Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Cat People

Simone Simon stars in the Tourneur/Lewton frightfest Cat People from 1942. I'm teaching this today along with a first toe-dipping into Freudian theory. Old Siggy had a lot of hang-ups from his time and misapprehensions about human nature (as opposed to its particular manifestation during his particular and odd time) but there were enough astute observations in his work to keep its currency high even now.

The Lewton/Tourneur film makes much of its atmosphere. The oddly iconoclast Simon portrays the Serbian woman Irena who piques the interest of architect Oliver Reed (?!) despite her odd obsession with the panther in the zoo and her faith in the effects of an old Serbian curse which dictated that -- should she show the least interest in sex -- she will immediately turn into a ravening beast herself. The gorgeous cinematography and effective moodiness of the film make this a real pleasure to watch and the deft nature of it will keep you guessing up until the end about whether Simon's fears are real or not.

The remake with Malcolm McDowall and Nastasia Kinski is also fun. For the round up of Tuesday's Overlooked A/V, see Todd's blog.

7 comments:

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, the smug condescension of the Freudian in the film (and his rapaciousness) don't do him any favors, as it turns out.

So vastly better than the 1980s remake, even with the opportunity to enjoy the greater explicitness Paul Scrader and company were allowed (it is goofy fun, for the most part, and has a fine cast--the final scene of the remake is only partially intentionally hilarious, I think); I still haven't seen the 1960s version, known as CAT GIRL among other titles.

Todd Mason said...

And don't forget scripter DeWitt Bodeen, whose best film this is as well (it would be tough for this not to be a lot of people's best film)...his script for TWELVE TO THE MOON is goofy fun similarly to the Schrader remake.

K. A. Laity said...

Indeed, indeed! You just want her to turn on that smug, condescending know-it-all and rip his lungs out.

I enjoy the remake -- goofy but fun, indeed. And Bodeen, of course! Writing in haste, but there's little to dislike other than it should have had the real Oliver Reed (flown back in time by the Doctor, of course).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great movie!

K. A. Laity said...

I love and admire it all over again after teaching it today -- totally geeking out on the students, LOL! I think you could stop on any frame and have a bunch of things to say. The students were beginning to pick things up as we went along, too. More sophisticated already.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Tasty! Good call!

K. A. Laity said...

Hee, thanks Paul!