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The Cat and the Canary (1939)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,074 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 12 critic

When an eccentric family meets in their uncle's remote, decaying mansion on the tenth anniversary of his death for the reading of his will, murder and madness follow.

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Title: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Wally Campbell
...
Joyce Norman
John Beal ...
Fred Blythe
Douglass Montgomery ...
...
Miss Lu
Elizabeth Patterson ...
Aunt Susan
George Zucco ...
Nydia Westman ...
Cicily
...
Hendricks, guard
George Regas ...
Indian guide
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Storyline

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 Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

night | murder | mansion | eccentric | cat | See more »

Taglines:

Who is THE CAT? His movements soundless, his approach unnoticeable, his vengeance swift! Who will feel his horrible, hairy grasp next? See more »


Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gato y el canario  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paulette Goddard did not actually come on board this project until more than three months after Paramount had announced their intention to remake the 1927 film. Successively preceding Goddard as the film's prospective leading lady had been two of Bob Hope's recent co-stars, Martha Raye and Shirley Ross, respectively. Though the reasoning behind Raye's replacement by Ross was never made public, the rationale for Paramount's final choice is no great mystery. A bigger star than either Ross or Raye, Goddard was snapped up by Paramount once she became available, owing to preproduction snafus with Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). See more »

Quotes

Wally Campbell: [to Joyce] You know, what this party needs is more drinks and more laughs.I'll tell yuh, I'll bring a bottle of scotch from the living room. Let's all drink scotch and make wry faces.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Seul le cinéma (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Classic
17 July 2001 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

The silents brought us a number of classic comedians who were skilled at making the audience laugh without uttering a word. With the advent of sound, some of these comedians found the transition hard and most still relied on their old silent routines for their jokes. Bob Hope was the first comedian who's mouth provided the punchline. The Cat and the Canary was his first leading part and yet it's not designed purely for his advantage, this is a great picture, both funny and exciting.

Bob Hope is the star. He's hilarious. He's sympathetic. He's also a coward, which isn't such an asset when you're staying in a house filled with escaped lunatics, suspicious servants, and numerous trapdoors. Hope plays a radio personality who involuntarily becomes the bodyguard to a woman, Joyce, who recently inherited a lot of money. The house is filled with other guests that are upset at having lost out on the inheritance. To make matters worse, if Joyce dies within a month, the money goes to whoever was the substitute inheritor and that person's name lies in an envelope safely hidden in a safe. As guests start dying, the tension increases, as does Hope's one-liner's. "I've got goosepumps. In fact, my goosebumps have got goosebumps."

Today, the plot seems like one from an episode of Scooby-Doo but it's still fun and surprisingly smart. The cast is small but solid and the murderer is never guessed until the end. A few red herrings are thrown in but when the guilty party is revealed, it does make sense, a necessity rarely used in Hollywood today.

As a vehicle for Hope it works a charm. As a movie in itself it should be recognised as a classic.


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