You’d never guess from the accents, but Universal’s 1940s werewolf classics are (at least partly) set in Wales. Is it ridiculously geeky to try to figure out where in Wales? I thought so.
In The Wolf Man (1941) and its sequel Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943) , the werewolf character, Lawrence Talbot (played by Lon Chaney Jr) is the American heir to a stately home in Llanwelly – there’s no such place, but it sounds a bit like “Llanelli”, doesn’t it?
Then, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Talbot ends up in Cardiff (yes – there is such a place – I live there).
“How did I get in Cardiff?” I recall him asking rather clumsily. To be honest, I can’t remember. I think he goes on the rampage as a wolf at night and wakes up naked on a Cardiff street (hey – it’s happened to us all, hasn’t it?) before being taken to hospital.
So the Talbot estate must be within wolf-human commuting distance of the city. According to the International Wolf Center (yes, that’s right) a wolf may travel 50 miles or more in search of food. Talbot isn’t actually a wolf – so maybe he would travel 30 or 40 miles, still giving himself time to doze off on that Cardiff street before morning.
There’s some lovely dialogue, by the way, like this phone conversation (thanks IMDB):
Inspector Owen: “This is Inspector Owen speaking, in Cardiff. Have you got anything in your files about a man named…”
Llanwelly Police Sergeant: “Lawrence Talbot? Why of course, he lived here.”
Inspector Owen: “Well, that’s all right, then. We’ve got him up here in our hospital.”
Llanwelly Police Sergeant: “I wouldn’t want him in our hospital; he died four years ago!”
Now, did you notice his name? Talbot. Well, there’s a town called Port Talbot – you know it, it’s 30-something miles from Cardiff (easily in wolf-human night-time wandering distance) – and on the way to Llanelli, via Swansea. It even has a big old house – Margam House, which would be a fitting home for an American heir/ werewolf. Mystery solved?
Thanks for your patience. Now reward yourselves with the trailers:
Here’s the trailer of the 1941 original – not much about Wales, though. And here’s the trailer for that sequel from 1943.
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