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Cat People

movie review of Cat People –  by The Masked Reviewer

In Cat People, a beautiful Serbian fashion designer Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) marries marine engineer Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). All is going well until the wedding night, Irena refuses to consummate her marriage to Oliver. The next day she admits a seemingly ridiculous fear of turning to a panther if she has intercourse with her husband. When Irena is sent to Dr. Louis Judd, her psychiatrist, a very interesting fact about her family is discovered. During this time Oliver has been spending more time with his secretly love struck co-worker Alice Moore (Jane Randolph).

Simone Simon in Cat People (1942)Cat People had a pitiful budget, so the suspense and horror were provided through clever means. They used lighting, music, suspense, whispers in the dark, encrypted clues, and human fears. All to scare the audience in the 1940’s, with a Hollywood’s anemic budget of under 150,000 dollars. They were forced to re-use sets from higher-budget films RKO films, like the staircase from The Magnificent Ambersons. Cat People affected film noir, providing scenes and set up that was used for years to come – and still is.

Jane Randolph in The Cat People

Jane Randolph in The Cat People

From the lovely costumes to the script, Cat People is an excellent film. But most films have some missteps and Cat People is no different. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph brought as much personality as a mannequin to their performance–they are extremely wooden and unlikeable.   The characters stated that they had redeeming qualities–but never showed it.   Simone Simon played her part beautifully, but with a French accent. (What do you expect she’s French?) Cat People needed better timing or editing: speeding thru important scenes and staying far too long on unimportant scenes. This film needed more attention to correcting the flaws in Cat People.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.

Enjoyable, and full of suspense I would watch Cat People again.

Editorial review of Cat People (1942), courtesy of Amazon.com

Movie poster for Cat People - "A kiss could change her into a monstrous fang-and-claw killer"The original 1943 film that inspired the sexier 1982 Natassja Kinski remake is an intriguing metaphor for sexual repression and anxiety. When a Manhattan ship architect named Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) marries beautiful but psychologically tortured fashion sketch artist Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon), he has little knowledge of her past other than that she is tortured by myths from her European homeland. His bride fears she will transform into a deadly panther if aroused or angry. Once their passionless marriage deteriorates, and Oliver begins to ponder a romance with his coworker Alice Moore (Jane Randolph), Irena’s jealousy and anger begin a series of transformations that threaten her therapist, her husband, and Alice. Director Jacques Tourneur never shows Irena’s metamorphosis, usually implying the presence of her feline alter ego through creepy sound effects, ominous shadows, and dramatic camera angles, all elements that effectively generate suspense and fear. This black-and-white mood piece takes its time building up its story, and while Irena’s inner panther could easily be interpreted as representing the wrath of a woman scorned,

Director Jacques Tourneur never shows Irena’s metamorphosis, usually implying the presence of her feline alter ego through creepy sound effects, ominous shadows, and dramatic camera angles, all elements that effectively generate suspense and fear. This black-and-white mood piece takes its time building up its story, and while Irena’s inner panther could easily be interpreted as representing the wrath of a woman scorned, Cat People goes deeper in probing her psychic scars. —Bryan Reesman

Movie quotes from Cat People

Woman at pet shop: You can fool everybody, but laudie dearie me, you can’t fool a cat. They seem to know who’s not right.


Irena Dubrovna: I like the dark. It’s friendly.


Irena Dubrovna: Oh, it’s alright. It’s just that cats don’t seem to like me.


Irena Dubrovna: What should I tell my husband? Naturally, he’s anxious to have some word.
Dr. Louis Judd: What does one tell a husband? One tells him nothing.


Oliver “Ollie” Reed’ Reed: You cold?
Alice Moore: A cat just walked over my grave.


Dr. Louis Judd: Why would she wish to harm you?
Alice Moore: Because I’m in love with her husband.


Irena Dubrovna: Will you have tea with me in my apartment?
Oliver “Ollie” Reed’ Reed: You make everything so simple!


The Commodore: Look at that woman over there.
Doc Carver: Looks just like a cat.


Irena Dubrovna: Oh, you can tell Alice anything, she’s such a good egg she can understand anything
Oliver “Ollie” Reed: There are some things a woman doesn’t want other women to understand.