Cat People (1942)

Approved  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  25 December 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 12,108 users  
Reviews: 132 user | 110 critic

An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.



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Complete credited cast:
Kent Smith ...
Jane Randolph ...


Serbian national Irena Dubrovna, a fashion sketch artist, has recently arrived in New York for work. The first person who she makes a personal connection with there is marine engineer Oliver Reed. The two fall in love and get married despite Irena's reservations, not about Oliver but about herself. She has always felt different than other people, but has never been sure why. She lives close to the zoo, and unlike many of her neighbors is comforted by the sounds of the big cats emanating from the zoo. And although many see it purely as an old wives' tale, she believes the story from her village of ancient residents being driven into witchcraft and evil doing, those who managed to survive by escaping into the mountains. After seeing her emotional pain, Oliver arranges for her to see a psychiatrist to understand why she believes what she does. In therapy, Dr. Judd, the psychiatrist, learns that she also believes, out of that villagers' tale, that she has descended from this evil - women ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


She was one of the dreaded "Cat People" - doomed to slink and prowl and court by night... fearing always that a lover's kiss might change her into a snarling, clawing KILLER! See more »


Horror | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »




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Release Date:

25 December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La marca de la pantera  »

Box Office


$134,000 (estimated)


$4,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was in theaters for so long that critics who had originally bashed the film were able to see it again and many rewrote their reviews with a more positive spin. See more »


In the opening scene, Oliver and Alice are standing together at the hot dog vendor's stand in the zoo. After the business of the discarded sketch, Alice has mysteriously disappeared. See more »


Irena Dubrovna: That's Lalage - the perfume I use. I like it, perhaps too well. Maybe I use too much of it, living alone like this.
Oliver 'Ollie' Reed: It's hard to describe. It's not like flowers exactly. It's - it's like something warm and living.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[From the opening credits] "Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depression in the world consciousness."- "The Anatomy of Atavism"- Dr. Louis Judd See more »


Do, Do, Baby, Do
Traditional French folk lullaby
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Horror As Art
9 August 2002 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

Not since the heyday of James Whale in the early and mid-thirties had there been anything like this one, a horror art movie. As persuasively acted by Kent Smith and Simon Simon, it concerns a young American architect, romantic if somewhat dry, and his Serbian-born wife, who has an irrational fear of turning into a cat. Since our introduction to her has her standing in front of the lion cage at the zoo, we are inclined to believe her.

The couple's sexual difficulties (we see him sleeping on the sofa) lead the husband to suggest psychotherapy, which turns out to have tragic consequences, as it gets the poor woman too in touch with her feelings. Very little of the horror in this film is shown. Cat People was revolutionary in this respect, and had a huge impact on many films that followed, not just horrors. The picture also put its producer, Val Lewton, on the map, making him the first and last wunderkind of B movies, as he became somewhat of a celebrity from this point on, turning out high quality fright films for the next four years. Never before or since has a B level producer achieved such status.

Director Jacques Tourneur deserves the lion's share of credit for this movie, bringing his light touch, in itself almost feline, to every scene; and in making the story seem far more intelligent than it is. Like Lewton, Tourneur was a gifted man whose natural refinement was both his making as well as his undoing, since a man of his taste and sensibility could never thrive in Hollywood, and could only expect success in fits and starts, as indeed would prove to be the case.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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How on earth is this rated so high........... theghostofleifericson
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