Cat People (1942) - Jacques Tourneur




Director: Jacques Tourneur
Producer: Val Lewton
Written: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph
Studio: RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
Release Date: December 6, 1942
Country: United States
Did ya know: Original trade reviews appeared Friday the 13 November 1942. This movie was in theaters for ever. It played for so long that reviewers could see it multiple times. The horror movie technique of slowly building tension to a jarring shock which turns out to be something completely harmless and benign became known as a "Lewton bus" after a famous scene in this movie created by producer Val Lewton 

Cat People is an awesome film noir style horror film that has to do with some pretty heavy problems for its day. It was made during World War II, which was a crazy time for America and a crazy time to be making a horror film. The movie has to do with a young girl that believes she comes from this rare race of Serbians that can turn into cats. Not like house cats, but like full grown leopards and the like.

The movie is highly stylized and very uniquely shot. It has some really fantastic scenes that are creative and compelling. I am not a fan of anamorphic movies, films where the main villain turns into an Animal type thing just don't do it for me. However, this movie is very clever about its transformation. The effects are subtle and heavily shadowed to protect the charm of the story. Film noir is a fantastic medium to present these types of movies.

The acting in the movie is very well done Simone Simon does a great job as our helpless anamorphic and Kent Smith does a great job as her beau. They create an amazing chemistry that develops into a jealous love triangle very well. They do a great job of making the story seem believable. Again, the effects are tremendous. Maybe it is the primitive effects that I am used to seeing in black and white movies, but this blows other effects out of the water. The story isn't even horrible. It moves at a great pace and the shadowing makes for awesome mystery.

This is a very good movie and I recommend it whole-heartily. If you are a film student then you would really enjoy this movie. It is really fun to watch the cinematographer at his best. It is also good for casual horror fans, but it might fall short if you are really wanting some blood or guts.