7.4/10
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143 user 119 critic

Cat People (1942)

Not Rated | | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller | 25 December 1942 (USA)
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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Cast

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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The exciting story of a woman who kills the thing she loves! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

25 December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Cat People  »

Box Office

Budget:

$134,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$4,000,000 (USA)
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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

The film was such a hit at the box office, the releases of the next two Lewton films (I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and The Leopard Man (1943)) were delayed. 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

Alice Moore: Could you squeeze a coffee pot for me, Minnie?
Minnie: I sure could! Only this coffee's been workin' so long, its got muscles.
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

Dodo, L'Enfant Do
(uncredited)
Traditional French folk lullaby
Arranged by Roy Webb
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Vastly underrated and hugely influential
27 February 1999 | by (Columbia, Missouri) – See all my reviews

I have this theory about the horror films of Val Lewton. It is my contention that these movies caused a sea change in the content and tone of the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. The reason I say this is simple, really: Lewton is the only filmmaker I have ever caught Hitchcock cribbing scenes from. He did it twice. Once from The Seventh Victim (dir. by Mark Robson), which I swear to god provides the first half of the Shower Scene from Psycho. The second from Cat People, which provided the pet store scene in The Birds. This second scene is almost a shot for shot swipe. Both of these steals are evidence that Hitch knew and admired the Lewton movies. More than that, though, there is a change in the subtext of Hitchcock's thrillers after the Lewton movies. The movies he made before them were cut from the Fritz Lang mold of political thrillers. After the Lewton movies, Hitch's movies became more psychosexual in nature. Vertigo, for instance, could easily fit into Lewton's output.

Cat People is the first of the Lewton movies and sets the tone for them. It pretends to be about a McGuffin (serbian were -panthers), but is actually about something else (in this case, frigidity and repressed lesbianism). This represents a huge change in the evolution of the horror movie. Cat People is the first horror movie to explore these themes as central concerns rather than as sub-rosa undercurrents. It also pioneered the techniques of film noir (which as a genre didn't really exist yet). Cat People is strikingly stylized and its effect is of stranding the viewer in the middle of a darkened room with some dreadful beast circling just outside his sphere of perception. This has a hell of an impact--particularly if you have the good fortune to see this in a theater. I'm not going to claim that Cat People is one of the best horror movies ever made (it does have flaws), but it is one of the four most influential horror movies ever made (along with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Psycho, and Night of the Living Dead). But unlike its brethren, its influence spreads corrosively through the entirety of cinema through both film noir and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. You would be hard pressed to find any film short of Citizen Kane or Rashomon that is nearly as influential.


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