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The Black Cat
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The Black Cat (1934) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.2/10   5,314 votes »
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Down 33% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Edgar Allan Poe (suggested by a story by) (credit only)
Peter Ruric (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Black Cat on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
7 May 1934 (USA) See more »
Tagline:
Things you never said before or even dreamed of!
Plot:
American honeymooners in Hungary are trapped in the home of a Satan- worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Karloff & Lugosi together for the first time See more (125 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Boris Karloff ... Hjalmar Poelzig (as Karloff)

Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Vitus Werdegast
David Manners ... Peter Alison
Julie Bishop ... Joan Alison (as Jacqueline Wells)
Egon Brecher ... The Majordomo
Harry Cording ... Thamal
Lucille Lund ... Karen
Henry Armetta ... The Sergeant
Albert Conti ... The Lieutenant
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Virginia Ainsworth ... Cultist (uncredited)
Luis Alberni ... Train Steward (uncredited)
King Baggot ... Cultist (uncredited)
Herman Bing ... Car Steward (uncredited)
Symona Boniface ... Cultist (uncredited)

John Carradine ... Cult Organist (uncredited)
André Cheron ... Train Conductor (uncredited)
George Davis ... Bus Driver (uncredited)
Anna Duncan ... Maid (uncredited)
John George ... Cultist (uncredited)
Rodney Hildebrand ... Brakeman (uncredited)
Lois January ... Cultist (uncredited)
Michael Mark ... Cultist Binding Joan (uncredited)
Tony Marlow ... Patrolman (uncredited)
Alphonse Martell ... Train Porter (uncredited)
Paul Panzer ... Cultist Binding Joan (uncredited)
Albert Pollet ... Waiter (uncredited)
Peggy Terry ... Cultist (uncredited)
Harry Walker ... Cultist (uncredited)
Paul Weigel ... Stationmaster (uncredited)

Directed by
Edgar G. Ulmer 
 
Writing credits
Edgar Allan Poe (suggested by a story by) (credit only)

Peter Ruric (screenplay)

Edgar G. Ulmer (story) &
Peter Ruric (story)

Tom Kilpatrick  contributing writer (uncredited)

Produced by
E.M. Asher .... supervising producer (uncredited)
Carl Laemmle Jr. .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)
 
Film Editing by
Ray Curtiss 
 
Art Direction by
Charles D. Hall 
 
Costume Design by
Edgar G. Ulmer (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
M.F. Murphy .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William J. Reiter .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sam Weisenthal .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Edgar G. Ulmer .... set designer (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Gilbert Kurland .... sound supervisor (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Jack Cosgrove .... matte artist (uncredited)
John P. Fulton .... process photography (uncredited)
David S. Horsley .... camera effects (uncredited)
Russell Lawson .... matte artist (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
John J. Mescall .... camera
Roman Freulich .... still photographer (uncredited)
King D. Gray .... second camera operator (uncredited)
John J. Martin .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ed Ware .... costumer (uncredited)
Vera West .... costumer (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Heinz Roemheld .... musical director
Larry Aicholtz .... music recordist (uncredited)
James Huntley .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Gilbert Kurland .... music supervisor (uncredited)
Heinz Roemheld .... conductor (uncredited)
Heinz Roemheld .... music adaptor (uncredited)
Walter Schiller .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Carl Laemmle .... presenter
Moree Herring .... script clerk (uncredited)
Peter Ruric .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Shirley Ulmer .... assistant: Tom Kilpatrick (uncredited)
Peggy Vaughan .... supervising secretary (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Vanishing Body" - USA (reissue title)
See more »
Runtime:
65 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Certification:
Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 (1987) | Finland:(Banned) (1936) | UK:15 | USA:Approved (PCA #4601) (11 August 1938 for re-release)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The satanic prayer Poelzig chants during the black mass scene consists of random phrases in Latin, the most recognizable being "cum grano salis" (with a grain of salt). The complete chant, is as follows:

Latin Phrases: Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Humanum est errare. Lupis pilum mutat, non mentem. Magna est veritas et praevalebit. Acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta. Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem. Amissum quod nescitur non amittitur. Brutum fulmen. Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Fructu, non foliis arborem aestima. Insanus omnes furere credit ceteros. Quem paenitet peccasse paene est innocens.

English translation: With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. To err is human. The wolf may change his skin, but not his nature. Truth is mighty, and will prevail. External actions show internal secrets. Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even. The loss that is not known is no loss at all. Heavy thunder. With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. By fruit, not by leaves, judge a tree. Every madman thinks everybody mad. Who repents from sinning is almost innocent.See more »
Goofs:
Audio/visual unsynchronized: None of the organ music matches the notes the characters are playing. This is most visible when Karloff is playing Toccata and Fugue in D minor late in the film.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
The Lieutenant:[looking over Joan's passport] Mr. and Mrs. Alison, Car 96, Compartment F. Orient Express, Budapest, Visegrad.
See more »
Soundtrack:
Symphony no. 8 (Unfinished)See more »

FAQ

What is 'The Black Cat' about?
What other movies pair Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff?
Where is Visgard located?
See more »
32 out of 33 people found the following review useful.
Karloff & Lugosi together for the first time, 10 August 2002
Author: cdauten from Kansas CIty, MO USA

THE BLACK CAT (1934) Starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop Directed by Edgar Ulmer

The first film to feature both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, THE BLACK CAT was, and remains, innovative and strange. The opening credits claim the film was "suggested by" the Edgar Alan Poe story, but other than the title there is absolutely no connection.

Lugosi gets to play a good guy for a change and he handles it very well. In fact, I might venture to say that the role of Dr. Vitus Werdegast is Lugosi's finest performance, perhaps because it is so much of a departure from the role of Dracula. Karloff plays Hjalmar Poelzig, a Satanic architect with a really freaky hairdo. David Manners and Julie Bishop portray the Allisons, an American couple honeymooning in Hungary (doesn't everyone?).

The real star of this film, though, is the house. What an incredible set! The house, designed and built by Poelzig on the ruins of a WWI fort where thousands of soldiers are entombed, is an architectural marvel, even by today's standards. All glass and steel, the house consists of sharp angles that cast long, expressionistic shadows, which gives the film its extremely creepy atmosphere.

Werdegast (Lugosi) meets the Allisons on a train and later shares a cab with them. As they drive through a storm, he explains that he is going to visit an old friend after having spent 15 years as a prisoner of war. Not far from his friend's house the cab crashes, killing the driver and injuring Mrs. Allison. They carry her to Werdegast's friend's house. The friend, of course, is Poelzig (Karloff) and it soon becomes obvious that the term "friend" is applied very loosely. In fact, the men have become enemies due to the fact that Poelzig betrayed Werdegast during the war, which led to his long imprisonment. In the basement, Poelzig reunites Werdegast with his wife, now dead and whom Poelzig had married himself while Werdegast was in prison. The freaky architect has been keeping her preserved in some sort of suspended animation type thing. When Werdegast demands to know his daughter's whereabouts, Poelzig tells him that she, too, has died.

What follows is a bizarre tale of two men who are opposite sides of the coin. They engage in a chess match (literally and figuratively) with the soul of the injured Mrs. Allison up for grabs. THE BLACK CAT is incredibly creepy and has some real suspenseful moments. It also has some very disturbing scenes, especially for a film made in 1934. The scene of Karloff reciting the black mass in Latin is especially ominous. One cannot, however, help noticing some gaping holes in the plot. Dr. Werdegast is supposed to be Hungary's leading doctors, and yet he has just been released from 15 years of imprisonment. Huh? Also, there is a cruel scene where Lugosi's character kills a black cat (he has a phobia) and nobody seems to think anything about it...even though it appears to have been a pet in the household. These minor points do not take away from the overall viewing experience, though. THE BLACK CAT still looks great after all these years and it still has the ability to make you shudder.

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