Ten years have passed since the death of millionaire, Cyrus Norman. Cosby, Cyrus' attorney, has gathered Cyrus' 6 remaining relatives to his New Orleans' mansion for Cyrus' "reading of the will". To the others disappointment, Joyce is the sole heir, but, due to a streak of insanity running in the family, a second will has been made in case Joyce falls victim to it. This puts Joyce in danger. Suddenly, Miss Lu, Cyrus' maid, appears and warns them that the spirits have told her that one of them will die that night. Following this, Hendrick, a prison guard, warns them that, "The Cat", a homicidal maniac has escaped. This sets up Cyrus' relatives with a night filled with murders, mysteries and intrigue. Written by
Many people believe that the lawyer's name (Crosby) is an in-joke reference to the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby pairing. In fact, it's a coincidence; this was the character's name in the stage play as well as the two previous film versions. Moreover, Hope and Crosby did not make a film together until Road to Singapore (1940) the following year. See more »
Most of Bob Hope's films rely heavily on the humour of the times, with references to political and cultural events figuring in significantly. Sometimes this detracts from his films, because the humour is not always self-evident. Not is the case with his performance in the remake of Paul Leni's The Cat and the Canary. Hope has one great one-liner after another in this old dark house mystery-comedy. The story is pretty familiar: a group a relations must stay a night in a house, listen to a will, and then remain there for the evening to see if the inheritor remains sane throughout the evening. Of course, we the audience are treated to secret panels, an occasional murder, hooded culprits, and a great mystery. The Cat and the Canary works so well for a number of reasons. First, it is a very atmospheric film taking place in the swamplands of Louisiana. The film is by no means big budget but does do the most with what it has. The surrounding swampland have an authentic feeling to them and the house itself is magnificently eerie. The cast is quite good with Bob Hope saving the film from tiresome formula with his special brand of humour and his excellent timing. Despite his great performance, he is almost upstaged by Gale Sondergaard as a dark, brooding servant. George Zucco also has a nice supporting role. All in all a nice way to spend an evening.
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