17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2009
Both movies on this Region 1 disc star Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Jane Randolph and both are produced by Val Lewton, but apart from the barest thread, they have little in common in the actual story telling. Cat People is a classic horror (later poorly remade with Nastassja Kinski). Simone Simon plays Irena Dubrovna, a lady who believes she is descended from a village of people who had become devil worshippers. Irena feels that if her passions are aroused sexually or in jealousy or rage, she will change into a dangerous cat, akin to the panther she is sketching at the beginning of the movie. This of course presents difficulties for her romance with Oliver, played by Kent Smith. Nevertheless they marry, only for Oliver to turn more and more towards his colleague Alice, played by Jane Randolph. Oliver does this as he is frustrated by Irena not sleeping with him and her referring back to the aforementioned legend as her reason for not doing so. Alice doesn't hesitate to hang around Oliver at every opportunity and there isn't room for three people in this marriage! What will happen? This is a black and white movie but that's all the better as shadows take the place of special effects and it's all very atmospheric.
The second feature is Curse Of The Cat People but there are no dangerous cats and few scenes showing Irena, who appears only to Amy, the child of the now married Oliver and Alice. Are these appearances only in Amy's imagination?. All is explained in the excellent commentaries provided by Greg Mank, which include excerpts of an audio interview with Simone Simon. Both movies are brilliant and this double feature dvd has the original trailers and subtitles, but these are only available for the feature films.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
CAT PEOPLE regarded as a clasic is for me an essential film to have in my library. Beautifully photographed, if low budget, it captures the mood of unseen horror and fear, loneleyness, and love. With some startling scenes for the time - The Swimming Pool sequence stands out, and was repeated in the less subtle, but still enjoyable remake with Nastassia Kinski - this is a film I watch again and again. An excellent B/W 4.3 print. CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE - I confess - I prefer this so called sequel! It is a romantic fairy story (If you liked "The Enchanted Cottage" you will probably love this too.) What made it for me, apart from Somone Simon - still gorgeous - was Anne Carter as 6 year old Amy, Kent Smith and Jane Randolph's lonely daughter who is befriende by Irena from "The Cat People" - Real or a ghost or a figment of Amy's imagination? When you think of some of the horrible child actors around Hollywood in the 40's you realise what a casting coup she is. There is no sensational horror or even mild shocks, but for me it remains one of the great romances/fairy tales Hollywood could do so well. Great print again. Good value and highly recomended. I forgot to mention the Extras - Commentaries on both movies, Interview excerpts with Simone, Trailers and Subs. VFM!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have both of these films on VHS tapes, and was about to buy the newish British DVD releases, when I found this US double bill, which comes at a fraction of the price. As long as you have a multi-region DVD player, and your TV can cope with NTSC black and white, it's unmissable value. The wonderful, haunting quality of both films will not disappoint, although Cat People is a truly subtle horror story, while Curse of the Cat People has a different director and is just a delightful story of a lonely little girl's encounters with an imaginary friend (or so it seems - I wasn't quite sure it was all in her imagination). The adult stars are the same in both movies, including the lovely and impish Simone Simon. UPDATE: I bought this for a bargain price, but prices can change.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Says psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd, author of The Anatomy of Atavism, to Irena Reed, his reluctant patient. He is describing the things they have just talked about. "...and the cat women of your village, too. You told me of them, women who in jealousy or anger or out of their own corrupt passions can change into great cats, like panthers. And if one of these women were to fall in love, and her lover was to kiss her and to take her into his embrace, she would be driven by her own evil to kill him."
For me, this overripe bit of psychiatry from the suave, moth-eaten Tom Conway as Judd is about as good as Cat People gets. The film is a Poverty Row B movie which was made on a shoestring in 1942, when theaters played two-movie bills with cartoons, short subjects, a news reel and coming attractions. Studios cranked out hundreds of B movies to fill the bottom half of those double bills.
Cat People, along with the other movies producer Val Lewton ground out, using talented (and cheap) directors and writers and using titles given to him by his studio, has gotten a lot of retrospective praise, especially for the camerawork, lighting and directing. But for me, Cat People is something of a disappointment. Without a budget to speak of and with B level actors, he and director Jacques Tourneur had to rely on implied fear, creepy situations with few payoffs and characters who, frankly, I didn't care much about.
Irena (Simone Simon), has come to America from a village in Serbia. She believes that in the throws of passion she will turn into a large and violent cat. This naturally slows things down quite a bit in her new marriage to square-jawed and infinitely patient Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). She's not helped when her husband finally has had enough and decides he's really in love with his co-worker, Alice Moore (Jane Randolph). The denouement involves a sword cane, a key to open the panther cage at the zoo and the realization by Oliver and Alice that Irena wasn't kidding.
The movie has two brief but genuinely creepy moments: When Alice is walking home late at night and senses someone, or something, is behind her, and Alice in the swimming pool of her residential apartment. She's all by herself...except she hears a guttural growl. The dark shadows, the moving light reflected from the water onto the walls, the knowledge that something is there with her is enough to put anyone off swimming for a while.
The movie was interesting, even fun to watch. It looked good for what it was, a low budget B movie. I think it's stretching things a bit, as some professional critics are doing now, to call it a kind of low-budget masterpiece. If you like B movies from the Forties, and I do a lot, watch it, enjoy and decide for yourself.
Simone Simon, in my opinion, had one of the most knowing glances of any actress I've ever seen. In this movie, unfortunately, her curse was not turning into a panther but having to wear her hair in a really unattractive fashion. To see her at her best, both in looks and in portraying self-centered sexuality, check out La Bete Humaine.
Also keep an eye out for Theresa Harris, the black actress who plays the waitress in the cafe Oliver frequents. She's unbilled, as she was in most of the movies during her long career. She makes an impression in a tiny role.
THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE:
Great potential within limited means, and then the slow leak of air from the balloon. The Curse of the Cat People pulls together Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Jane Randolph from 1942's Cat People and attempts to cash in on that movie's success. This time, however, despite great photography and some eerie situations, the pieces simply fall apart.
It's now about seven years since Irena Reed (Simone Simon) died. Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) has married Alice Moore (Jane Randolph). They live in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood, and they have a beautiful, quiet, lonely six-year-old daughter, Amy (Ann Carter). One afternoon Amy wanders down the street and finds her way into the yard of a great old house. She hears, "Little girl, little girl," and someone behind the curtains of an upstairs window throws down to her a ring tied to a handkerchief. But just then a severe looking woman appears, takes the handkerchief from Amy and tells her to leave. Amy believes she was given a wishing ring. One afternoon, playing by herself in her backyard, she wishes for a friend. Soon, a friend appears...Irena, in a flowing gossamer white gown. She and Amy play together during the days which pass. Is Irena just a figment of a lonely little girl's need, or is she something more sinister from her father's past? And what about the two women who live in that forbidding mansion...an old woman who says her daughter died years ago and the other woman who sent Amy on her way but who insists she is the old woman's daughter. All I can say is that the movie builds some intriguing possibilities, but ends with a great dollop of sentimental goop.
Simone Simon plays a key role but has relatively little screen time, and only with Amy. It is disconcerting to see how Irena, a woman of repressed sexuality and rage in Cat People, has now become a low-budget version of Glinda, the good witch of the north. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph were both limited actors. Here Smith's Oliver Reed has become a successful, clueless clod and Randolph's Alice Reed is little more than a mannered antecedent to June Cleaver. The two women in the mansion fare much better. The old woman, Mrs. Julie Farren, is played by Julia Dean with a nice combination of ambivalent kindness mixed with a touch of angry dementia. The standout, in my view, is Elizabeth Russell as her daughter, Barbara Farren. Russell is a tall woman who has "psycho" written all over her attractive, severe features. But is she?
The Curse of the Cat People is a title that, as was often the case with a Val Lewton production, doesn't have much more than a slight relevance to the storyline. Still, the movie has some great ingredients: The possibility of horror in bright daylight in a nice neighborhood; the dread that something awful might happen to a child; the uncertainty of who is going off their hinges. But it doesn't happen. There is some tension and suspense, but to no great purpose. We just wind up knowing more than we want to about the needs of lonely children.
The DVD transfer looks very good with both movies. They share the same disc, which is part of the five-DVD Val Lewton Collection. Each movie has a commentary.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
CAT PEOPLE and THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE Region 1 NTSC US Import DVD
Back in the 1980s I replaced most of my collection of 8mm movies with VHS and I have been going through a same process of upgrading to DVD for the last few years. This has given me the excuse to revisit many films that I have not seem for some time and CAT PEOPLE is one of them. I replaced my VHS tape with both the double feature Region 1 disc which includes the sequel THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE.
Both movies were produced by Val Lewton, but whilst CAT PEOPLE (1942) is truely of the horror movie genre, the sequel THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, released two years later in 1944 is really a psychological thriller with supernatural overtones. Both movies share the same star cast; Simone Simon plays Irena Dubrovna, Kent Smith plays Oliver Reed and the part of his associate Alice is taken by Jane Randolph, with the great Tom Conway, the brother of George Sanders and best remembered for his role as 'The Falcon' was cast as Dr.Louis Judd.
The plot of CAT PEOPLE has American designer Oliver Reed falling in love with a beautiful Serbian woman that he meets at a zoo and in due course they marry. Their relationship comes under strain because Irena believes she is the victim of an ancient curse that causes her to transform into a great cat if she become emotionally involved with a man, and the marriage is not consummated. Oliver arranges for Irena to receive treatment with psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd, and Oliver seeks "consolation" with his colleague Alice Moore. Irena becomes jealous when she learns that she may be losing Oliver to Alice and her emotions bring about the inevitable result.
The sequel, THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE takes place some years later when the ghost of Irena appears to the child of Oliver and Alice. This is more of a psychological thriller without any transformations to panthers and is really a little lack lustre compared to the original film, although it is well directed and performed it will be a disapointment to viewers expect a horror sequel to the original.
Both films are very good, Cat People is one of the classic horror movies of the 1940s and getting the scarce sequel on the same disc along with trailers and an interview with Simone Simon make this an excellent addition to any horror movie collection.