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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Canary still sings!, 24 May 2006
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Paul Leni's fantastic 1927 "old dark house" film of the then very successful play "The Cat and the Canary" still packs a cinematic punch that none of the later remakes could even approach. The film is played completely straight and the German imprssionist cinema that Leni had proved so successful with in his homeland translated to Hollywood without a shadow lost or a set that would let it down. Laura La Plante is a heroine-in-peril without parallel and the cast of characters that surround her in this creepy, truly brilliant piece of cinema history all give 100 per cent support. The plot has been imitated more times than one could count, but never equalled. The cinemaphotgrapy, with its use of light and darkness, shadows and light and the cage-like framing of the damsel in distress is a joy to behold. Leni died just two years after making this movie, but I challenge anyone to realise that this is a "silent movie". (In reality there was no such genre, just movies without spoken dialogue and usually an excellent score, as Leni's film now possesses to assist the atmospherics). See it and delight in it, it is one of a kind and as gripping and funny - and above all, superbly cast - today as it was in 1927! Tom Darragh, Dublin, Ireland.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old millionaire is about to shuffle off this mortal coil., 4 May 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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He suspects he is being threatened to help make him crazy. His relatives have her around him my cats watching a canary.

Even though the story is formula, this is an excellent presentation of who is included in the will and the old man dies. There a few different variances in this presentation. First the will is not to be opened till 20 years after the old man's death. And someone has tampered with the envelope the names the successor is a person named in the will is also proven to be crazy.

So the inheritor the "will" will now become the new canary being watched by all the other cats in the family. We watch as one by one it looks like they will be dispatched starting with... oh no you don't, watch the movie and find out. And of course this just enforces the suspicion that the inheritor is crazy.

Of course as usual it's always the last person you suspect, it's in an old dark house, secret passages and spooky looking eyes and hairy hands and suspects running from room to room.

Laura La Plante plays the innocent but extremely cute looking niece. Martha Mattox places sinister looking caretaker that watched over the house for 20 years (and the safe with the will). Tully Marshall plays a crusty old lawyer who gets to read the will. Creighton Hale gets to play the comic relief the thoughtful cousin and maybe a bit more.

For those of you expecting a talkie you're going to be disappointed. For the rest of us you can actually see their mouths worked and they actually are saying what is being printed. The fun part of the movie is when the characters express themselves in explicative the written cards are expressed in metacharacters (probably helps get around those ~!@#$%^ scenarios.) There is a good sound score in the background.

This is well worth adding to your silent collection and periodically viewing for missed nuances.

Although any version of this film is worth watching I suggest you look for the restored photography version.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A double helping of pleasure., 24 Mar. 2009
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scotraven (Worcestershire, England) - See all my reviews
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A must have for collectors and lovers of haunted old dark house type films. For UK readers thinking about buying the 2005 Image Entertainment edition of "The Cat and the Canary (1927)" I would confirm that this NTSC disc is Region 0 (region free), and I believe it currently has the best print available of the film. This special edition is tinted and comes with two music scores, together with the delightful Harold Lloyd short "Haunted Spooks" from 1920.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, scary and funny, 18 Jun. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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If you have a sense of humor, like a good fright and are unsure whether or not you can tolerate the old silent films, this is one to start out with. It's clever, scary, eerie and funny. One critic said it looked like Hollywood gothic. The director, Paul Leni, came over from Germany and brought a whole bag of German film tricks with him...weird shadows on staircases, images superimposed on other images and billowing drapes. One character looks like a first cousin to Dr. Caligari. Another has fingernails that would make a manicurist retch.

An eccentric, rich old man died in his huge, grotesque mansion. His relatives had circled around him "like cats around a canary." He stipulated that his will was only to be opened twenty years after his death, at midnight; that the person inheriting had to be examined and declared sane by the end of the night; and that if the person is judged insane then another person, named in a second sealed envelope, will inherit. And so, on a dark and stormy night, the relatives gather. The will is read and the inheritor is a young woman, Annabelle West (Laura La Plante), who was the most distant relative. But what of the others...the lawyer who reads the will, the tall, enigmatic man and his more forthright cousin, who appear to dislike each other intensely; the young, feckless man who seems more fearful than brave; and the rather vapid young woman and her sour aunt. Hovering in the background is Mammy Pleasant, the dour housekeeper who has lived by herself in the mansion for 20 years. She has a glare that can freeze your toes. If that isn't enough, the group learns that a madman has escaped from a nearby asylum and is hiding on the grounds or in the mansion.

This movie has everything...sliding doors, hidden passages, clutching hands, lost diamonds, jealousy and murder. It also has two winning performances by Laura La Plante and Creighton Hale (as the timid young man). Most of all, it has style and humor mixed in with the scares. The movie is a lot of fun. The restored DVD picture looks very good, especially when considering the movie is nearly 80 years old; it's easy to watch. There are two background scores that come with the movie. I played the one by Eric Beheim and enjoyed it almost as much as I did the movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, But Not Great Print, 17 April 2012
By 
J. D. Miller "BB Kingsmill" (Leigh, Lancashire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cat And The Canary (Silent) (DVD-R) (1927) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import) (DVD)
As a massive fan of films of the horror genre from this era, this was a must for my collection. I had only ever seen clips of this film, in a documentary called "Universal Horror", narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The quality of the clips were excellent, sadly, I can't say the same about the quality of the print on this dvd. It's very grainy, and sometimes very out of focus. However, it was still enjoyable. There was a talkie version made, called "The Cat Creeps", in 1930, which I would love to have seen, but I believe it's a lost film, so I have had to make do with the 1939 version of "The Cat And The Canary", starring Bob Hope, which was very entertaining nonetheless.
Hope a restored version appears at some point, preferably available in region 2 format.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Movie, 3 Aug. 2014
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Restored version is good quality. Love this film and a bonus of an added short makes good value for money.
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