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The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Approved | | Comedy, Horror, Mystery | 10 November 1939 (USA)
When an eccentric family meets in their uncle's remote, decaying mansion on the tenth anniversary of his death for the reading of his will, murder and madness follow.

Director:

Elliott Nugent

Writers:

Walter DeLeon (screenplay), Lynn Starling (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Bob Hope ... Wally Campbell
Paulette Goddard ... Joyce Norman
John Beal ... Fred Blythe
Douglass Montgomery ... Charlie Wilder
Gale Sondergaard ... Miss Lu
Elizabeth Patterson ... Aunt Susan
Nydia Westman ... Cicily
George Zucco ... Lawyer Crosby
John Wray ... Hendricks
George Regas ... Indian Guide
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Storyline

Ten years have passed since the death of millionaire, Cyrus Norman. Cosby, Cyrus' attorney, has gathered Cyrus' 6 remaining relatives to his New Orleans' mansion for Cyrus' "reading of the will". To the others disappointment, Joyce is the sole heir, but, due to a streak of insanity running in the family, a second will has been made in case Joyce falls victim to it. This puts Joyce in danger. Suddenly, Miss Lu, Cyrus' maid, appears and warns them that the spirits have told her that one of them will die that night. Following this, Hendrick, a prison guard, warns them that, "The Cat", a homicidal maniac has escaped. This sets up Cyrus' relatives with a night filled with murders, mysteries and intrigue. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who is THE CAT? His movements soundless, his approach unnoticeable, his vengeance swift! Who will feel his horrible, hairy grasp next? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gato y el canario See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Many people believe that the lawyer's name (Crosby) is an in-joke reference to the Bob Hope(I)/Bing Crosby pairing. In fact it's a coincidence; this was the character's name in the stage play as well as the two previous film versions. Moreover, Hope and Crosby did not make a film together until Road to Singapore (1940) the following year. See more »

Goofs

When the heirs heading to the house in a boat point out a swimming alligator, protective tape is visibly wrapped around its mouth.. See more »

Quotes

Cicily: Don't big empty houses scare you?
Wally Campbell: Not me, I used to be in vaudeville.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Svengoolie: The Cat and the Canary (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Some Fun!"
13 August 2006 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

This has always been one of my top10 favourite films, since I first saw it in 1972, at least 14 times since. Bob Hope was still a little green at this stage, but you can almost see (and hear) him coming of age in CATC, his comic delivery technique and timing noticeably improved by the end. The spooky atmosphere generated onto the b&w nitrate stock by the Paramount cast and crew was palpable, compare it - if you can stomach it - to the 1979 remake!

8 people are summoned to a will-reading at a rather eerie old house; the one that wins the fortune seems to be going insane as one of her relatives sweetly puts it, whilst another just says she's going out of her mind. There's only 2 nice people here, Hope and Goddard, the rest are more or less on the make. She's the visual jewel in here - as Hope says, "Terrific". The scene with Goddard and the Cat in the library is my all-time Spooky Moment on Film - nowadays all the "artists" involved in the making of "horror" films don't trouble about niceties like Spookiness, but just get on with the Gore. That of course is the problem for most people coming to this, they've probably inured themselves over the years to see disgusting and vile-ent things - so much so that they would laugh at the most savage scene in this where someone gets knifed in the back. The 1927 Laura LaPlante version is good and nicely atmospheric too, but it's difficult comparing chalk and cheese to silent and talking pictures - they're both great comedy films on their own merits.

A wonderful piece of art, topped the next year with an even better follow up, Ghost Breakers.


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