Not Exactly… – The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

The Curse of the Cat People 2
The Curse of the Cat People, misleadingly marketed as a horror movie to audiences at the time of its release, is not a horror in any way whatsoever. Where Cat People almost reinvented the way that a horror film could be made, none of that was showcased here and instead of any frights or scares was more melodrama than anything else. So for those who thought that there would be a little revenge or at least some sort of cat mauling or killing taking place, they will be sorely disappointed. What is present is a tale of a lonely little girl who has no real friends until she dreams one up in the form of her father’s dead wife Irena. Whether Irena is purely imagination or some sort of ghost is unknown, but it really matters very little because the focus of this film is not Irena or any of the cat people she was supposedly descended from – it is of Amy and her desire to have a friend.

The Curse of the Cat People 14Despite the lack of horror, the movie turns out to be exceedingly charming and one that anyone should be able to empathize with. Everyone has felt lonely as a child at one point in their lives and seeing Amy as portrayed by Ann Carter, playing by herself and doing what children do all alone hits home and is actually quite sad. The film is not a very joyous occasion, even when Irena comes to Amy and they become friends, the father’s heartache at missing his dead wife comes into focus and as you make your way through this seventy minute picture, there are very few times where you actually want to smile, much less laugh. Irena is played by the returning Simone Simon once again along with Kent Smith and Jane Randolph reprising their performances from the first picture. Aside from the actors and producer Val Lewton, there is nothing that ties this film back to the original and it is a bit of a shame as that is what most people were most likely watching this film for in the first place.

Writing for the movie once again is DeWitt Bodeen and much like that first picture, it is beautifully shot with Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch at the helm directing the affair. The only weakness is the adult cast who pale in comparison to Carter and the ghost of Irena, which is not all that bad considering what you thought you were going to watch in the first place. Horror it may lack, but The Curse of the Cat People still ended up being quite a good film. It is by all accounts, a very solid drama and one that is thoroughly engaging.

4 out of 5
The Curse of the Cat People 3

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