Rich old Cyrus West's relatives are waiting for him to die so they can inherit. But he stipulates that his will be read 20 years after his death. On the appointed day his expectant heirs arrive at his brooding mansion. The will is read and it turns out that Annabelle West, the only heir with his name left, inherits, if she is deemed sane. If she isn't, the money and some diamonds go to someone else, whose name is in a sealed envelope. Before he can reveal the identity of her successor to Annabelle, Mr. Crosby, the lawyer, disappears. The first in a series of mysterious events, some of which point to Annabelle in fact being unstable. Written by
Writer/director Robert F. Hill not only wrote the adaptation for this film but also served as a sort of assistant/associate director for Paul Leni. Leni, a German, didn't speak much English, and Hill spoke German, so he acted as a liaison between Leni and the cast and crew. See more »
As Tully Marshall's dead body falls to the floor, the actor can be clearly seen extending his hands to break the fall. See more »
I've read other user comments on this film, and I want to add my own. "The Cat and The Canary" is one of those films that is often spoken about as being one of the classic horror films of the silent era, and after watching this film it is easy to see why.
From the opening sequence, of a hand brushing away dust and cobwebs to reveal the films title, to the closing shot, the film is very spooky. Yes, I will say that at times the film is almost too spooky, and that some of the acting is overdone.
The plot of the film is simple: 20 years after a wealthy and thought to be insane man has died, his family gathers to read the contents of his will.
Those who see this film will see all types of cliches in the horror movie genre, hidden panels, hands reaching out from behind walls, creepy shadows, but the interesting thing to note is that this film was among the first to use these effects, in other words you are seeing these things occur before they became commonplace.
This was an early horror film made by Universal Pictures, fresh on the success of other classic Universal horror films like Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The director of this film, Paul Leni, was German, and the film directly relates that. This film is a classic example of how German filmmaking influenced American films. If you like this film, and especially the camera style, stylish sets, and the general modd and feel of the film, take a look at other German silent films, and you will love them as well.
This film is now Public Domain, and is available on DVD and VHS from several companies. IMDB lists its length in the 80 minute range, however the version I saw, with a new score is 101 minutes long. I highly reccomend this film.
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