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A family saga: In a stunning mountain valley ranch setting near Aspen, complex and dangerous family dynamics play out against the backdrop of the first big snowstorm of winter and an enormous panther with seemingly mythical qualities which is killing cattle. An arrogant, pitiless son (Robert Mitchum) and a rigid pharisaic mother side against a moral eldest son and and a defeated alcoholic father while the youngest son tries to lay low, hoping against hope to persuade his family to allow him to marry a girl he has brought to visit. The girl however draws venomous condemnation and the two elder brothers set out in the midst of a violent snowstorm on a dangerous mission to kill the deadly panther. Written by
Dysfunctional family saga could have been a stronger film...
A disturbingly dysfunctional family is at the heart of TRACK OF THE CAT, which tries to impose symbolic significance on the threat of the creature that is being stalked by the two oldest brothers. But the tale, filmed in monotonous B&W style with only highlights of real color allowed, is somber, tedious and talky.
The performances are standard except for Mitchum who does a believable job as the loutish oldest brother. TERESA WRIGHT, DIANA LYNN and TAB HUNTER do fairly standard work, under William A. Wellman's slow-paced direction.
It's a stark and brooding story of an isolated farm family living in a remote area and haunted by the symbolic "cat" of the title. Photographed in muted WarnerColor with effective background music by Roy Webb, its somber wintry atmosphere is well captured in the opening scene but becomes tedious before the story reaches a midway point because a real connection with the troubled characters is never really made.
All the cast members have done better work elsewhere. It's hard to believe how matronly and severe TERESA WRIGHT became for this role, only a few years beyond her delicate work as a leading lady in many films of the '40s. WILLIAM HOPPER is effective as Mitchum's outspoken brother.
All the interiors are filmed in a style that seems more like a filmed play than a film. BEULAH BONDI as the embittered mother manages to give some gravitas to the story. ROBERT MITCHUM gives his usual sturdy and colorful performance as the oldest son hellbent on tracking a killer cat. TAB HUNTER as the weakest younger brother has less to work with.
A fairly interesting, harsh, character-driven tale that should have been much more effective with better dialog and family dynamics.
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