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