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The Black Cat (1941)

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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 782 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 14 critic

Elderly Henrietta Winslow lives in an isolated mansion with her housekeeper and beloved cats. As her health fails, her greedy relatives gather in anticipation of her death.


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Complete credited cast:
Mr. Penny
Hubert A. Gilmore 'Gil' Smith
Anne Gwynne ...
Elaine Winslow
Myrna Hartley
Abigail Doone
Cecilia Loftus ...
Henrietta Winslow
Claire Dodd ...
Margaret Gordon
John Eldredge ...
Stanley Borden
Richard Hartley


Greedy heirs gather to wait for the death of Henrietta Winslow. Murder, thunder claps, howling cats, gun shots, screams in the night, hidden passages -- all the proper ingredients. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Even Ladd Is Scared!


Comedy | Horror | Mystery


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 May 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gato negro  »

Box Office


$176,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Broderick Crawford's line "He thinks he's Sherlock Holmes" is a gag. At the time this was made, Basil Rathbone had already played in two Holmes films, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." See more »


Mr. Penny: [looking at the cats on the grounds after the rainstorm] It looks like it's been raining cats and cats around here.
See more »


Featured in Son of Svengoolie: The Black Cat (1941) (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

A great cast in a not so great film
4 January 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

That isn't saying that The Black Cat is a bad film, in fact to me it's pretty good. Just that considering the cast and idea it could have been better than it was.

What did let The Black Cat down in particular is Hugh Herbert, whose comedy was always an acquired taste(not a fan personally to be honest) but here he is very over-utilised and really got on my nerves. Bela Lugosi despite looking appropriately ghoulish(that ghoulish close-up is the most memorable his performance gets) and does a good job with his screen time but is wasted, not just because he doesn't have much to do but also his material is not an awful lot to write home about. The film really drags in the middle and not all the script works. The mystery parts are great and Crawford's quip to Rathbone was a delight but parts are a little melodramatic and the comedy with Herbert was like Herbert himself, more annoying than funny.

The Black Cat looks great though, it's very elegantly photographed and the sets/scenery are beautiful and creepy. The music is a little intrusive in places but it's effectively eerie and has a lot of energy as well. The mystery while having pacing issues in the middle is very compelling and suspenseful mostly, with a truly gripping ending that took me completely by surprise. The direction is never too flashy or simplistic and most of the acting is just. Gale Sondergaard is effectively mysterious and the personification of elegance, while Alan Ladd before he made it big plays it straight and more than decently and Gladys Cooper brings bags of class to her role. Broderick Crawford is likable and a lot of fun, his material works far better than Herbert's and he's much better used. Basil Rathbone does his usual solid job in a role that suits him very well and Anne Gwynne is sympathetic and not bland.

All in all, pretty good but could have been great considering the cast. 6/10 Bethany Cox

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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