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The Big Cat (1949)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | April 1949 (USA)
1933. A city boy arrives in his late mother's birthplace to discover the locals have been pestered by drought, old fights and a cougar. He turns out to be pivotal in all of these.


Phil Karlson


Morton Grant (screenplay), Dorothy Yost (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Lon McCallister ... Danny Turner
Peggy Ann Garner ... Doris Cooper
Preston Foster ... Tom Eggers
Forrest Tucker ... Gil Hawks
Skip Homeier ... Jim Hawks - Gil's Son
Sara Haden ... Mrs. Mary Cooper
Irving Bacon ... Matt Cooper - Mailman
Gene Reynolds ... Wid Hawks - Gil's Son


1933. A city boy arrives in his late mother's birthplace to discover the locals have been pestered by drought, old fights and a cougar. He turns out to be pivotal in all of these. Written by Homme A. Piest <piest@pobox.leidenuniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

wild animal | mountain | feud | See All (3) »


COUGAR CUNNING THAT DEFIED HUNTERS' GUNS! (newspaper print ad - all caps) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The cougar and dog actually live together with the handler. They appeared in The Red Rider (1934) and a few other movies. See more »


Gil Hawks: Tom, why don't you own up - that cat's too smart for you. Take a better shot than you're ever gonna be to collect that bounty
[he laughs mockingly]
Tom Eggers: You think so?
[he shoots Gil's hat from his hand]
Gil Hawks: You ever do that again, Tom Eggers and I'm gonna split your back open
Tom Eggers: If I ever do it again, I won't be aiming at your hat
See more »


Remade as Track of the Cat (1954) See more »


Polly Wolly Doodle
See more »

User Reviews

Almost a Sleeper
25 August 2017 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The movie's a quality outdoor production with engaging characters, solid script, and compelling scenery. So how did they get the cougar to go through his involved paces on apparent cue. The trainer or someone should get special credit since it's the cat's roaming that sparks the plot.

Spindly city lad McCallister arrives in Utah high country complete with suitcase and city suit. The question is what to make of him since the native woodsmen are a tough lot, from the men to the boys. But tough as they are, they can't seem to take out the predatory cat that's taking their stock. Turns out that McCallister's related to grouchy Foster, but how he'll manage to fit in with his city ways is the big question. Good thing that sweet little malt-shop Garner's there to flounce her dress at him. I like the way the thoughtful screenplay sets events in Depression era 1930's. Among other things, it explains why McCallister moves from ravaged city to high country unknown.

There's lots of outdoor action with no obvious sets. Note how noir director Karlson zeros in with close-ups to catch fleeting emotional moments, especially with Foster. Plus the chest butting between a blustering Foster and Tucker seems authentic as heck. But especially, there's that surprise about two-thirds way through that I sure wasn't expecting. I guess my only gripe amounts to a cougar without claws since Spike the dog is left unbloodied following his many tussles with the big cat. I guess the predator was understandably de-clawed before filming. Anyhow, I hope they gave the two critters a good payday for all their good work.

All in all, I can see the movie being produced as a boy's matinée. After all horse and dog movies were very popular during the latter '40's. Nonetheless, the film's quality is really much better than most. In my book, the result happily qualifies as a guys-of-all-ages creation that's as entertaining now as it was in '49.

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Release Date:

April 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Cat See more »

Filming Locations:

Kanab Canyon, Kanab, Utah, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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