Vic’s Classics – “Cat People” (1942)

What’s it About?

An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland’s fables if they are intimate together.

“Cat People”

Directed by Jacques Tourneur

8 out of 10

By Vic

Jacques Tourneur directed this atmospheric 1942 psychological thriller for RKO Pictures under the supervision of producer Lewton, who was renowned in many circles as a film maker who could produce them fast and produce them good. He did have an uncanny ability to use mood, shadow and that most alluring of cinematic manipulations, the subtext, to tell a good story. And boy is “Cat People” a story that oozes with dark, fairy tale melodrama.

With the great writing by DeWitt Bodeen and the eerie, suggestive cinematography, Lewton and Tourneur most likely started the genre of what will one day become the psychological, thinking-person’s film. Shadows, lines and what we do not see in the darkness makes “Cat People” a sublime and ethereal classic.Simone Simon, a slender, attractive and very stoic actress, plays Irena, a Serbian fashion artist. She harbors deep desires and secrets that Lewton and Tournuer bring forth with lean visual passion.

Oh and she turns into a mean bitch of a Panther when aroused or jealous. The film gets bogged down in some melodrama which almost emulates soap operatic tendencies and at times has a cheap, staged atmosphere. But the film rises above these shortcomings and dissects the core material – the female psyche and sexuality – by using the Black Panther/Irena as a great metaphor to explore this provocative theme.

Cat People is chock full of noir style and may not be for everyone. Especially if you like your suspense films fast and furious. Many actually favor the sequel “Curse of the Cat People” to the first film. Lewton’s original classic does succeed in bending light and shadow while facing deep, dark themes of sexuality and animal tendencies.

Enjoy the Classic Pool Scene clip below! Rawr!

14 comments

  1. I’m one of the few that prefer Paul Schrader’s remake to Lewton’s original. I own the Lewton collection and am a big fan of his work but I just find this one has a big problem with style over substance. It just never delivers the big payoff for me but it is one hell of a good looking movie & this is one hell of a write up!
    Good work Vic!

    • Thank you Sir! And I as well prefer Schrader’s film over this one. I love it. Very stylish, sexy and scary. I don’t think anyone other than Schrader could have pulled it off.

    • Love Val too. Did you ever see that Doc about him that Scorcese narrated? I forget the title. I’ll find it and pass it on to you. It was very interesting. Thanks for reading bro!

  2. Actually no. I do remember TCM airing it, but I didn’t see it. The Body Snatchers was my favorite Lewton flick.

    This month I got my reviews mostly planned out. And starting tomorrow I’ll start posting one everyday or every other day. Isn’t this time of year so much fun to review?

    • Oh hell yeah. I’m having a blast. Watching something now for review then doing a review for an old, classic TV horror movie. Gonna be fun. I have some comic reviews lined up as well. Can’t wait for your reviews, bro!

  3. Can’t wait for your next batch of reviews. And I totally forgot about reviewing the Halloween comics until you mentioned comic reviews. Those if I can do,a good job will be later in the months.

    I will post something tomorrow, but not sure yet, which it will be. I should have been better prepared lol

    • Thanks. I’m looking forward to your Comic reviews as well. You always find some great pics to post with them too. I’ll keep an eye out for your new stuff, my man. 😀

    • Thanks! Cat People is so full of mood and atmosphere that I had to include it this month for HorrorFest. I’m glad you like the new look. I thought it was time for a change. Took me a while to decide on the right one but it was cool looking through them all. And you are perfectly welcome regarding the blogroll. It was my pleasure. Gotta spread the love! 😀

    • Anytime. It’s a very moody and atmospheric movie. Full of subtext, metaphor and all that good stuff. It’s implied horror and the visuals, lighting and camera-work bring it all out. Hope you enjoy it. And like always, thank you for stopping in! 😀

    • Great. Cat People is a good to film to revisit especially after some time passes. It’s like discovering it all over again. Enjoy and I’m glad you liked the review. Thanks for stopping in, man!

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