A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis ... See full summary »
Dr. John Holden ventures to London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium with the intention to expose devil cult leader, Julian Karswell. Holden is a skeptic and does not believe in ... See full summary »
On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »
Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
When the shepherd arrives and finds the dead sheep, there's a live sheep sitting behind him. After a brief shot of the footprints that he's examining, the film returns to a shot of the shepherd, and the sheep is gone. See more »
[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 »
The horror genre has had many of the greatest films of all time stem from it, and Cat People is, without doubt, one of the best and most important. The film represents the first collaboration between (probably) horror's most important producer, and one of the genre's best directors. Under Val Lewton's watchful eye, Jacques Tourneur has managed to put together a film that successfully fuses a foreboding atmosphere with a terrific storyline and the result is a film with merits impossible to deny. The story starts off slowly, with Kent Smith's American gentleman meeting the Serbian beauty Simone Simon sketching a black leopard in a zoo. From there, the two fall in love amidst a backdrop of malevolence stemming from her belief that she is the victim of an ancient curse on her village that means she will transform into a black panther if emotionally aroused. The two get married anyway, but it soon becomes apparent that this curse will play a bigger part in their marriage than either of them first imagined or hoped.
There are two sides to this great movie. The first side is the technical one. Jacques Tourneur's handling of the camera is superb, and the way that the characters are manipulated into certain situations allows him to really show his talent. Consider the famous shadow-laden scene at the swimming pool, or the sequence that sees Jane Randolph being pursued by a mysterious presence. These scenes work not because of the characters or the situation; but because of the way that Tourneur captures the scene. He would go on to show this talent throughout his career, but it's done best here. The acting is typical of the forties, with much of it being soaked in melodrama. This actually helps the film because the heavy performances allow you to really get into what the film is trying to achieve and, despite the fact that the subject material is definitely 'B-class'; the acting gives it a grounding alongside the bigger budgeted films of it's day. The beautiful Simone Simon takes the lead role, and it's her persona and European origin that gives the film much of it's intrigue and mystery. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph are great in support, while Tom Conway shines like he has in several other Val Lewton films in his small but effective role as the psychiatrist.
The second side of the film concern's its story. This is the main reason why Cat People is such an enchanting piece of cinema. Soaked in mystery, the central plot - which handles themes of lust, aggression and not being able to subdue certain emotions, will always be relevant to whoever is viewing the film. While here it is portrayed in a much more extreme way than in real life, the fundamentals of what the plot is portraying exist in every person. More important than this, however, is the way that the mythology is built up around the 'cat people'. We are never really given a definite explanation as to what the curse is all about, and this allows the director to tap into the fear of the unknown, and this also allows him to keep the cards regarding the ending close to his chest throughout. Obviously, due to the time in which it was made; Cat People wasn't allowed to show shocking violence, but it implies brilliantly; and despite the fact that we never really see anything - it is easy to believe otherwise. The simple plot really helps the film as it allows it to convey what it needs to convey without getting tangled up in sub-plots and other non-essential elements; and this piece of pulp poetry really shows that you don't need an epic running time to create a successful film. I really can't recommend this film highly enough.
23 of 31 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?