The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)
"Il gatto a nove code" (original title)

GP  |   |  Mystery, Thriller  |  21 May 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 6,217 users  
Reviews: 71 user | 84 critic

A newspaper reporter and a retired, blind journalist try to solve a series of killings connected to a pharmaceutical company's experimental, top-secret research projects and in so doing, both become targets of the killer.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine Spaak ...
Anna Terzi
Police Supt. Spini
Horst Frank ...
Dr. Braun
Rada Rassimov ...
Bianca Merusi
Aldo Reggiani ...
Dr. Casoni
Carlo Alighiero ...
Dr. Calabresi
Vittorio Congia ...
Righetto (cameraman)
Ugo Fangareggi ...
Gigi the Loser
Tom Felleghy ...
Dr. Esson
Emilio Marchesini ...
Dr. Mombelli
Fulvio Mingozzi ...
Spimi's man
Corrado Olmi ...
Pino Patti ...


Franco Arno is a blind man that lives with his young niece and makes a living writing crossword puzzles. One night, while walking on the street, he overhears a weird conversation between two man sitting in a car parked in front of a medical institute where genetic experiments are performed. The same night someone breaks in the institute and knocks out a guard. Arno decides to investigate with the help of reporter Carlo Giordani. Written by Giancarlo Cairella <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Caught between the truth and a murderer's hand! See more »


Mystery | Thriller


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

21 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cat o' Nine Tails  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(cut) | (Super 8-version in 2 parts) | (Limited Uncut Integral-Version)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although it's one of his most successful films, this is the least favorite of Dario Argento among his pictures. See more »


Early in the graveyard scene, as they are walking, the position of the actors changes between shots. In the side angle Malden has his left arm raised with his hand on Franciscus' right shoulder, in the angle showing them from the front, Malden has his arm down and Franciscus is gripping his shoulder. See more »


Franco Arno: Put the lid back on the coffin.
See more »


Edited into Tales of the Cat (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Underrated Argento!
8 July 2001 | by (Seattle, USA) – See all my reviews

I personally love this movie and I'm a shameless admirer of Dario Argento, so take my comments as worth a grain of salt. Sure, "Cat O' Nine Tails" (1971) is not an Argento "masterpiece" (depending what one's criteria are) and is certainly not a perfect film, but the "good stuff" in this baby just outweighs whatever it's faults may be, as far as I'm concerned. It's beautifully photographed (as usual) and makes lovely use of the widescreen filmscape, it has a great Ennio Morricone musical score and it really displays the first true signs of Argento's unique "ultra-style" and technique for which he is now so beloved. There are some gorgeous set pieces here and some truly striking sequences (the cemetery scene and the car chase are my two particular favorites). The film is filled with typically Argento-esque odd, eccentric characters and bit players and the atmosphere created is one of true unease and hidden perversion. Karl Malden is terribly sweet and thoroughly convincing as the blind man Arno and James Franciscus is handsome and cool (almost too cool) as the reporter with whom he collaborates. I think Catherine Spaak makes a great leading lady with her aloof beauty and non-acting presence. She, to me, represents the kind of female character that Hitchcock was so good at bringing out of his actresses; she is a virtual blank slate upon which the director (in this case Argento) projects what he wants. This being Argento's second film as director, it's perhaps true that he does not achieve the delirious highs and awe inspiring beauty of some of his later films. But on the flip side, "Cat O' Nine Tails" is exceedingly better than so many other 'giallo' films of that era or any era. Definitely a must for any Argento fan and, I think, a good recommendation for anyone looking for a unusual Euro-Horror-Thriller.

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