An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.
"Cat people" belongs to the fantasy and horror genre,but it does not really follow its rules.We're close to psychological drama.(Almost) deprived of "special effects" -which is a blessing-Tourneur works with his camera the way a painter does with shadow and light to create strange dreamy atmospheres The pièces de résistance are the scene in the swimming -pool that creates a feeling of terror without using the tricks of the trade,and the scene when Oliver and Alice are in the flat,hearing roaring.
The movie was ahead of its time in several respects:the Freudian allusions would later be developed by Fritz Lang("secret beyond the door",1945) and of course Hitchcock ("Spellbound",same year).You're going to say that these two great directors give their movies a "realistic" treatment and Jack Tourneur does not.Actually,he takes a divergent way:he introduces ambiguity,this ambiguity dear to Roman Polanski .After all,it could be a mere ,so to speak, neurosis.Few of the sequences actually deal with the supernatural :most of the time,it's a couple then a triangle:the "fantastic" elements could be real :the disturbing woman,who calls Irene "my sister",the scenes with the panther at the zoo,and the pool sequence can be explained by Irène's jealousy.
Although,it's only understood ,it's obvious that the marriage Irène/Oliver has not been consummated,because of a not clearly defined reason-how can a man as pragmatist as Oliver believe in such a far-fetched curse?Isn't it the fear of woman,of the original sin?.This topic will be brilliantly taken on by Christian de Challonges "l'alliance" (1970).Note also how Richard Donner aped the pet shops scene for "the omen" (1976).
It seems that Alice's character is an easy way out,and the weak part of the movie because she's essentially here to comfort the audience,to show the way to "straight" life and to secure a happy end.
The remake (1982) destroys all ambiguity,keeps nothing from the original story but the proper nouns ,and fills its quota of nudity and blood.Stick to the Tourneur version.
- Jun 28, 2002