The Black Cat
Tagline – Karloff and Lugosi together! Those stars of “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”.
Starring– Boris Karloff (Hjalmar Poelzig), Bela Lugosi (Dr. Vitus Werdegast), David Manners (Peter Alison), Julie Bishop (Joan Alison).
Released – May, 1934
Directed By – Edgar G. Ulmer
Produced By – Universal Pictures
Distributed By – Universal Pictures
Description– Peter and Joan Alison are honeymooning in Hungary when a train reservation mix-up causes them to share a compartment with cat-phobic Dr. Vitus Werdegast.
The Alison’s learn that Dr. Werdegast is on his way to visit old friend Hjalmar Poelzig, an Austrian architect. Eighteen years ago, Dr. Werdegast left his wife to go to war and has spent the last fifteen of those years in a prison camp.
Arriving at their destination, the three board a hotel bound bus that crashes due to a storm, causing an injury to Joan. Dr. Werdegast suggests they go on to the home of Hjalmar Poelzig where he can treat Joan for her injuries.
Poelzig’s home is built over the ruins of Fort Marmorus. This installation was commanded by Poelzig during the war.
While in Poelzig’s home the newlyweds learn that Dr. Werdegast’s visit to an “old friend” will not be so friendly after all. The doctor accuses Poelzig of betraying his countrymen during the war resulting in the deaths of thousands of Hungarians.
Werdegast also accuses Poelzig of stealing his wife while he was in prison and learns that his friend has plans to sacrifice Joan in a satanic ritual.
NOTABLE: The Black Cat was the first of eight motion pictures to pair horror film legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and proved to be the biggest box office success of the year for Universal Pictures.
Some countiries required cuts to some of the films more gruesome scenes, while Italy, Finland, and Austria banned the film altogether.
The Black Cat was the first Universal Pictures production to introduce the major characters with actual film clips during the opening credits.