The Movie: The Wolf Man (1941)
What Is It?: Writer Curt Siodmak, director George Waggner, and makeup wizard Jack Pierce reinvent the werewolf. Much of what we now associate with lycanthropes—their aversion to silver, their association with the pentagram, their kinship with gypsies—leaped from Siodmak’s imagination. He also composed an ace nursery rhyme repeated infinitely throughout The Wolf Man and its sequels (“Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night / may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright”). The film’s other great innovation is the introduction of Lon Chaney, Jr., as the next successor in his father’s monster-movie-star legacy.
Why Today?: Today is the first day of autumn.