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J. Lee Thompson
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For those who appreciate this type movie, it's a gem.
"Eye of the Cat" is an engaging thriller if you can overlook the stilted dialogue, the gaping holes in logic, some clumsy direction and just surrender to its cozy atmosphere. In scenic San Francisco, we meet several characters driven by greed, all of who will stop at nothing to get their share of a wealthy old lady's fortune. The action plays out in her hilltop home that's full of cats. If that sounds intriguing to you, then you're in for a treat. Among the main characters, Gayle Hunnicutt is the standout. Not just for her supermodel looks (big hair, short skirts) but for her expert portrayal of a cold, calculating opportunist. When she says to Michael Sarrazin "I'm not afraid of anything.", we tend to believe her. Hunnicutt should have become a bigger star; the right part just didn't come along, as it did for fellow Universal contract player Katherine Ross. Michael Sarrazin on the other hand, had a good shot at stardom, costarring with the likes of Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand in hit movies, but as this film demonstrates, his acting ability is sorely limited and he's devoid of any real charisma. Even the totally unknown Tim Henry, who plays his brother, radiates more appeal. It's good to see old pro Eleanor Parker hamming it up as the object of everyone's bad intentions. She gets her star turn in the stranded wheelchair scene. Screenwriter Joseph Stefano (who also wrote "Psycho") created a Hitchcockian premise here without being derivative of the master. There are two versions of this film, one slightly less violent for airing on television (with a lot fewer cats), and neither version is available on DVD. A real shame, for this is nice, intelligent fun.
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