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Cat People

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Released – December, 1942 

Directed By – Jacques Tourneur

Starring – Simone Simon (Irena Dubrovna Reed), Kent Smith (Oliver Reed), Tom Conway (Dr. Louis Judd), Jane Randolph (Alice Moore), Jack Holt (The Commodore).

Description – The exciting story of a woman who kills the thing she loves!

While at the zoo Serbian-born fashion designer Irena Dubrovna meets marine engineer Oliver Reed who she invites to her apartment for tea. During their conversation, Irena tells Oliver a strange story of her heritage that involves witchcraft and devil worship.

Irena believes she is a descendant of a cursed people with a strange connection to a panther. While growing up her father had died mysteriously and her mother was called “the cat person.”

In spite of these stories, Oliver asks Irena to marry him and she accepts. While celebrating their engagement at a Serbian restaurant, a woman closely resembling a cat approaches and asks Irena is she is “her sister.” This fuels Irena’s fear of the cat curse.

After the marriage, Irena tries to avoid sleeping with her husband as the curse is said to manifest itself by her turning into a panther should she be aroused to passion.

Oliver pursuades Irena to see a psychiatrist and begins to confide his marital problems with his beautiful assistant Alice Moore.

Adding another woman to an already cursed relationship can only lead to tragedy.

NOTABLE: In 1993 this film was added for preservation to the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Cat People cost RKO Radio Pictures just over $140,000 to make and earned over $4 million, reportedly saving the studio from financial ruin.

The film was such a box office hit that many critics who had originally posted bad reviews took the opportunity to view it again and issued positive follow-up.

The Wolf Man

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Released – December, 1941 

Directed By – George Waggner

Starring – Claude Rains (Sir John Talbot), Warren William (Dr. Lloyd), Ralph Bellamy (Colonel Montford), Patric Knowles (Frank Andrews), Bela Lugosi (Bela), Maria Ouspenskaya (Maleva), Evelyn Ankers ( Gwen Conliffe), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Lawrence Talbot/The Wolf Man).

Description – “Night monster with the blood lust of a savage beast!”

Returning home to Wales, in an effort to reconcile with his father Sir John Talbot, Lawrence Talbot meets and becomes romantically interested in local antique shop owner Gwen Conliffe.

He buys a silver-headed walking stick from her that is decorated with a wolf. She tells him that it is actually a werewolf, a man who changes into a wolf during certain times of the year.

Later that evening, Lawrence rescue’s Gwen’s friend Jenny from a wolf attack. During this encounter he is bitten by the wolf, who it turns out is actually a werewolf and the son of a gypsy fortuneteller.

The curse of the werewolf has now been passed to him.

NOTABLE: This movie features outstanding makeup and atmospheric music.

The makeup for Lon Chaney took six hours to apply and another three to remove.

The silver-headed cane used in the movie is the only remaining prop, and is in the personal collection of genre film archivist Bob Burns.

Personal Comment: This is classic horror genre at it’s best, ranking right up there with all-time classic horror films Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll & Mister Hyde.