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Cat People (1942) Poster

(1942)

Trivia

Several actors in studio records and casting call lists did not appear in the movie. These were (with their character names) George Ford (Whistling cop), Leda Nicova (Patient), and Bud Geary (Mounted policeman).
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The horror movie technique of slowly building tension to a jarring shock which turns out to be something completely harmless and benign became known as a "Lewton bus" after a famous scene in this movie created by producer Val Lewton.
Because of the incredibly tight budget, sets from Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) were re-used.
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.
Filmed in 18 days.
The suits at RKO were reportedly dubious about the finished film. It was too subtle and possibly not overt enough to compete with Universal's brand of horror.
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,
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.
The opening credits end with a quote attributed to "Dr. Louis Judd," which is the name of the psychiatrist character in the movie.
Val Lewton reportedly sought Simone Simon for this film after seeing her performance in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941).
Supervisor Lou L. Ostrow was so dissatisfied with the style of the movie he wanted to replace director Jacques Tourneur after four days of filming. Producer Val Lewton got studio head Charles Koerner to reinstate Tourneur, and when Ostrow insisted on the panther appearing in the drafting room sequence, Lewton had Tourneur use low lighting putting the panther in the shadows.
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.
The black leopard Dynamite appeared in another film by the same producers/directors: The Leopard Man (1943).
Val Lewton came very close to being fired after only three days of shooting. Lou L. Ostrow, the head of RKO's B-unit, had looked at the first three days of rushes and was not happy with what he saw. Ostrow wanted Lewton out, but was ultimately overruled by RKO chief Charles Koerner who was happy with Lewton's work and wanted him to continue.
Near the end of filming, two units were shooting around the clock to speed completion of the film. During the night, one unit would film the animals for the Central Park sequence, while during the day, the other unit would be working with the actors.
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The Central Park Zoo set had previously been used in numerous RKO productions, including several Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers musicals.
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Jennifer Jones was considered for the role of Alice.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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Original trade reviews appeared Friday the 13 November 1942.
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A July 1942 item places Carl Brisson in the cast, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed.
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"Cat People"(1942) is the first film Molina narrates for Valentin in "Kiss of the Spider Woman".
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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