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The Cat and the Canary (1927)

Passed | | Comedy, Horror, Mystery | 9 September 1927 (USA)
Relatives of an eccentric millionaire gather in his spooky mansion on the 20th anniversary of his death for the reading of his will.


Paul Leni


John Willard (from the stage play by), Robert F. Hill (adaptation) | 4 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Laura La Plante ... Annabelle West
Creighton Hale ... Paul Jones
Forrest Stanley ... Charles Wilder
Tully Marshall ... Roger Crosby
Gertrude Astor ... Cecily
Flora Finch ... Susan
Arthur Edmund Carewe ... Harry (as Arthur Edmund Carew)
Martha Mattox ... Mammy Pleasant
George Siegmann ... The Guard
Lucien Littlefield ... Ira Lazar


Rich old Cyrus West's relatives are waiting for him to die so they can inherit. But he stipulates that his will be read 20 years after his death. On the appointed day his expectant heirs arrive at his brooding mansion. The will is read and it turns out that Annabelle West, the only heir with his name left, inherits, if she is deemed sane. If she isn't, the money and some diamonds go to someone else, whose name is in a sealed envelope. Before he can reveal the identity of her successor to Annabelle, Mr. Crosby, the lawyer, disappears. The first in a series of mysterious events, some of which point to Annabelle in fact being unstable. Written by Ron Kerrigan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The play that startled the world! (Title lobby card). See more »


Comedy | Horror | Mystery


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was reputed to have been highly influential to James Whale, when he made "The Old Dark House." See more »


As Tully Marshall's dead body falls to the floor, the actor can be clearly seen extending his hands to break the fall. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: On a lonely pine-clad hill overlooking the Hudson, stood the grotesque mansion of an eccentric millionaire...
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Alternate Versions

Kino International distributed a video with the original 1927 musical setting compiled by James Bradford and adapted and performed by Eric Beheim and "The Cyrus West Players." It was produced by David Shepard using film materials from the David Bradley collection, and copyrighted in 1997 by Film Preservation Associates. The running time was 82 minutes. See more »


References The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) See more »


Symphonie no. 3 avec orgue
  • 1st movement

Written by Camille Saint-Saëns
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User Reviews

Creaky but somewhat fun silent film
27 June 2006 | by preppy-3See all my reviews

An old man (Cyrus West) dies accusing his relatives of hovering over him--like cats over a canary. 20 years after his death his relatives get together as his will is read in his creepy mansion on a dark and windy night at midnight (of course). One person gets all the money and estate--unless they are proved insane. And how about the escaped lunatic from the nearby asylum...?

This is probably one of the first (if not THE first) movie about the reading of the will, a dark and (purportedly) haunted house and people being murdered. Plotwise it's nothing new and contains some terribly unfunny "comedy". Still it's worth catching.

It's very well directed by Paul Leni (the juxtaposing of images was clever) and he has fun with the title cards (see how "HELP!" is done). The acting is a little bit overdone (but that's common in silent films) and star Laura La Plante is pretty good. I saw the restored print (which is still in pretty bad shape) and it has an excellent music score that helps too.

So, worth catching. No great shakes though.

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None | English

Release Date:

9 September 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La volonté du mort See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


(DVD) (2004 restoration) |

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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