Synopsis of The Cat and the Canary
The classic “old dark house” motif is given sterling treatment in The Cat and the Canary. Bob Hope’s status as a star was assured with his role as Wallie Campbell. He becomes the cowardly protector of Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard). She, in turn, who must spend one night in the eerie mansion of her late, eccentric, millionaire uncle. If she can make it through the night without losing her mind, Joyce stands to inherit her uncle’s entire fortune. Of course, all the other potential heirs now have a motive to drive her insane.
The frights are nonstop as hands reach out from nowhere, people disappear between trap doors, the halls echo with terrifying sounds, and secret doorways lead to hidden passageways. Three people are murdered before Wallie solves the mystery and sees Goddard through the night. Hope integrates his wiseacre comedic style into an essentially straight role, with the humor well-placed in the otherwise moody material. Creepy lighting and music also aid director Elliott Nugent in crafting an effective and fun version of one the genre’s archetypal stories. …The Cat and the Canary
Cast of characters in The Cat and the Canary
- Wally Campbell (Bob Hope, The Princess and the Pirate) – the likable everyman – a wisecracking coward determined to protect:
- Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard, The Great Dictator) – the heroine of the movie, who inherits the mansion, if she stays the night — and isn’t driven insane by her relatives
- Fred Blythe (John Beal, The Vampire) – a sullen, sarcastic man who is romantically interested in Joyce
- Charles Wilder (Douglass Montgomery, Little Women) – a charming, attractive man who wishes to resume a previous relationship with Joyce
- Miss Lu (Gale Sondergaard, Road to Rio) – the spooky Creole housekeeper
- Aunt Susan (Elizabeth Patterson, I Married a Witch) – an older woman who was once close to Joyce
- Mr. Crosby (George Zucco, The Mad Ghoul) – a lawyer, executor of Norman’s estate
- Sicily (Nydia Westman, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken) – an excitable young woman who reveres Wally
Editorial review of The Cat and the Canary courtesy of Amazon.com
The legendary Bob Hope is at his very best in the hilarious comedy thriller The Cat and the Canary. A decade after the death of an eccentric millionaire, his remaining relatives gather for the reading of the will at his abandoned mansion set deep in the Louisiana bayous. Tension builds after his niece Joyce (Paulette Goddard) is named the sole inheritor and it is revealed that one of the other relatives will get everything if the heiress goes insane within the next 30 days.
The timid Wally (Hope) vows to protect Joyce who must spend the night in the haunted mansion along with her jealous relatives, a creepy maid and a homicidal maniac who has just escaped from a nearby sanitarium. An equal mix of both frights and fun, this unforgettable classic showcases one of the most popular entertainers of all time and has become the gold standard for the horror-comedy genre!