7.2/10
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65 user 36 critic

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 »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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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:

Through it all...Bob Hope at his wise-cracking best, laughing his way through hilarious heroics...hoping a gag's as good as a gun to get ghosts on the go! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Wally Campbell: [Wiscracking to his stoic Indian guide] You seem like the jolly type, Clarence. D'yuh like jokes? You don't mind if I ramble on, do you? Keeps my mind off the malaria germs.
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Connections

Version of La voluntad del muerto (1930) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Classic
17 July 2001 | by bigvalbowskiSee all my reviews

The silents brought us a number of classic comedians who were skilled at making the audience laugh without uttering a word. With the advent of sound, some of these comedians found the transition hard and most still relied on their old silent routines for their jokes. Bob Hope was the first comedian who's mouth provided the punchline. The Cat and the Canary was his first leading part and yet it's not designed purely for his advantage, this is a great picture, both funny and exciting.

Bob Hope is the star. He's hilarious. He's sympathetic. He's also a coward, which isn't such an asset when you're staying in a house filled with escaped lunatics, suspicious servants, and numerous trapdoors. Hope plays a radio personality who involuntarily becomes the bodyguard to a woman, Joyce, who recently inherited a lot of money. The house is filled with other guests that are upset at having lost out on the inheritance. To make matters worse, if Joyce dies within a month, the money goes to whoever was the substitute inheritor and that person's name lies in an envelope safely hidden in a safe. As guests start dying, the tension increases, as does Hope's one-liner's. "I've got goosepumps. In fact, my goosebumps have got goosebumps."

Today, the plot seems like one from an episode of Scooby-Doo but it's still fun and surprisingly smart. The cast is small but solid and the murderer is never guessed until the end. A few red herrings are thrown in but when the guilty party is revealed, it does make sense, a necessity rarely used in Hollywood today.

As a vehicle for Hope it works a charm. As a movie in itself it should be recognised as a classic.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cat and the Canary 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
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