Home » Horror movies » The Leopard Man by Val Lewton

The Leopard Man by Val Lewton

Synopsis of The Leopard Man

Terror filled story of an escaped leopard that terrorizes a small town. Then the leopard is found dead…  But the killings continue in The Leopard Man.

Val Lewton’s The Leopard Man (1943) starring Dennis O’Keefe, Margo,  Jean Brooks, James Bell

Reviewed by: The Masked Reviewer

The Leopard Man - women alone the victims of a strange, savage killer - Dennis O'Keefe, Margo

Jerry Manning (Dennis O’Keefe) hires a tamed leopard for his girlfriend Kiki’s nightclub act, when her competition scares away the leopard. Later that night a young woman Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry) is killed in a wild animal attack. Kiki (Jean Brooks) feeling guilty gives the family an expensive pin to help pay for the funeral. As the animal hunt continues more young women die. Jerry begins his own investigation into these slayings, and discovers something unexpected. The Leopard Man is a must see movie, it is an intelligent, tasteful mystery.

Cast of characters

  • Jerry Manning (Dennis O’Keefe, Hangmen Also Die). The man that hires the leopard for a publicity stunt. After the leopard escapes and kills a local, he blames himself for the tragedy. But as the body count grows he begins to question if the animal is responsible for all of the killings.
  • Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks, The Seventh Victim). After the leopard kills a young girl, she tries to help the family with the funeral costs.
  • Clo-Clo (Margo, Lost Horizon). A self confessed gold digger that scares away the leopard. She wants money to help her family, and wishes to marry the poor Carlos.
  • Maria (Isabel Jewell, Gone With the Wind). The fortune teller that keeps finding death in the cards.
  • Dr. Galbraith (James Bell, I Walked with a Zombie). A quiet man that runs the local museum. Jerry’s friend that he goes to for advice frequently.
  • Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry, Gildersleeve on Broadway). The first victim of the leopards attacks.
  • Consuelo Contreras (Tuulikki Paananen). A charming young lady that wants some freedom from her mother.
  • Charlie How-Come (Abner Biberman, His Girl Friday). The Leopard Man that begins to demand payment from Jerry to replace his missing leopard.
  • The leopard (Dynamite). The same animal Val Lewton had in Cat People.

Thoughts and recommendation

Unlike most Val Lewton productions The Leopard Man is much more straightforward, and that isn’t a terrible thing. The mystery is entertaining, and the characters are likeable. The town is a realistic, and an uncommon setting that works wonderfully for the story. There is a warm feeling of camaraderie that adds to the community. The Leopard Man is shot well, and has good pacing.

It’s is an interesting mystery, with enjoyable characters. The Leopard Man is a great film that has been overlooked for too long.

I rate it 4/5 stars