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Cat People (1942)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 9,868 users  
Reviews: 126 user | 97 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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Title: Cat People (1942)

Cat People (1942) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Kent Smith ...
Tom Conway ...
Jane Randolph ...
...
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Storyline

Irena Dubrovna, a beautiful and mysterious Serbian-born fashion artist living in New York City, falls in love with and marries average-Joe American Oliver Reed. Their marriage suffers though, as Irena believes that she suffers from an ancient curse- whenever emotionally aroused, she will turn into a panther and kill. Oliver thinks that is absurd and childish, so he sends her to psychiatrist Dr. Judd to cure her. Easier said than done... Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

To Kiss Her Meant Death By Her Own Fangs and Claws! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

25 December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cat People  »

Box Office

Budget:

$134,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$4,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

R.K.O. gave Val Lewton only $150,000 to make the film, resulting in "creative" producing. This forced many of the scenes requiring special effects to be done in shadows which many believe increased the suspense of the film. When studio execs insisted that more footage of the panther be included in the movie, Lewton was able to maintain the budget and the suspense of the film by limiting how many scenes the panther could be visibly seen and told the cinematographer to "keep the panther in the shadows." Thus the panther was only visible in the office and zoo cage. See more »

Goofs

When Irena does not show up at her apartment when Dr. Judd, Oliver, and Alice are waiting for her, they leave. Dr. Judd hides cane in apartment to give him an excuse to borrow Oliver's key and go back in for it, after when he leaves the door unlocked so that he can sneak back in, something hidden from Oliver and Alice. Yet after Oliver and Alice are threatened in the office, they call the apartment to warn Dr. Judd that Irena is definitely dangerous and that he should leave. See more »

Quotes

Woman at pet shop: I can't imagine!
See more »

Crazy Credits

[From the closing credits] "But black sin hath betrayed to endless night. Holy world, both parts and both parts must die."- "Holy Sonnets"- John Donne See more »

Connections

Edited into The 100 Scariest Movie Moments (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Shadow and light.
28 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

After several movies made in his native France ,Jacques (Jack) Tourneur makes his first American works in the late thirties."Cat people" is the fifth one;the others are difficult to see and anyway this is this movie that is looked upon as his towering achievement(with the exception of "out of the past") .His female star,Simone Simon,whose English was perfect,enjoyed a career in both countries too:her best part is easily Jean Renoir's "la bête humaine" ,(human beast:it's funny when you know she's playing a woman-animal here).

"Cat people" belongs to the fantasy and horror genre,but it does not really follow its rules.We're close to psychological drama.(Almost) deprived of "special effects" -which is a blessing-Tourneur works with his camera the way a painter does with shadow and light to create strange dreamy atmospheres The pièces de résistance are the scene in the swimming -pool that creates a feeling of terror without using the tricks of the trade,and the scene when Oliver and Alice are in the flat,hearing roaring.

The movie was ahead of its time in several respects:the Freudian allusions would later be developed by Fritz Lang("secret beyond the door",1945) and of course Hitchcock ("Spellbound",same year).You're going to say that these two great directors give their movies a "realistic" treatment and Jack Tourneur does not.Actually,he takes a divergent way:he introduces ambiguity,this ambiguity dear to Roman Polanski .After all,it could be a mere ,so to speak, neurosis.Few of the sequences actually deal with the supernatural :most of the time,it's a couple then a triangle:the "fantastic" elements could be real :the disturbing woman,who calls Irene "my sister",the scenes with the panther at the zoo,and the pool sequence can be explained by Irène's jealousy.

Although,it's only understood ,it's obvious that the marriage Irène/Oliver has not been consummated,because of a not clearly defined reason-how can a man as pragmatist as Oliver believe in such a far-fetched curse?Isn't it the fear of woman,of the original sin?.This topic will be brilliantly taken on by Christian de Challonges "l'alliance" (1970).Note also how Richard Donner aped the pet shops scene for "the omen" (1976).

It seems that Alice's character is an easy way out,and the weak part of the movie because she's essentially here to comfort the audience,to show the way to "straight" life and to secure a happy end.

The remake (1982) destroys all ambiguity,keeps nothing from the original story but the proper nouns ,and fills its quota of nudity and blood.Stick to the Tourneur version.


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