Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Black Cat (1934)

The Black Cat 1934 DVD

Universal Pictures
Starring:
 Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi
Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Peter and Joan Alison (David Manners and Julie Bishop) meet up with the mysterious Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) while on a train on their honeymoon and end up accompanying the doctor to the art deco residence of his former acquaintance Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff) who is even more mysterious.

Featured Feline: This otherwise nifty thriller disappoints in two ways.  First, the opening credits say the story is based on the Edgar Allan Poe tale but in fact has really nothing to do with that story.  Second, the black cat of the title only appears briefly in a few scenes and doesn’t have any major role in the plot.

The Black Cat 1934 - lobby card

The cat first appears shortly after Dr. Werdegast and the couple arrive at Poelzig’s home.  Werdegast is talking with Poelzig and Peter when he shrinks at the sight of a cat’s shadow on a wall.

The Black Cat 1934 - cat's shadow on wall

Kitty Carnage Warning! When the black cat shows itself, Werdegast shrivels back in fear then grabs a knife from a table and hurls it at the cat.  Fortunately we do not see the damage but we hear the cat cry out.  Poelzig explains that the man has a fear of cats and a discussion about how black cats are evil ensues.  Poelzig is quick to point out that in lore black cats cannot be killed.

The Black Cat 1934 - black cat in hallway

Apparently Poelzig is right because a short time later he is seen carrying the black cat around with him when he walks through his collection of dead women encased in glass.

The Black Cat 1934 - Poelzig Boris Karloff looking at woman in glass while carrying black cat

The Black Cat 1934 - Poelzig Boris Karloff looking at another woman in glass while carrying black cat

Poelzig then sets the cat outside.

The Black Cat 1934 - black cat being set outside

Later Poelzig shows Werdegast one of the women and Werdegast prepares to shoot him.  Just then the black cat appears, scaring Werdegast into submission.

The Black Cat 1934 - black cat and shadow in dark doorway

The Black Cat 1934 - black cat and shadow in dark doorway with tail wagging animated gif

The black cat is next seen in Joan’s room where she is being kept by Poelzig.  It runs out of an adjacent room and across the floor.

The Black Cat 1934 - black cat running into room

After this a woman appears (we won’t spoil who she is here).  She talks with Joan for a bit until Poelzig appears.  The black cat jumps up on a table to meet him.

The Black Cat 1934 - Poelzig Boris Karloff with black cat on table

Poelzig picks up the black cat and angrily stares at the women.  The other one goes back into her room and Poelzig gives Joan one last stare before going after her.

The Black Cat 1934 - Poelzig Boris Karloff holding black cat while looking at Joan Julie Bishop

Final Mewsings: If you name a movie for a black cat, then please include more black cat!


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Love Begins at Twenty (1936)

Warner Bros.
Starring:
 Hugh Herbert, Dorothy Vaughan
Directed by: Frank McDonald

Synopsis: A screwball day in the life of Horatio Gillingwater (Hugh Herbert), a milquetoast husband who puts up with constant nagging from Evie, his wife (Dorothy Vaughan), but may finally grow a backbone in defense of his youngest daughter (Patricia Ellis).

Kitty Cameo: The film opens with Evie and Horatio waking up in the morning and immediately she nags him to get up and turn on the furnace.  As he goes downstairs we can hear kittens mewing.  Horatio stoops down near a cardboard box where a mother cat is sitting with her newborn kittens.

Love Begins at Twenty - Horatio Gillingwater Hugh Herbert stooped down to look at tabby cat Sue in box

Horatio congratulates the cat, whom he calls Sue.  Evie then knocks on the vent to get his attention and when he tells her about Sue having another batch of kittens she is angry and says they have to give Sue away.  Horatio comments that the kittens are cute but Evie is unmoved.  Sue and her kittens are not seen again after this.

Love Begins at Twenty - tabby cat Sue and kittens in cardboard box

Final Mewsings: Our advice: Lose the wife and keep the cats!


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Kanashimi no Beradonna (1973)

Belladonna of Sadness poster

English Title: Belladonna of Sadness
Mushi
Starring:
 Aiko Nagayama, Tatsuya Nakadai
Directed by: Eiichi Yamamoto

Synopsis: Jeanne (voiced by Aiko Nagayama) marries the love of her life, Jean (voiced by Katsutaka Ito), only to be persecuted by the rulers of the land which drives her to make a pact with the devil for power.

Purr Blur: During one of the panning shots of the village a cat can be seen in the background.

Belladonna of Sadness - cat in background of village

Final Mewsings: Cats are usually cool with witches.


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Hard Rain (1998)

Hard Rain DVD

Paramount Pictures
Starring:
 Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, Betty White
Directed by: Mikael Salomon

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: During the midst of a torrential rain which is flooding a small town an armored car robbery goes wrong leading to a soaking chase as the crooks try to catch up with driver Tom (Christian Slater).

Kitty Cameo: In one scene, Tom and his newfound ally Karen (Minnie Driver) find themselves in the home of Doreen and Henry Sears (Betty White and Richard Dysart) who have stayed against evacuation orders to defend their home.  Doreen is a stubborn nag and she thinks Tom and Karen are looters.  She yells at Karen while holding a black cat in her arms.

Hard Rain - Doreen Betty White holding black cat and yelling at Minnie Driver with Richard Dysart

Hard Rain - Doreen Betty White holding black cat

Doreen mostly yells at her husband Henry who wants to help the kids.

Hard Rain - Doreen Betty White holding black cat with Minnie Driver, Christian Slater and Richard Dysart

Tom asks for help and Henry offers to lend them his boat, which sends Doreen yelling again.

Hard Rain - Doreen Betty White holding black cat standing over Tom Christian Slater

Usually Betty White is not this scary-looking!

Hard Rain - scary Doreen Betty White holding black cat and yelling at Tom Christian Slater

Final Mewsings: The cat would liked to have told Doreen to shut up, too.


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Thriller – “The Poisoner”

Thriller DVD

Original Air Date: January 10, 1961
Starring: Murray Matheson, Sarah Marshall, Jennifer Raine
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this episode!

Synopsis: Thomas Edward Griffith (Murray Matheson) is thrilled with his beautiful new wife Frances (Sarah Marshall) but not as much when his mother-in-law and sister-in-law unexpectedly move in and also turn out to be broke, leading him to murder.

Featured Feline: The cat featured in this episode is first scene being held by actress Jennifer Raine as Boris Karloff introduces the players.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Boris Karloff introducing actress Jennifer Raine holding orange tabby cat Hermione

When Frances’ mother Mrs. Abercrombie (Brenda Forbes) and sister Helen (Jennifer Raine) turn up, Helen is sickly and confined to a wheelchair.  In her lap is an orange tabby cat with a dark ribbon around her neck.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Mrs. Abercrombie Brenda Forbes with Helen Jennifer Raine holding orange tabby cat Hermione in wheelchair

The cat belongs to Frances and is named Hermione.  Frances takes Hermione from her sister and holds it as she talks to her husband, who grows more frustated upon learning the women and cat will be living with them.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Frances Sarah Marshall holding orange tabby cat Hermione with Mrs. Abercrombie

Thriller - The Poisoner - Frances Sarah Marshall holding orange tabby cat Hermione with Griffith Murray Matheson

Griffith snarls for Frances to get “that animal” out of there.  She insists the cat belongs to her and that Hermione and her family will stay.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Frances Sarah Marshall holding orange tabby cat Hermione with angry Griffith Murray Matheson

Griffith knocks over a statue as he is storming from the house and almost throws it at Mrs. Abercrombie but just throws it down and leaves.  The cat is calm throughout this entire scene.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Frances Sarah Marshall holding orange tabby cat Hermione with Mrs. Abercrombie Brenda Forbes and Helen Jennifer Raine

Hermione is later seen in Helen’s lap in her chair as she tries to spy on Griffith.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Helen Jennifer Raine holding orange tabby cat Hermoine in wheelchair looking through door

At one point Hermione is shut out of Helen’s room.

Thriller - The Poisoner - orange tabby cat Hermione shut out of room

Hermione sits on the railing over the stairway looking down on Griffith.  The mewing used in this segment sounds more like a kitten than a full-grown cat.

Thriller - The Poisoner - orange tabby cat Hermione on railing overlooking man at desk

Thriller - The Poisoner - orange tabby cat Hermione on railing

Kitty Carnage Warning!  When Griffith comes up the stairs, he angrily and very forcefully shoves Hermione off the railing.  The push is amplified by the sound of a cat crying out but whether or not there were wires attached to the cat actor to pull it off the railing or whether or not the actor actually pushed the cat that hard it is still an upsetting action.

Thriller - The Poisoner - Griffith Murray Matheson shoving orange tabby cat Hermione off railing

Unfortunately Hermione drinks some of the brandy Griffith has poisoned, giving Frances no doubt that her husband is a murderer.

Thriller - The Poisoner - orange tabby cat Hermione laying on ground next to spilled brandy

It’s very possible that the cat actor(s) in this episode is the Orangey team of cats.

Thriller - The Poisoner - orange tabby cat Hermione looking cute on railing

Final Mewsings: There’s a special place in Hell for men who shove cats!

Many thanks to Ted Davis for spotting this Television Tabby for us!


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