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The Wolf Man Cometh A Retrospective by Daniel Noble The Universal monster films of the late 1930s and early 1940s were quite a unique phenomenon Although popular with audiences upon their initial release they did not reach the height of their commercial appeal until the 1950s when they reappeared on late night television and spawned a completely new generation of fandom Children of the 1950s and 60s went monster crazy and along with screenings of Frankenstein The Wolf Man and Dracula on TV came publications such as Famous Monsters of Filmland and Eerie not to mention countless others It was thanks to the immense revisiting of these films that we can attribute the popular interpretation of the reception of these works To many the names Karloff Lugosi and Chaney are synonymous with classic horror but in the years prior to the arrival of television which many classify as the golden age of Hollywood the genre of Monster Horror was not yet refined and it is fascinating to study the effects these films had on society upon their original release Using the 1941 classic The Wolf Man as an example I will examine the varying factors which led to the films initial success and how they have attributed to the mythology of Universal Horror as it is interpreted today It is not uncommon to associate the name Lon Chaney jr with the horror films of the 1940s During his contract with Universal in the 1940s Mr Chaney was the only actor to portray all of Universals core assembly of monsters including The Wolf Man Dracula Frankenstein and The Mummy becoming a legend in the process Yet prior to 1941 Mr Chaney was merely a struggling actor living in the shadow of his late fathers legacy According to the official website of the Chaney family the original press book for The Wolf Man included references to the senior Lon Chaney whose son
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