The 1941 film is about 70 minutes long. In that time, it manages to establish about five or six reasonably well-developed characters (at least Lawrence, Maleva, Gwen, John, and Bela, arguably Frank Andrews), and be not only a story about a man who gets bitten by a werewolf, but a story about the complex relationship between an estranged father and son, a story about the dual nature of man, a really sad love story ("You wouldn't wanna run away with a murderer, would you?"), and a pretty solid psychological thriller/mystery. It's one of the most tightly plotted movies ever made, but gets no love on account of being known mostly for being the first good werewolf movie.
Larry Talbot's werewolf form is a case of the man pulling off an awesome performance. Chaney's performance is one of the all-time homeruns of the horror genre, and he made Lawrence Talbot such a memorable, tragic, and lovable character that he was the only one of the classic Universal monsters to never be recast.