This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (August 2015)
|The Wolf Man character|
|Portrayed by||Lon Chaney Jr.
Benicio del Toro
|Full name||Lawrence Stuart Talbot|
|Aliases||The Wolf Man
Lawrence Stewart "Larry" Talbot, also known as The Wolf Man, is a title character of the 1941 Universal film The Wolf Man and its sequels. He was portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr. In the 2010 remake of the film, he is portrayed by Academy Award-winner Benicio del Toro. The Wolf Man was part of the Universal Monsters ensemble.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Larry Talbot returns to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales, to reconcile with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains). While there, Larry becomes romantically interested in a local girl named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), who runs an antique shop. As a pretext, he buys something from her, a silver-headed walking stick decorated with a wolf. Gwen tells him that it represents a werewolf (which she defines as a man who changes into a wolf "at certain times of the year").
That night, Larry attempts to rescue Gwen's friend Jenny from what he believes to be a sudden attack by a wolf. He kills the beast with his new walking stick, but is bitten in the process. He soon discovers that it was not just a wolf; it was a werewolf, and now Talbot has become one. A gypsy fortuneteller named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) reveals to Larry that the animal which bit him was actually her son Bela (Bela Lugosi) in the form of a wolf. Bela had been a werewolf for years and now the curse of lycanthropy has been passed to Larry.
Sure enough, Talbot transforms into a wolf and prowls the countryside, committing several murders in his wolf form and terrorising the village. After struggling unsuccessfully to overcome the curse, he is finally bludgeoned to death by his father, who does not recognise him, with his own walking stick. As he dies, he returns to human form.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Larry Talbot, the "Wolf Man", is awakened from death by grave robbers when his tomb is opened under a full moon. Seeking a cure for the curse that causes him to transform into a werewolf with every full moon, he searches for Maleva, the gypsy woman who told him of his curse and tried to help him earlier. Maleva tells him that she knows of someone who can help cure him. They set out on a journey to the Frankenstein family's castle, where he hopes to find there the notes of Dr. Henry Frankenstein so he might learn how to permanently end his own life through scientific means, knowing now that being struck by silver was not the final cure the legend claims. By chance, during his transformations into a werewolf, he falls into the castle's frozen catacombs and revives Frankenstein's monster. Finding that the Monster is unable to locate the notes of the long-dead doctor, Talbot seeks out Baroness Elsa Frankenstein, hoping she knows their hiding place. A performance of the life-affirming folk song "Faro-la Faro-Li" enrages Talbot into a fit before the Frankenstein Monster crashes the village festival. With the Monster revealed, Elsa gives the notes to Talbot and Dr. Mannering, who has tracked Talbot across Europe, so that they may be used in an effort to drain all life from both Talbot and the Monster. Ultimately, however, Dr. Mannering's desire to see the Monster at full strength overwhelms his logic, and to Elsa's horror he decides to fully revive it. As an unfortunate coincidence, the experiment takes place on the night of a full moon, and Talbot is transformed just as the Monster regains his strength. After the Monster carries off Elsa, the Wolf Man attacks him, and the two title characters seemingly perish in a flood that results after the local tavern owner blows up the town dam to drown the castle's inhabitants.
House of Frankenstein (1944)
The film focuses on the exploits of the vengeful Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff), who escapes from prison. He is helped by the hunchback Daniel (J. Carroll Naish), for whom he promises to create a new, beautiful body. The two murder a traveling showman and take over his horror exhibit. To exact revenge on Hussmann, who had once caused his imprisonment, Niemann revives Count Dracula. Dracula seduces Hussmann's granddaughter-in-law and kills Hussmann himself, but in a subsequent chase, Niemann disposes of Dracula's coffin, causing the vampire to perish in sunlight. Niemann and Daniel move on to the flooded ruins of Castle Frankenstein, where they find the bodies of the Frankenstein Monster and The Wolf Man (Lawrence Talbot), preserved in the frozen waters. Nieman thaws out the two and promises Talbot to find a cure from the curse. However, in fact he is more interested in reviving the Frankenstein monster and exacting revenge on two former associates than in his promises to Daniel or Talbot. Talbot transforms into a werewolf and kills a man, arousing the villagers.
Talbot is also envied by the hunchback Daniel as both love Ilonka, a gypsy girl. She has fallen in love with Talbot but is the object of Daniel's affection. Daniel reveals Talbot's curse to Ilonka but she is not deterred and promises to help him in fighting the curse.
Things enter a critical stage at night, as Niemann revives the Frankenstein monster and Talbot again turns into a werewolf. Talbot is shot by Ilonka with a silver bullet, thereby releasing him from the curse.
House of Dracula (1945)
Even though both Dracula and Larry Talbot perished in the previous film, in this entry they are depicted as still alive and seeking a cure for their respective afflictions from a brilliant scientist, Dr. Edelmann. Frankenstein's Monster plays a minor role in this film, only being found when Talbot tries to drown himself. In the end, Talbot is finally cured of his affliction and falls in love with Edelmann's attractive assistant, Miliza Morrelle (Martha O'Driscoll). He then kills Edelman, who has transformed into a Mr. Hyde-like creature.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
This film is the final appearance of the character in the original Universal Monsters cycle, although its inclusion in the "canon" is controversial because it is a comedy.
Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as railway baggage-clerks who deliver two crates to McDougal's House of Horrors museum. The crates contain "the remains of the original Count Dracula" (Bela Lugosi) and "the body of the Frankenstein Monster" (Glenn Strange). The monsters revive and go to the castle of Dr. Sandra Mornay, who has studied Dr. Frankenstein's notebooks, and is part of Dracula's scheme to replace the Monster's brain with Wilbur's. Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph) is secretly working for the insurance company that is processing McDougal's claim regarding the missing contents of the crates, and hopes Wilbur will lead her to the missing 'exhibits'.
Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) has tracked Dracula and the Monster to the area and asks Chick and Wilbur to help him destroy them. That night the moon is full, and Talbot insists that he be locked in his room. The following night, at Sandra's castle, Wilbur encounters Dracula and the Monster, but escapes. Later, Sandra admits to Dracula that she has put the experiment on hold. Dracula bites her in the throat. Talbot and McDougal arrive unexpectedly, but Dracula deflects Talbot's accusations, making Talbot appear disturbed. While Dracula is with Joan, Talbot transforms into the Wolfman and injures McDougal. Under the spell of Dracula, Sandra is about to carry out the brain transplant when Talbot and Chick storm in. Just as Talbot is about to untie Wilbur, he once again transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula flees, with the Wolf Man giving chase just as the Monster breaks his restraints and throws Sandra out the window. Dracula transforms into a bat, but the Wolf Man grabs him and both fall over a balcony into the rocky seas below. The boys head to a rowboat with the Monster in pursuit. Wilbur unties the boat, while Joan sets the pier on fire. The Monster turns around and marches into the flames, succumbing as the pier collapses into the water.
The Wolfman (2010)
In the 2010 remake of the film, Lawrence Talbot is played by Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro, who was "cast for his resemblance to Lon Chaney, Jr., with his clouded, thick features and his air of suffering." Lawrence is depicted as an "Anglo-Indian, which explains his complexion, and the film notes that he was educated in America, to explain his accent." His ancestral home is also shown to be in Blackmore, England.
Having been sent to America as a child by his father Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) to live with his aunt following a year in an asylum after his mother's apparent suicide, Talbot goes on to become an actor. His brother Ben's fiance Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) asks him to return to the family home to help find his missing brother. To his horror, he learns that Ben's brutally murdered body has been discovered shortly before his arrival. Attempting to investigate his brother's death, Lawrence is attacked and bitten by a werewolf after going to meet a Gypsy named Maleva. After having his wounds stitched up and being taken back to Talbot Hall, Lawrence goes through an unnaturally fast recovery leading up to the night of the full moon. The night of the full moon arrives and Lawrence finds his father creeping around Talbot Hall and follows him through the estate to his mother's burial crypt. As he finds his father and they have a short word exchange, the full moon shines and Lawrence painfully transforms into a werewolf and then begins his reign of terror and havoc among Blackmoor, brutally killing several villagers. The next morning Lawrence is woken by his father inside an old hollowed tree in front of the Talbots' estate, seconds later Lawrence is tracked down by Francis Alberline (Hugo Weaving) of Scotland Yard along with several other officers and is subsequently taken back to the asylum where he was sent as a child. During his time at the asylum, he realizes that his father, Sir John Talbot, was the werewolf who bit him, with his mother's "suicide" actually being the result of Sir John attacking her in werewolf form; Lawrence's traumatised mind simply repressed the memory out during his time at the asylum.
On the next night of the full moon, Lawrence is strapped to a chair and is being psychologically treated in front of an on-looking crowd at the asylum. In the middle of the demonstration Lawrence warns them that they are all in great danger but they laugh off his warning and continue. Seconds later the full moon shines through the asylum window and Lawrence transforms into the wolfman and brutally murders his doctor and several spectators before escaping the asylum. Lawrence tears his way through Blackmoor with Alberline hot on his trail, before escaping to London. Several days go past as Gwen tries desperately to find a cure and Lawrence heads his way back to settle things once and for all. Gwen, who meets up with the Gypsy Maleva, is informed of the tragic news that the only cure to save Lawrence is to kill him with a silver bullet. Alberline and a group of heavily armed officers and villagers ready themselves for their next encounter with the beast of Blackmoor [Lawrence]; at the same time Lawrence sneaks his way back into Talbot Hall where the final werewolf battle between him and his father takes place. Lawrence viciously kills his father by knocking him into the fireplace then decapitating him, seconds later Gwen and Alberline walk in to find Lawrence in werewolf form. In a failed attempt to kill Lawrence, Alberine is attacked and bitten by Lawrence right before he charges through Blackmoor's forests after Gwen. Weakened badly by his wounds, Alberline and his group hunt through the forest in search of Lawrence. Stopped in her tracks by a waterfall, Gwen finds herself cornered by the beast but instead of killing him with the silver bullet, tries to get Lawrence to remember who she is as he moves in closer. Starting to remember who Gwen is, Lawrence turns back to see that Alberline and his men draw nearer and lets out several large howls. Realizing what she must do, Gwen grabs the pistol off the ground and pulls the trigger just as Lawrence launches to attack her. In his last few seconds, Lawrence transforms back into human form while he lays in Gwen's arms and thanks her for setting him free. Seconds later, a badly wounded Alberline and his men arrive to find Gwen holding Lawrence's body. As Gwen discovers that Alberline has been bitten, the camera cuts back to the burning Talbot Hall and the Wolfman's howl is heard one last time.
A reboot of the Wolfman is in development to be part of Universal's Dark Universe (a shared cinematic universe around monster movies made by the company) with a script written by Aaron Guzikowski and David Callaham.
Larry Talbot appears in Allan Rune Pettersson's novel Frankenstein's Aunt. A character called Lawrence Talbot appears in the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. A wolfman, named "Larry Talbot", appeared in Roger Zelazny's supernatural fantasy novel A Night in the Lonesome October.
Talbot is also a recurring character in various short stories authored by Neil Gaiman. The stories chronicle the seemingly immortal Talbot's life as both a werewolf and as an "adjustor", an occupation of loose definition and most commonly associated with that of a private eye.
In the TV series Penny Dreadful, Ethan Chandler's real name is revealed to be Ethan Lawrence Talbot, and he suffers from the curse of lycanthropy. This version of the character is played by Josh Hartnett.
The TV series Mary Shelley's Frankenhole incorporates a parody character named Stewart Lawrence, a suicidal man who gave himself the curse of the werewolf by accidentally biting himself. He can only be killed at the hands of someone who loves him. He is voiced by Jay Johnston.
In Frank Dello Stritto's 2017 novel A Werewolf Remembers - The Testament of Lawrence Stewart Talbot Talbot's diaries are discovered in a storage room in La Mirada, Florida (where Talbot was last seen in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). In the diaries, Talbot tells of his youth, his years of exile in America, the adventures recounted in his Universal films, and the return of his curse after his cure by Dr. Edelmann (in House of Dracula).
- Richard von Busack (February 11, 2010). "The Wolfman". Movie Times. Retrieved 2010-02-17.