The Cat and the Canary (1939) - Elliott Nugent

The Cat and the Canary is yet another Old Dark House style horror movie with incredible wit and charm. It surprises you with it's quality and mystery. I guess you could say this is one of the rare Old Dark House films that actually gets the formula correct. This is much to my pleasure. The Cat and the Canary is a pretty great little movie.

The plot is the same as it always is. A group of people, in this case a bunch of distant relatives, gather for the reading of a will. Then someone dies. They all figure out that they are trapped for the night. Then they start dropping off one-by-one. Insert a creepy police officer and Bob Hope and you have The Cat and the Canary. A shining stone in the dull pebbles that surround it. 

I was weary to watch another movie about a haunted house, but this one pulls you in right from the beginning. Bob Hope really steals the show. His fast-paced humor is a perfect mix with the strange and mysterious. He keeps the movie smart. You actually look forward to seeing him on screen. It feels like this movie was made specifically for him as a sort of platform. The other actors don't turn in half of the performance he does. 

This picture should go down in history as a classic. As it stands, I don't really hear anyone talking about it. It's a shame. This movie has all of the quality and entertainment as a Universal feature. If you are looking for a true classic, then I suggest picking this up. You will not be disappointed. 

I'm so scared, even my goose pimples have goose pimples.

  • Many people believe that the lawyer's name (Crosby) is an in-joke reference to the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby pairing. In fact, it's a coincidence; this was the character's name in the stage play as well as the two previous film versions. Moreover, Hope and Crosby did not make a film together until Road to Singapore (1940) the following year. - IMDB

  • One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, that were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and was not televised until several years later. - IMDB