larry (Lon Chaney Jr.) returns to the family manor, the fog-shrouded film carries a taint--"some beast the Gypsies left behind." The moonlight (and a wolf's bite) release impurities in poor dumb Larry's blood. While his father (Claude Rains) and other men of science attempt to explain "this mental quagmire" that afflicts him (i.e., he only thinks he's a wolf, and could perhaps benefit from psychoanalysis), Larry grows increasingly despondent. He has no use for theories: "That's all Greek to me," he laments. All he knows is that the Old World and its superstitions have contaminated him. By day, he's courting a village beauty. By night, covered in hair topped with an alarmingly Afro-style wig, he stalks her with vicious intent. Old Europe has made him a killer; and in the film's final pathos, Old Europe (his father) kills him, too. Chaney had his signature role as the doomed Lennie in Of Mice and Men two years prior, and The Wolf Man echoes its sad finale. Larry, too, is put down like a rabid dog. (Note: No show Weds.) (PG) BRIAN MILLER

Oct. 7-13, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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