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The Black Cat (1934) Poster

(1934)

Trivia

Edgar G. Ulmer dubbed Boris Karloff's line at the end of the chess match: "You lose, Vitus".
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This was Universal's biggest hit of 1934.
The ill-fated bus driver is a direct homage to the doorman in The Last Laugh (1924), on which Edgar G. Ulmer worked as Production Designer.
While working on the film, Edgar G. Ulmer began a love affair with 'Shirley Castle', who would eventually become his wife. At the time, Castle was married to Universal producer Max Alexander. The ensuing scandal led to Ulmer being blackballed from most major Hollywood studios throughout the rest of his career.
The first film collaboration of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, who at the time were unquestionably the two biggest stars of horror film. Despite rumors that the two stars were personally very competitive, this marked the beginning of a pleasant working relationship between the two. While Lugosi and Karloff never became close personal friends, they were quite amicable to each other and enjoyed working together.
The British release title was changed from "The Black Cat" to "The House of Doom" because in Britain, black cats are considered a sign of good luck - not bad.
The satanic prayer Poelzig chants during the black mass scene consists of phrases in Latin, the most recognizable being "cum grano salis" (with a grain of salt).
Censors in Italy, Finland and Austria banned the movie outright, while others required cuts of the more gruesome sequences.
The first of eight movies to pair Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
Among the unconventional elements of this film was the soundtrack. At a time (early 1930s) when movie music was usually limited to the titles and credits, Edgar G. Ulmer had an almost continuous background score throughout the entire film.
Boris Karloff's character is named after Austrian architect and art director Hans Poelzig. Poelzig worked on The Golem (1920), on which director Edgar G. Ulmer was set designer.
Director Edgar G. Ulmer, when writing this film, loosely based the villain Hjalmar Poelzig, played by Boris Karloff, on director Fritz Lang. Ulmer knew Lang from the German-Austrian film scene and, though he was a huge admirer of Lang's films, felt Lang to be a sadist as a director.
The only Universal picture until The Wolf Man (1941) to introduce the major characters during the opening credits, and the actors playing them, with brief clips from the movie.
The door bell in Poelzig's house plays the first four notes from a recurring theme from Richard Wagner's opera "Die Meistersinger".
When re-released by Realart Pictures in the early 1950s, the title was changed to "The Vanishing Body" in an attempt to distinguish it from the 1941 Universal film, also titled "The Black Cat," to which Realart had also licensed the distribution rights.
Edgar G. Ulmer admitted in an interview that Edgar Allan Poe's story was credited to draw public attention, despite the fact it had nothing to do with the story in the movie.
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The set of the main room in Poelzig's house were built for $1,500.
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Edgar G. Ulmer dubbed Bela Lugosi's voice instructing his servant to "wait here" before accompanying Boris Karloff down to be shown his preserved dead wife.
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Part of the original Shock Theater package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later with SON OF SHOCK, which added 20 more features.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Reportedly Universal Studios executives were displeased when they viewed the first cut of the film and so ordered the director to do some extra shooting to tone the violence and horror down. Edgar G. Ulmer did the opposite, and added in the now-famous sequence where Poelzig (Boris Karloff) views his dead but preserved wives before he reveals the fate of Karen to Dr. Werdegast.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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