25 user 4 critic

The Case of the Black Cat (1936)

Approved | | Crime, Mystery, Drama | 31 October 1936 (USA)
An bedridden eccentric millionaire, anticipating his own murder, hires Mason to help him rewrite his will, and the lawyer ends up defending the caretaker's cat.


William C. McGann (as William McGann), Alan Crosland (uncredited)


Erle Stanley Gardner (story), F. Hugh Herbert (screen play)


Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A con man who stages phony "lucky legs" beauty contests and leaves town with the money is found with a surgical knife in his heart by Mason.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Warren William, Genevieve Tobin, Patricia Ellis
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Perry marries Della but a beautiful woman interrupts their honeymoon night and demands Perry take her case at gunpoint.

Director: William Clemens
Stars: Warren William, Claire Dodd, Wini Shaw
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

An improbable stuttering bishop from Australia asks for Perry's help in proving the identity of the legitimate heir to a millionaire.

Director: William Clemens
Stars: Donald Woods, Ann Dvorak, Anne Nagel
Crime | Mystery | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An agitated and desperate man spares no expense in insisting that Mason represent him against a neighbor's howling dog and act as executor of his will.

Director: Alan Crosland
Stars: Warren William, Mary Astor, Allen Jenkins
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Perry interrupts his vacation plans when an ex-girlfriend, now newly married, asks him to help her with murder and bigamy charges.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Warren William, Margaret Lindsay, Donald Woods
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A veteran homicide detective who has witnessed his socialite girlfriend kill her husband sees his inexperienced brother assigned to the case.

Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a crooked businessman is fatally shot, a hotshot New York newspaper reporter specializing in murder stories narrows in on the dead man's associate.

Director: Tim Whelan
Stars: Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Virginia Bruce
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Twenty years after 3 murders occur in a castle's "blue room", three men who each want to marry a beautiful girl decide to spend a night in the room to prove their bravery to her.

Director: Kurt Neumann
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An ex-con who wants to go straight has difficulties trying to reintegrate into society while on parole.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: George Raft, Jane Bryan, William Holden
Certificate: Passed Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A blind detective and his seeing-eye dog investigate a murder and discover a Nazi plot.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Edward Arnold, Ann Harding, Donna Reed
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A pretty young music teacher is bludgeoned to death in Hildegarde's school, where she's reunited with Oscar, but the autopsy report says she was dying from poison too.

Director: George Archainbaud
Stars: Edna May Oliver, James Gleason, Bruce Cabot
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A well-planned robbery goes awry, with tough cop Cordell in pursuit.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, William Talman


Complete credited cast:
Ricardo Cortez ... Perry Mason
June Travis ... Della Street
Jane Bryan ... Wilma Laxter
Craig Reynolds ... Frank Oafley
Carlyle Moore Jr. ... Douglas Keene
Bill Elliott ... Sam Laxter (as Gordon Elliott)
Nedda Harrigan ... Nurse Louise DeVoe
Garry Owen Garry Owen ... Paul Drake
Harry Davenport ... Peter Laxter
George Rosener ... Charles Ashton
Gordon Hart Gordon Hart ... Dr. Jacobs
Clarence Wilson Clarence Wilson ... Mr. Shuster
Guy Usher Guy Usher ... District Attorney Hamilton Burger
Lottie Williams Lottie Williams ... Mrs. Pixley
Harry Hayden ... Reverend Stillwell


Lawyer Perry Mason is summoned to the Laxter mansion in the dead of night to write granddaughter Wilma out of invalid Peter Laxter's will, to keep her from marrying suspected fortune hunter Doug. Peter dies in a mysterious fire and Laxter's two grandsons, Sam Laxter and Frank Oafley, inherit his estate on the condition old caretaker Ashton and his cat Clinker are kept on. When cat-hating Sam threatens Clinker, Perry steps in and learns Laxter's death was suspicious and the family fortune and diamonds are missing. Written by Sister Grimm <srgrimm@teleport.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Mystery | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 October 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Case of the Caretaker's Cat See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Fifth of six "Perry Mason" films released by Warner Bros. from 1934 to 1937, and the first without Warren William in the lead role. See more »


The so-called "black" cat of the title is, in fact, a grey, brown, and white calico, hence the original title of the novel, "The Case of the Caretaker's Cat" would have been more appropriate, and more logical. See more »


Della Street: You and your cats! You'll probably end up in jail!
Perry Mason: A lot of interesting people in jail, Della.
See more »


Followed by Perry Mason (1957) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Ricardo Cortez has a go at Perry Mason
28 November 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

It should come as no surprise that Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason series, hated the way his hero was portrayed in the movies. Consider this: When he saw Raymond Burr walk in to audition for the part of Hamilton Burger, he told the casting people, "That's Perry Mason." One can just imagine, then, how fond he was of Warren William, Donald Woods and Ricardo Cortez.

It's not so much the actors, of course, as the emphasis of the films -Warren William, whom I like a lot more than one of the posters on this site, always had a little too much fun, and his character was loosely modeled on Nick in "The Thin Man." Woods was very lawyer-like but lacked spark; Cortez had spark but was more on the smooth, streetwise side than the actual Perry of the books, who was a very intense young man, given to big speeches.

In this film, Perry is asked to act as attorney for a caretaker's cat named Clicker who isn't black. That's because the title was decided upon after the film was made. The actual Gardner story is "The Case of the Caretaker's Cat," but black cats were hot in movie titles in the '30s. Peter Laxter's will states that the caretaker has his job for life, but one of the heirs wants the cat gone and is threatening to poison it. Laxter has died in a fire, but Perry soon surmises that he was murdered first and has the body exhumed. He also learns that Laxter cashed out a million dollars worth of stock and that a famous set of diamonds are missing. Two more murders follow. Clicker unknowingly provides an important clue to whodunit. The last few minutes of the film are done in flashback so that we can see how Perry put it all together.

Not bad, but none of these men will ever be Perry Mason after Burr did the role so long on television. It's best to just look at these films as mystery stories and ignore the old, unattractive Paul Drake and the pronunciation of Hamilton Burger as Hamilton Berjer (in the Woods version). And that's the way Erle Stanley Gardner would have wanted it.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 25 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Check Out What's Playing on IMDb Freedive

See what movies and TV series you can watch for free today, and visit IMDb Freedive for even more. Select any poster below to play the movie!

Find more things to watch

Recently Viewed