Saturday, October 30, 2010

154. Cat People (1942)

Running Time: 73 minutes
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur
Written By: DeWitt Bodeen
Main Cast: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph


Well Halloween is tomorrow, so I figured I'd better kick off the festivities, if I hope to get in all the movies that I have planned. When looking to the forties for a horror film, I decided upon one of the "classic" Jacques Tourneur films...I guess I picked the wrong one. "Cat People" did absolutely nothing for me and was probably the worst film I've seen from the book since "The Black Cat" back in January.

Irena Dubrovna (Simon) is spotted by Oliver Reed (Smith) at the zoo, as she is sketching a black panther. They strike up a conversation and wind up back at her place for tea. While chit chatting over tea, Irena tells Oliver of her ancestors who were forced to turn to evil and witchcraft when they were forced to be slaves by the Mameluks. When King John of Serbia drove the Mameluks out, he had the evil villagers killed, however the most wicked of the bunch escaped into the mountains. Irena believe that she is a descendant of these extra wicked mountain dwellers and that if drove to passion, she fears she will turn into a cat. The relationship between Irena and Oliver takes about ten minutes of film time to end up in marriage, however there marriage isn't all roses. Irena still refuses to kiss her new husband, for fear that she will turn into a cat and kill him. The relationship is rocky and Oliver turns to a colleague at work, Alice (Randolph), who tries to console him and in the midst of said consoling, they fall in love with each other. Oliver tries one last ditch effort to help Irena, by sending her to see a psychiatrist, a psychiatrist that she only visits once. Seemingly Irena becomes more aggressive throughout the film, stalking Alice in the movies ONLY attention grabbing scene, as Alice walks down the sidewalk to catch a bus, the clickity-clack of her high heels snapping against the concrete. The climax is very anti-climatic and I won't spoil anything here, for non-seers of this terrible movie.

I don't know if I picked the wrong Tourneur film, or if they're all on par with this one. I just didn't like this movie. My theory is this: In the spirit of Halloween any movie that is classified as horror or has anything to do with something supernatural, can be enjoyed. I guess this one fit in with my Halloween weekend viewing plans, but it was just not enjoyable and flat out not good, and even the spirit of Halloween couldn't change that fact. I found Simone Simon to be very annoying as Irena and Kent Smith was a total pushover as Oliver Reed. I mean, this guy didn't kiss his wife, although they were married, and he was okay with it. Do you think Cary Grant or Garey Cooper would stand for that crap? See, this film has me saying good things about Cary Grant, now you know I didn't like it!

The whole plot was just silly and hinged on some silly made up fairy tale that means nothing to me. I didn't care about any of the characters (except for maybe Alice, a little) and wasn't interested in anything that was going on. Outside of that one scene that I mentioned in the plot synopsis above and maybe the old, female pet store owner (who I thought was charming and hilarious) this movie was a complete and utter failure, in my opinion. I think we'll end it there.

RATING: 2/10 Yeah I'm going that low and haven't been that low in a long time. I hope when I get around to watching "I Walked with A Zombie" and "The Seventh Victim", that they're better.


October 30, 2010 1:57pm


  1. Oh! Ouch... Ouch, ouch ouch..
    I fear the nearest we come to a serious falling out on this one I'm afraid :(
    I love this film. So full of mood, atmosphere, implied threat. The two 'set piece' bits.. the pool and the bus, are genuinly scary I think. Especialy the bus.
    The only critcal comment I will admit to on 'Cat people', is the studio interference to add in the actual panther, and turn it from a pyschological thriller into.. well, a werecat horror flick. I am desperate to get hold of 'I walk with a Zombie', and 'Seventh victim', which I cannot get in the UK.
    Oh dear, so sorry you didn't enjoy this film Movie man, and please do not look ill on me if I claim this as one of my all time faves, and beg to claim a minimum of 9.5, the missing .5 only for the enforced added panther.
    Oh dera, I will now go and deliberatly look for a film we can agree on :)

  2. Ray, I'm sorry we didn't agree here and I would never think less of you for liking something that I didn't. In fact, I'm always glad when someone else can find good things about a movie where I could barely find any. I guess we'll agree to disagree and I really hope there is no serious falling out between us.

  3. Sorry.. I was not being serious when I suggested a serious falling out :) - It was meant in a humerous way (so difficult to convey in written text).
    I would love it if another commentator would come to my aid on this one... just to make me feel so not alone.
    Seriously, once I could get a R1 player, i paid good money for the Val Lewton box set - not only to get all the others, but so I could get all the extras and another copy (better than my 'of the TV' one) of this fantastic film.
    Please.. anyone else out there seen, and liked this?? Please?
    Otherwise.. swords ready for when you get to 'I walked with a Zombie.. (just kidding..)

  4. All is good Ray. Actually, I don't have my scheduled list in front of me, but I'm pretty sure I have the other two Lewton films scheduled for THIS 100. So I'll be watching "I Walked with a Zombie" and "The Seventh Victim" fairly soon. Maybe my tastes have been cultivated enough to appreciate them more than I did "Cat People".


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