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Cat People (1942)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 10,247 users  
Reviews: 127 user | 98 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)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Kent Smith ...
Tom Conway ...
...
...
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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:

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 »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

25 December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La marca de la pantera  »

Box Office

Budget:

$134,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$4,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When "The Cat Woman" (played, uncredited, by Elizabeth Russell) speaks to Irina in Serbian and calls her "my sister", Russell's dialog is dubbed by Simone Simon, See more »

Goofs

When Irena is alarmed by the woman in the restaurant, she makes the sign of the cross left-to-right, as a Western Catholic would. However, as a Serb, she would more likely have made it right-to-left, as Orthodox and Eastern Catholics do. And if she was Orthodox, she would join three fingers (thumb, index and middle finger) to make the sign of the cross, not use the whole hand. See more »

Quotes

Woman at pet shop: You can fool everybody, but laudie dearie me, you can't fool a cat. They seem to know who's not right.
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 »


Soundtracks

Do, Do, Baby, Do
Traditional French folk lullaby
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Maybe even the greatest horror film ever made
3 October 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

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.


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Really Bad Acting lcherner
I didn't like it. koomy
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