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Larry Talbot

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Chaney Lon Jr 1

Lon Chaney, Jr.

Lawrence Stuart "Larry" Talbot is a fictional character and antihero who appears as the protagonist of the 1941 Universal film The Wolf Man, where 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 Wolfman was part of all the "House of...." Universal Monster ensembles like, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. But unlike the titular character which was Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster it mostly focused on The Wolfman as a main character.

The Wolf Man (1941)Edit

Lon Chaney Jr.

Talbot in wolf form, as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Wolf Man.

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 doesn't recognise him, with his own walking stick. As he dies, he returns to human form.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)Edit

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 goes to Frankenstein's castle, as he hopes to find there the notes of Dr. Ludwig 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 lustfully carries off Elsa, the Wolf Man attacks him, she runs out of the castle with the doctor, and the two title characters "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)Edit

The film focuses on the exploits of the vengeful Dr. Gustav Niemann, who escapes from prison. He is helped by the hunchback Daniel, 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 Lawrence Talbot, the Wolf Man 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, but Ilonka is killed in the process. Daniel blames her death on Niemann and begins to choke him. The Frankenstein monster intervenes, throws Daniel out of the window, and carries the half-conscious Niemann outside, where the villagers begin to chase them and drive them into the marshes. There, both the monster and Niemann drown in quicksand.

This was the first film in which the monster is portrayed by Glenn Strange, of Gunsmoke fame. He received personal instruction from Karloff himself.

House of Dracula (1945)Edit

The main plot is that Dracula and Larry Talbot are both seeking a cure for their respective monster afflictions from Dr. Edelmann (Onslow Stevens).

Dracula actually appears to be searching for a cure for his vampirism. Somehow Dracula survived his destruction by sunlight exposure from the previous film House of Frankenstein and initially seeks to be cured of his vampirism at the hands of the doctor as he seems apparently tired of his monster nature. But after re-meeting the doctor's beautiful assistant whom he knew in his alias of "Baron Latos", Dracula's monstrous nature reasserts itself and infects Edelmann through a blood transfusion of his vampire blood, which turns Edelmann into a Jekyll and Hyde like creature. Though Edelmann succeeds in destroying Dracula, Edelmann realizes that he is slowly degrading into a murderous monster himself.

Lawrence Talbot soon arrives at Edelmann's castle, seeking a cure for the curse that turns him into a werewolf (As with Dracula, his return from destruction dealt at the end of the previous entry is not explained, but his recuperative ability via moonlight has already been established in the earlier Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man). The Frankenstein Monster plays a minor role in this film, only being found during Talbot's attempt at suicide by drowning in the ocean late in the film. The Monster does not actually go into action until almost the climactic finish, which results in Talbot finally being cured of his affliction and falling in love with Edelmann's attractive assistant, Miliza Morrelle (Martha O'Driscoll) and killing the Hyde like version of Edelmann. The Frankenstein Monster is burned to death in yet another fire, resulting in the destruction of the castle he is in.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)Edit

This film is the final appearance of The Wolfman in the original Universal Monsters cycle, and its inclusion in the "canon" is objected to by some as it is a comedy. Note that the working title of the film (which appears on the shooting script) was "The Brain of Frankenstein."

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 the 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.

Just then, Chick and Wilbur hear a disembodied voice (provided by Vincent Price): "Allow me to introduce myself, I'm the Invisible Man!" The boys jump off the boat and swim away as the Invisible Man lights his cigarette and laughs.

The Wolfman (2010)Edit

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."[1] His ancestral home is also shown to be in Blackmoor, England.

Having been sent to America as a child 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 (Emily Blunt) asks him to return to the family home by his brother Ben's fiance Gwen 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, subsequently being taken back to the asylum where he was sent as a child. During his time at the asylum, he realises 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.

Escaping during an attempted "treatment" where he is exposed to the full moon in full view of several doctors, the transformed Lawrence makes his way back to Talbot Manor, where he is forced to face his father in wolf form. Lawrence tears his father's head off after Sir John falls into the manor fire and is badly burned. Subsequently fleeing the house, Lawrence is confronted by Gwen, who is tearfully forced to shoot him. Reverting to human form, Lawrence thanks Gwen for saving him before he dies.

Other appearancesEdit

Larry Talbot appears in Allan Rune Pettersson's novel Frankenstein's Aunt. A character called Mr. Talbot appears in the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. A wolfman, named "Larry Talbot", appeared in Roger Zelazny's science fiction 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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Richard von Busack (February 11, 2010). "The Wolfman". Movie Times. http://www.mrmovietimes.com/movie-news/the-wolfman/. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 

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