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The Black Cat (1934)

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director:

Edgar G. Ulmer

Writers:

Edgar Allan Poe (suggested by a story by), Peter Ruric (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Hjalmar Poelzig (as Karloff)
Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Vitus Werdegast
David Manners ... Peter Alison
Julie Bishop ... Joan Alison (as Jacqueline Wells)
Egon Brecher Egon Brecher ... The Majordomo
Harry Cording ... Thamal
Lucille Lund ... Karen
Henry Armetta ... The Sergeant
Albert Conti Albert Conti ... The Lieutenant
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Storyline

Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life. Written by Sister Grimm <srgrimm@teleport.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most imaginative picture yet! (Newspaper ad cut). See more »


Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin | Hungarian

Release Date:

7 May 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Vanishing Body See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$95,745 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$236,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The satanic prayer Poelzig chants during the black mass scene consists of random phrases in Latin, the most recognizable being "cum grano salis" (with a grain of salt). The complete chant, is as follows:

Latin Phrases: Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Humanum est errare. Lupis pilum mutat, non mentem. Magna est veritas et praevalebit. Acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta. Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem. Amissum quod nescitur non amittitur. Brutum fulmen. Cum grano salis. Fortis cadere cedere non potest. Fructu, non foliis arborem aestima. Insanus omnes furere credit ceteros. Quem paenitet peccasse paene est innocens.

English translation: With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. To err is human. The wolf may change his skin, but not his nature. Truth is mighty, and will prevail. External actions show internal secrets. Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even. The loss that is not known is no loss at all. Heavy thunder. With a grain of salt. A brave man may fall, but he cannot yield. By fruit, not by leaves, judge a tree. Every madman thinks everybody mad. Who repents from sinning is almost innocent. See more »

Goofs

When Werdegast and Poelzig are fighting near the end of the film, Poelzig is on top of Werdegast, choking him. Werdegast then turns the tables and ends up on top of Poelzig. After Thamal (Werdegast's servant) enters the room, Poelzig is suddenly on top of Werdegast, and is choking him again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
The Lieutenant: [looking over Joan's passport] Mr. and Mrs. Alison, Car 96, Compartment F. Orient Express, Budapest, Visegrad.
See more »

Connections

Version of Two Evil Eyes (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565)
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Karloff and Lugosi go head to head

Made in 1934 by the then 30 year old Director Edgar Ulmer and with the stunning set design by Charles D. Hall the film paired Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for the first time together on the screen. This was to cement the two icons together in a screen partnership that would last for several years.

Set in the modern house of Hjalmar Poelzig (no creepy old castle's here) whose home is one of the most stunning modern houses of our time this is a dark story about Devil worship. Poelzig has a room set aside for his evil black masses and has a penchant for the ladies, but only when they are being put to the devil's business. Into this walks a young couple who due to circumstances out of their control end up having to stay the night at his home. They arrive with Dr.Verdegast (Lugosi) who is returning after a absence of many years to settle some unfinished business with his old friend. This is the set up for an explosive encounter between the two into which the young honeymooning couple are thrown.

Truly a masterpiece it should be viewed over and over again.

Watch out for the finale Black Mass in which Karloff spout's authentic sounding incantation's to raise the Devil, he says Latin phrases "Cave Canium" (Beware of the Dog), "In Vito Veritas" (In Wine there if truth) and Cum Grano Salis (with a grain of salt). I could'nt put it better myself.


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