CAT PEOPLE

Discussion of programming on TCM.

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

Post Reply
User avatar
mrsl
Posts: 4220
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 5:20 pm
Location: Chicago SW suburbs

CAT PEOPLE

Post by mrsl »

I wasn't sure where to put this; should I put it in Sci-fi and Horror, or in Comedies? The latter seemed most likely after watching.

I saw this years ago, so long in fact, I forgot how dumb it was. Dumb number 1 is the husband so brilliantly played by Kent Smith. Good thinking on his part, your wife shows signs of jealousy and mental problems, so be sure to aggravate them by continued late nights with your female buddy from the museum. Dumb number 2 is the psychiatrist, another brilliant performance by Tom Conway playing a twist on the patient falling for the doctor, good thing his brother needed him later in the year, going from cats to falcons was a life saver for him. Dumb number 3 is 'poor' Ilena. Never let it be said I dissed another religion, but this chick is living a 'curse' that she doesn't understand, doesn't believe in, and can't control. It had something to do with the old ladies back in Serbia, but she doesn't know how it followed her to the U.S.

Finally dumb number 4 is the guy who had a few bucks and wanted to become a director/producer so he came up with this foolishness.

I suppose this is a sample of this Lewton guy being featured this month. If Cat People, and Walking with a Zombie are the best he can do, he should go back into the shadows where Marty found him. What a drip!!!!!!!!!!

Anne
Anne


***********************************************************************
* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************
raftfan
Posts: 65
Joined: January 2nd, 2008, 12:05 pm
Location: Winnipeg

Post by raftfan »

I kinda like "Cat People", but you've got some relevant points. I enjoy its atmosphere and suggestion of menace, but the storyline is lacking and Kent Smith's character is not the brightest fish in the pond.

But I don't think anyone can deny that Val Lewton did create a masterpiece in "The Body Snatcher". Still my favorite horror film of all time.
benwhowell
Posts: 568
Joined: April 16th, 2007, 3:14 pm
Location: Las Vegas
Contact:

Mind over matter

Post by benwhowell »

I have to say that I admire Val Lewton very much. He was a "master" at creating atmospheric (psychological) "thrillers" on miniscule budgets. He also gave us fascinating glimpses at various "sub-cultures" and their beliefs/practices/rituals/traditions...religious groups, ethnic groups, etc.- showing us how they all co-exist in a particular "village." His movies were true "melting pots."
Because of all these elements found in his short- yet memorable- little features, I tend to miss the "flaws."
However, I do have issues with "The Leopard Man." It really bugs me that Gabriella (the dancer/gold-digger) is not held responsible for the leopard getting away. After all, it was her fault-scaring "him" with those annoying "clickers." (I forgot what they're called.) Also, the scene in the cemetary...After the gatekeeper shows up people are still climbing that ladder over the wall. Did he forget his key or what?
Handsome Johnny Eck
Mr. Arkadin
Posts: 2657
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:00 pm

Post by Mr. Arkadin »

The reason Cat People is a great film (in my opinion) is by what is not shown or laid out in the script.

Here's a few things I said about the film in the Horror section:

The first Lewton/Tourneur collaboration, Cat People is the story of a beautiful Serbian girl living in America. Irena is concerned about her occult heritage in which sexually aroused women took on the shape of vicious panthers and leopards. She meets a nice man and marries him, but will not consummate their relationship for fear that she will be forever changed into a wild beast.

In this one small film, Tourneur dealt with murder, lust, sex and the carnal appetites of the body, yet did not break the Hays code! No monster is ever shown. Instead, we are treated to shadowy images, animal growls, objects or people who distract us on one side of the frame while another image enters from the opposite side. It’s an amazing slight of hand game, but Cat People is also a deep psychological work that pits the flesh against the spirit. Irena is terrified of her own body and it’s desires, which threaten to corrupt her good nature. She is married, but afraid to give herself to her husband for fear her lust will destroy him. In a day when sex is used to sell everything, Cat People asks serious questions about sex and chastity. Do we control our desires or do our desires control us?

Tourneur and Lewton took a bold step in assuming that the audience could reason, and chew over the unexplained using their mind instead of simply dumbing the films down to the lowest common demominator. In The Leopard Man, Dr. Galbriath uses Charlie the leopard owners own mind and morality against him (and later falls for the same trick himself). Tourneur does the same with us, creating works where our imagination, experiences, and personal fears provide the suspense. It's not what we see, rather it is skillful manipulation by the director of what we do not see.

I should mention that Cat People is given homage in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) where Kirk Douglas and his director pal make "The Cat Man" using Lewton and Tourneur's techniques (and even explaining them!) to great success--until they have to make "The Son of Cat Man".
User avatar
sandykaypax
Posts: 497
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:15 pm
Location: Beautiful Ohio

Post by sandykaypax »

Watch out, everyone! I am of Serbian descent--my paternal grandfather came from there...

meow

Sandy K :twisted:
User avatar
Dewey1960
Posts: 2514
Joined: April 17th, 2007, 7:52 am
Location: Oakland, CA

Post by Dewey1960 »

Congrats, Mr. Ark, that was one of the most incisive pieces I've read on the subject of Val Lewton and, in particular, CAT PEOPLE. I'm one of those who believes that Lewton's films, especially those he made with Tourneur, are among the finest ever made in Hollywood. It seems there are two basic types of movie watchers: those who are primarily driven by visual impulses and are motivated to experience film on a more visceral level, and those who are more literal-minded and tend to conform to certain expectations regarding elements such as plot and performance; elements that generally have little or nothing to do with the medium itself. The former seem to love Lewton and the latter either don't or are indifferent to him.
feaito

Post by feaito »

sandykaypax wrote:Watch out, everyone! I am of Serbian descent--my paternal grandfather came from there...

meow

Sandy K :twisted:
How interesting Sandy, in my country there are many people of Croatian descent and very few of Serbian. I visited Belgrade in 1998, prior to the bombings that affected the city months later, and it was an intriguing experience.
User avatar
sandykaypax
Posts: 497
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 3:15 pm
Location: Beautiful Ohio

Post by sandykaypax »

Hi Feaito! My grandfather was Serbian, my grandmother was Serbian/Croatian. I believe that her family lived in an area that was close to the border. They met, however, in the United States. My grandfather came to the States as a young man and fought in the U.S. Army during World War I. There are a lot of Croatians, and Americans of Croatian descent in the Cleveland area, probably more than of Serbian descent.

When I was growing up, I always felt kind of weird having to explain to other kids where Serbia was. It was easier just to say that I was Irish on my mother's side.

In Chile, are most people of Chilean descent only?

Sandy K
feaito

Post by feaito »

sandykaypax wrote: In Chile, are most people of Chilean descent only?

Sandy K
Hi Sandy, like in the USA and all the American countries, the only really "Chileans" are the people whose ancestors are from Native Tribes that existed here when the colonizers arrived (like the Mapuches, Incas, Diaguitas, Atacameños, Tehuelches, etc.), but most of them are mixed with Spanish ancestors.

Currently, most of the population is of Spanish and/or Native descent. We had also some French, English & Portuguese immigration and, especially during the XIXth and XXth century, important Italian, German, Jewish (from all countries in Europe), Croatian and Arab immigration. The Jewish community tends to be more "closed".
Post Reply