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

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Down 6% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Edgar Allan Poe (suggested by a story by) (credit only)
Peter Ruric (screenplay)
View company contact information for The Black Cat on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
7 May 1934 (USA) See more »
The most imaginative picture yet! (Newspaper ad cut). See more »
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:
1 win See more »
(237 articles)
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User Reviews:
More Enjoyable Than It Has Any Business Being See more (130 total) »


  (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)
Hermann Krome .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Gilbert Kurland .... music supervisor (uncredited)
Heinz Roemheld .... conductor (uncredited)
Heinz Roemheld .... musical arrangements (uncredited)
William 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 »
65 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 (1987) (festival rating) | Finland:(Banned) (1936) | UK:15 | UK:A (original rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #4601) (11 August 1938 for re-release)

Did You Know?

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 »
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 »
[first lines]
The Lieutenant:[looking over Joan's passport] Mr. and Mrs. Alison, Car 96, Compartment F. Orient Express, Budapest, Visegrad.
See more »
Romeo and Juliet OvertureSee more »


What other movies pair Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff?
Is hyoscine, the narcotic that Werdegast gives Jean, a real drug?
How does the movie end?
See more »
36 out of 37 people found the following review useful.
More Enjoyable Than It Has Any Business Being, 14 July 2004
Author: Doghouse-6 from Glendale, CA

Other commentaries will fill you in on the nearly-incomprehensible plot (if that's possible) but, as has been pointed out, you don't watch a film like this for plot.

Despite the story inconsistencies and implausibilities, everything here just seems to "jell:" the fabulous sets, elegant photography, evocative music (drawing heavily from Schubert, among others) and the downright creepy atmosphere woven from the themes of jealousy, lust, revenge, murder, sadism.....all sounds delightfully sick, doesn't it? Truly, it's nowhere near as threatening as it sounds; indeed, if Astaire and Rogers had ever made a spooky thriller, it might have looked and felt something like this one. THE BLACK CAT possesses a lyrical, rhythmic quality, upon which we drift through a sleek, ultra-modern nightmare world.

One of the reasons it all works is its ability to pull us into a sort of parallel universe which, though it looks more or less like reality as we know it, glides along on a barely-concealed undercurrent - an "atmosphere of death," as Lugosi's character puts it - where things happen that "could never actually happen" (an inside reference for those who know the film).

There are some wonderful set-pieces, such as Karloff's tour through a most unusual basement mausoleum/museum memorializing all of his dearly departed earlier "wives." And of course, Boris and Bela deliver, with their restrained but full-bodied performances. Karloff conveys menace just entering a room, and Lugosi has an all-too-rare opportunity to display some tenderness; notice the single tear that rolls down his face as he learns - and sees - what became of the wife that Karloff stole from him years before.

A very stylized - and stylish - film which grants us the unusual treat of seeing Lugosi play a (more or less) "good guy," and the unique one of hearing him pronounce the word "baloney," as only he could.

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