Cat People

Cat People

DVD - 2016
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A Serbian immigrant living in Manhattan believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves will turn her into a feline predator.
Publisher: [New York, New York] : The Criterion Collection, [2016]
Edition: Two-disc DVD special edition.
ISBN: 9781681432021
1681432021
Branch Call Number: DVD CAT PEO
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (73 min.) : DVD video, sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
DVD video,4 3/4 in.,rda
digital,optical,stereo,Dolby Digital monaural,rda
widescreen @ fullscreen
NTSC,rda
video file,DVD video,region 1,rda

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Stars Simone Simon, cast because she had a feline shaped face. Also stars Tom Conway, older brother of George Sanders. As the lead female character, Ms. Simon fears intimacy with her husband, even on the wedding night. It seems, she believes she will turn into a panther and eat him, after coitus. There is a beautiful black leopard kept in a cage for most of the film, only to be released to be run over, at the end. The cat's 'real name' was Dynamite. By the way, there is no such animal as a ' black panther.' it is a color variant of your standard leopard. this is a VAL LEWTON picture, made by RKO in order to compensate for the losses they took from making CITIZEN CANE. CAT PEOPLE was released in New York City exactly one year after Pearl Harbor, and did booming business. By today's standards, it is not scary. But the possibly lesbian subtext was interesting to people of that time. Val Lewton did not like cats. Neither did Elisabeth Russell, who plays here, the Catwoman. The film, which did great business, ends with a quotation from the poetry of John Donne. Pretentious? Directed by Jacques Tourneur, his debut as a director.

a
andreajesse
Feb 10, 2018

Irena is a mysterious Serbian immigrant. She catches the eye of Oliver while sketching black panthers at the zoo. She's petite and shy - just the kind of woman a man might want to look after, but there's more to her than meets the eye. This film was made in 1942 and I would say that it was ahead of its time in its stylishness. Some scenes like the one at the swimming pool and the dream sequence are well shot and contribute to the intrigue. French actress, Simone Simon is charming as Irena. Kent Smith (as his name might imply) is a bit bland as Oliver. For the barriers this film might have helped to break down in the industry with the artistry of director Jacques Tourneur, I have to recommend it, but it is not entirely satisfying. If you want to see a great Jacques Tourneur film, check out 'Out of the Past.' In my estimation, it's the best film noir ever. Though remakes usually never quite live up to the original, I think 1982's 'Cat People' (directed by Paul Schrader) that came 40 years later, may be better. It was sexier and more horrific. I remember it having a big impact on me back then. BTW, full disclosure - I am a cat owner. She's black. She's the best.

plotline Apr 08, 2017

What Lurks Within

"I've fled from the past; from things you could never know or understand. Evil things...evil."- Irena Dubrovna in CAT PEOPLE.

Val Lewton's intuition told him that it was more disturbing to imply than show.

His approach to the horror film was a departure from the monster-in-your-face stylization of the dominant purveyor of the genre in the thirties and the forties, Universal Pictures. With CAT PEOPLE in 1942, Lewton quickly became a master of suggestion. He relied heavily on the bizarre imaginings of the audiences watching his films: a furiously conjuring mind could bring forth truly heart-pounding terror. In writer DeWitt Bodeen, director Jacques Tourneur, and cameraman Nicholas Musuraca, Lewton found kindred spirits who aided him in creating a new genre: the psychological horror film.

CAT PEOPLE emphasizes the terrible power of the mental world over the physical. Bodeen's probing dialogue leads the viewer into Irena's (Simone Simon) waking nightmare. Her words, weighted with apprehension, define her, and give rise to a wealth of psycho-sexual subtexts (fear of intimacy; of the male other; of consummation). And neither the patient logic of her husband (stolid Kent Smith) nor the smug assurances of her playboy psychiatrist (unctuous Tom Conway) dispel her awful fatalism.

Nicholas Musuraca's expressionistic photography, isolated pools of light surrounded by ever-deepening shadows, heightens the trauma of Irena's internal struggle. Jacques Tourneur directs with extraordinary subtlety and amazing brevity (in just 73 minutes!). The director also uses a powerful tool in this talking picture: silence, on an empty footpath through a park; in the dimly lit confines of a nearly deserted indoor swimming pool (not to worry, the screaming commences shortly).

Though a physical manifestation of Irena's supernatural being isn't avoided completely, it, like most of the encroaching dread of the film, is presented obliquely, in a murky haze of horror.
12/7/15

d
Derringer
Mar 05, 2017

This Horror/Fantasy "Cat People" double-bill from the early 1940s actually turned out to be much better than I had initially expected.

The elements of unexplained fear, along with the bizarre, were both handled very nicely. And, in this day and age, I am always glad to see a couple of pictures from an earlier era in film history that actually hold up as well as these 2 did.

The production values in these 2 films were both first-rate and the actors were all quite convincing in their performances.

If you're expecting these 2 films (that are both now more than 70 years old) to live up to today's standards of horror/fantasy then you are sure to be very let-down and disappointed.

But, I strongly believe that if you give these 2 films a fair chance, you will be glad that you did.

m
Me_Tarzan
Dec 29, 2016

"Meow!".... If you are looking for the relentless brutality of "blood, guts & gore" horror, then I suggest you skip this restrained double-bill and move on to the next zombie holocaust.

But if you wanna see a couple of truly eerie Horror/Thrillers from the early 1940s that feature oodles of atmosphere, excellent production values, and pack a sizable wallop (and run under 75 minutes), then these 2 b&w "Cat People" pictures are bound to be right up your alley.

If nothing else - These 2 films prove that (when you've got really talented directors like Jacques Tourneur and Robert Wise at the helm) top quality pictures can be produced, even under tight budgets of just $150,000.

Film #1 - 1942's Cat People - (Set in modern-day NYC) - This tale is all about an ancient curse that takes the meaning of the word "stalking" to a whole new level in terror..... (*Watch movie-trailer*)

Film #2 - 1944's The Curse of the Cat People - Here's quite a chilling, little story about a lonely, 6-year-old girl who retreats into a fantasy world with her imaginary friend..... *Note* - I'm not a big fan of child actors - But I was quite impressed with 7-year-old Ann Carter's performance as Amy Reed.

l
linoboy
Aug 02, 2015

She never lied to us. Although there was no "King John of Serbia" who defeated the The Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard as Irena claims. None of the lists of Kings/Princes of Serbia include a King John. The closest historical personage was the Holy Martyr John Vladimir [St. Jovan Vladimir], killed by Tsar Vladimir in 1015 AD. It still is worth it.

m
Matisse
Oct 31, 2014

Mild by today's standards, but both movies create a creepy atmosphere. The sequel is especially disturbing, as it involves a young girl's imagination, or is it all real? Val Lewton knew how to push people's buttons.

c
chessiesmom
Nov 07, 2013

Wonderful horror story from the 1940's - when horror was psychological rather than violence, gore, and startling noises. Val Lewton was only given a movie title and he had to make up the story first. The Cat People was his first movie, and curiously he was afraid of cats.

theorbys Sep 18, 2012

You won't find a better double bill than this. Elegant, poetic, and incomparable mood and style from the 40s. Cat People is the more famous of the two, but Curse of the Cat People has a special poetic energy all its own. The title however is silly, there is no curse. If you like old b&w movies, both of these are winners.

h
hgibbins
Apr 07, 2012

A good movie (and sequel) which shows the way the craft of film making has changed over the years. If you compare this one to the the remake you'll see big differences.

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