Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Wolf Man (1941) - Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection – Universal Pictures (4k UHD)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1933
Director: George Waggner
Cast: Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, J.M. Kerrigan, Fay Helm, Forrester Harvey, Lon Chaney Jr.

Release Date: October 5th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 69 Minutes 55 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French, DTS-HD Mono Spanish (Castilian), DTS-HD Mono German, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Chinese (English Version)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $79.99 (Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection)

"A cursed man who transforms into a deadly werewolf when the moon is full." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

The Wolf Man (1941) comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD. 

Disc Size: 60.3 GB

Feature: 49.1 GB 

When Universal Pictures released The Wolf Man (1941) on Blu-ray in 2012 for Universal Pictures 100th anniversary. The source used for that transfer looked fantastic. For this new release Universal uses that transfer as its source.

For a seventy-year old film The Wolf Man (1941) the source used for this transfer looks exceptionally good. Contrast, black levels and image clarity look solid throughout. I did not see any compression related issues and there are no issues related to noise reduction, this transfer retains an organic look. 

Audio: 4.5/5

The Wolf Man (1941) comes with five audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English, a DTS-HD mono mix in French, a DTS-HD mono mix in Spanish (Castilian), a DTS-HD mono mix in Dutch and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. For this review I listened to the DTS-HD mono English track. There are no issues with distortion or background hiss, dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds/the score are well-represented. That said, for a film that’s ninety-years old, this audio track sounds excellent. The English version comes with thirteen subtitles options, English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Chinese.

Extras:

Extras for The Wolf Man (1941) include an image gallery with music from the film playing in the background titled The Wolf Man Archives (posters/lobby cards/stills), a trailer gallery: Werewolf in London (1 minute 22 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), The Wolf Man (1 minute 48 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1 minute 37 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), House of Frankenstein (1 minute 40 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), House of Dracula (1 minute 26 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1 minute 38 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles) and She-Wolf of London (1 minute 21 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), a featurette titled 100 Years of Universal: The Lot (9 minutes 27 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), a featurette titled He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce (25 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), a featurette titled Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr. (36 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), a featurette titled The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth (10 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles), a featurette titled Monster by Moonlight (32 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Dutch, Chinese subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historian Tom Weaver.

Included with this release is a Blu-ray that has all the content on the 4K UHD except Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein trailer. Also, the Blu-ray only comes with two audio options, DTS-HD mono English and DTS-HD mono French. There are only two subtitles options, English SDH and French.

Also, the Blu-ray is the same as Universal’s 2012 Blu-ray.

The Wolf Man (1941) is part of Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection, a box set that also has Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933).

Summary:

By the early 1940’s Universal’s monster films had already reached their apex. And though Universal continued to make monster movies. These movies feel more like a parody and/or cheap knockoffs of Universal's most celebrated monster movies. That was until the release of The Wolf Man in 1941.

Where Universal’s earlier monster movies originated from literary sources, The Wolf Man (1941) is from an original screenplay written by Curt Siodmak (The Beast with Five Fingers, Creature with the Atom Brain). And though The Wolf Man (1941) was loosely based on folklore. There are many elements in The Wolf Man (1941) that remain the basis for all werewolf films that followed.

What sets The Wolf Man (1941) apart from other Universal monsters that preceded it was its protagonist was a victim of circumstance, instead of being a creation of a scientist or the result of an experiment that went wrong. And because of this the protagonist is able to gain sympathy that the other Universal monsters are unable too.

Content wise, The Wolf Man (1941) has all the ingredients that are synonymous with Universal's most celebrated monster movies. The premise is perfectly realized and a well-executed narrative keeps you on the edge of your seat. And though limited mostly to the werewolf transformation sequences. The result is very effective special effects from the legendary makeup artist Jack P. Pierce.

Not too be overlooked when discussing The Wolf Man (1941) is Lon Chaney Jr.'s defining performance of his career in the role of Lawrence Talbot, a man who becomes a werewolf after being attacked by another werewolf. He delivers a captivating performance that captures his character's pathos. Other notable cast include Claude Rains (The Invisible Man - 1933) in the role of Lawrence’s father, Maria Ouspenskaya in the role of a gypsy woman who tries to help Lawrence and Bela Lugosi (Dracula - 1931) in the role of a gypsy/werewolf who bites Lawrence. Ultimately, The Wolf Man (1941) is a phenomenal film that deserves its place as one of Universal's greatest monster films.

George Waggner’s The Wolf Man gets a stunning 4K upgrade, highly recommended.

                                                              4K UHD screenshots.












Written by Michael Den Boer

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