Monday, October 25, 2010

Gypsy Mothra

Maleva began to recite
"Though man says his prayers ev'ry night,
a wolf he'll assume
when wolfbane's in bloom
and autumn's full moon's shining bright."

Lon Chaney Jr. and Maria Ouspenskya in The Wolf Man (GeorgeWaggner, 1941). Image source: Movie Morlocks, where Moirafinnie writes: Of Ouspenskaya‘s approximately twenty Hollywood movies, her iconic work in The Wolf Man is undoubtedly among the most memorable roles of her career. As Maleva, the gypsy woman whose maternal fatalism helps to guide Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) through his descent into lycanthropy, the actress delivers the most outlandish lines with such conviction, she lent the Curt Siodmak script enormous credibility. Encouraging Chaney to accept the supernatural significance of his true destiny after spotting the pentagram on his palm, she intones the rhyme “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright” without a trace of ironic detachment, but just enough supernatural world-weariness and maternal wisdom to bewitch audiences."

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