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This mostly unrelated sequel to Cat People (1942) has Amy, the young daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed. Amy is a very imaginative child who has trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, and has no friends her own age as a result. She makes an imaginary friend though, her father's dead first wife Irena. At about the same time, she befriends Julia Farren, an aging reclusive actress who is alienated from her own daughter Barbara. Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
Irena is Serbian in origin (as shown on the precursor 'Cat People') yet sings a traditional French Christmas carol 'Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant' to Amy. See more »
The photograph Amy finds in the drawer is seen in close-up to be a portrait of Irena. In long shots, however, it looks more like a wedding picture with one person in white and another in black standing side-by-side. See more »
This is the only movie I have ever seen that deals honestly with the experience of childhood. Every other movie shows us a grown-up view, Curse of the Cat People lets us see directly through a child's eyes and think exactly what she is thinking; her experience becomes ours. Ann Carter is a brilliant actress. (I lent the tape to a kid that age and she watched it for weeks.) It is timeless, just as childhood is; nothing has changed over 60 years.
Repeated viewing has made me see that it IS related to Cat People in an important way: it shows that Irena is genuinely the kind and loving person she had always wanted to be after she had killed herself believing herself to be a vicious evil monster. She befriends Amy at a time when the girl feels isolated, and later intervenes to save her life; but salvation cuts both ways, as this relationship gives Irena a real pleasure in life I mean afterlife or whatever it is. Amy saves Irena quite as much as vice-versa.And you get the impression that Amy is spiritually Irena's daughter, whatever the genetics might be. Simone Simon is so gorgeous, you wonder why she didn't become a major star and go in the history books.
Even the stupid title begins to make some sense- Alice got her husband through duplicity, and he always treated Irena like an unthinking clod. The result is that Oliver and Alice have a limited relationship without true intimacy, and this leaves them unable to understand and sympathize with their sensitive daughter. Perhaps this is the real "curse of the cat people".
Oliver Reed is just as dumb as a father as he was as a husband in Cat People; but the story depends on his insensitivity; it wouldn't work any other way. 'Sir Lancelot' plays the black servant with lively intelligence, an unusually dignified portrayal of black people by 1940's standards. Val Lewton's sympathies were always on the side of children, ethnic minorities, artists and such.
And he could pack so much into a 60 minute movie! The guy was a genius.
N.B. Lewton chose a rookie to direct this one: Robert Wise. This ghost-story is the first movie he ever made, and it is quite as good as Sound of Music, Star Trek 1 or his other pictures. And you can see where he learned the ideas that would go into The Haunting.
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