The Wolfman

1941

"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms and the autumn moon is bright." Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. He visits a gypsy camp with village girl Jenny Williams, who is attacked by Bela, a gypsy who has turned into a werewolf. Larry kills the werewolf but is bitten during the fight. Bela's mother tells him that this will cause him to become a werewolf at each full moon. Larry confesses his plight to his unbelieving father, Sir John, who then joins the villagers in a hunt for the wolf. Larry, transformed by the full moon, heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen.

Cast:
Claude Rains .... Sir John Talbot
Warren William .... Dr. Lloyd
Ralph Bellamy .... Col. Paul Montford
Patric Knowles .... Frank Andrews
Bela Lugosi .... Bela
Maria Ouspenskaya .... Maleva
Evelyn Ankers .... Gwen Conliffe
J.M. Kerrigan .... Charles Conliffe
Fay Helm .... Jenny Williams
Lon Chaney Jr. .... Larry Talbot/Wolf Man
Forrester Harvey .... Victor Twiddle

Evelyn Ankers

Maria Ouspenskaya

Born the daughter of a lawyer, Ouspenskaya studied singing at the Warsaw Conservatory and acting at Adasheff's School of the Drama in Moscow. She received her practical training as an actress touring stock in the Russian provinces and then joined the Moscow Art Theatre. It was here that she first worked under the direction of the great Stanislavski, whose "Method" she would go on to promote for the remainder of her life. She came to America with the Art Theatre in 1922 and remained after they returned to Moscow to become a dominant Broadway actress for more than a decade. In 1929 she founded the School of Dramatic Art in New York. It was to help keep the school funded that she accepted her first Hollywod film, Dodsworth, in 1936. (She had appeared in a few movies in Russia.) This began a lucrative association, for Ouspenskaya, Hollywood and the viewing public, that would last for more than a dozen years and two dozen films.She died of a stroke 3 days after a lighted cigarette set fire to her bed.She received two supporting Oscar nominations for the films Dodsworth (1936) and Love Affair (1939). She appeared in Dodsworth for only four minutes; in Love Affair, her scenes added up to a total of ten.Studied opera in both Warsaw and Moscow but switched gears to acting and started off at the Adasheff's School of Drama at the age of 30+.An actor/instructor with Konstantin Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theatre (from 1911), she toured thoughout Europe during the Communist takeover and appeared in over 100 plays. When the company arrived in the United States, she remained.Taught acting at New York's American Laboratory Theatre in the 20s until forming her own acting school, the Maria Ouspenskaya School of Dramatic Arts, in 1929. She moved her studio to Hollywood in the late 30s when her film career began to flourish. Some of her more famous students included John Garfield and acting gurus Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. Iif a wizened matriarch of any nationality was required for a movie - French, Polish, East Indian - Mme. Oupenskaya was among the first to be called upon. Despite her steady work in A-pictures, it was for a medium-budget horror film that she is best remembered today. In The Wolf Man (1941), it is Ouspenskaya as mournful gypsy woman Maleva who breaks the news that poor Lon Chaney Jr. has been bitten by a werewolf; the actress' chilling recital of the famed Wolf Man curse ("Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night") is enough to give adult viewers nightmares. She repeated the role in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)

Fay Helm

Fay Helm was born on 9 April 1909 in Bakersfield, California. One of the last players to survive from Universal Studios' "Golden Age," actress Fay Helm, appeared in 64 films between 1936 and 1946. Even in her twenties, American actress Fay Helm exuded a clear-minded maturity that enabled her to avoid traditional ingenue roles. Signed by Columbia in 1938, Helm played Mrs. Fuddle in several of the early "Blondie" entries. One memorable example is her part as Jenny Williams, the woman bitten by werewolf Bela Lugosi -- who later passes his curse onto Lon Chaney -- in the Universal classic, "The Wolf Man." Two years later, she was the frosty, elusive title character in the film noir classic Phantom Lady. Also for Universal, she appeared in such shockers as "Captive Wild Woman" with John Carradine, "Calling Dr. Death" with Lon Chaney and "Night Monster" with Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. Other notable parts include the comic-thriller "One Body Too Many" with Lugosi, Jack Haley and Jean Parker. Her final film was 1946's "That Brennan Girl." She retired from films shortly thereafter. Fay helm died on 27 September 2003 in California. She was 94 years old.

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