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Cat People (1942)

Not Rated | | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller | 25 December 1942 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Jacques Tourneur

Writer:

DeWitt Bodeen
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Simone Simon ... Irena Dubrovna Reed
Kent Smith ... Oliver Reed
Tom Conway ... Dr. Louis Judd
Jane Randolph ... Alice Moore
Jack Holt ... The Commodore
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Storyline

Serbian national Irena Dubrovna, a fashion sketch artist, has recently arrived in New York for work. The first person who she makes a personal connection with there is marine engineer Oliver Reed. The two fall in love and get married despite Irena's reservations, not about Oliver but about herself. She has always felt different than other people, but has never been sure why. She lives close to the zoo, and unlike many of her neighbors is comforted by the sounds of the big cats emanating from the zoo. And although many see it purely as an old wives' tale, she believes the story from her village of ancient residents being driven into witchcraft and evil doing, those who managed to survive by escaping into the mountains. After seeing her emotional pain, Oliver arranges for her to see a psychiatrist to understand why she believes what she does. In therapy, Dr. Judd, the psychiatrist, learns that she also believes, out of that villagers' tale, that she has descended from this evil - women ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

To Kiss Her Meant Death By Her Own Fangs and Claws! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Czech | Serbian

Release Date:

25 December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cat People See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$134,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Val Lewton reportedly sought Simone Simon for this film after seeing her performance in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). See more »

Goofs

When Irena is alarmed by the woman in the restaurant, she makes the sign of the cross left-to-right, as a Western Catholic would. However, as a Serb, she would more likely have made it right-to-left, as Orthodox and Eastern Catholics do. And if she was Orthodox, she would join three fingers (thumb, index and middle finger) to make the sign of the cross, not use the whole hand. See more »

Quotes

Irena Dubrovna: What should I tell my husband? Naturally, he's anxious to have some word.
Dr. Louis Judd: What does one tell a husband? One tells him nothing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[From the opening credits] "Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depression in the world consciousness."- "The Anatomy of Atavism"- Dr. Louis Judd See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Scariest Movie Moments: Part I: 100-81 (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Kolo
(uncredited)
Traditional Serbian dance
Arranged by Roy Webb
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Shadow and light.
28 June 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

After several movies made in his native France ,Jacques (Jack) Tourneur makes his first American works in the late thirties."Cat people" is the fifth one;the others are difficult to see and anyway this is this movie that is looked upon as his towering achievement(with the exception of "out of the past") .His female star,Simone Simon,whose English was perfect,enjoyed a career in both countries too:her best part is easily Jean Renoir's "la bête humaine" ,(human beast:it's funny when you know she's playing a woman-animal here).

"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.


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