Night #10: The Black Cat (1941)


It looks like it’s been raining cats and cats around here.”

Directed By: Albert S. Rogell

This happens sometimes. As we saw with The Mummy, I’ll end up finding another movie with the same name, possibly a remake, and then just go with it. Thankfully this time around a cat features a little more prominently, though it doesn’t reach the delirious heights (casual cat murder) of the previous nights viewing.

It does feature Bela Lugosi however, looking a little worse for wear than he did just 10 years before. That could actually be the make up, but who knows. This time around he has a relatively minor role as the groundskeeper of a mansion that’s owned by a matriarch named Henrietta Winslow. Miss Winslow is on her deathbed and so her family have gathered in wait for the final hours, not least of all because they all want her estate.

Miss Winslow also happens to be fond of cats. Dozens of them in fact. And yes there’s a black one there somewhere. Anyway, the old lady appears and decides to put everyone’s mind at ease by reading out her will. There’s of course disappointment all around, not at least from Basil Rathbone, who has already made arrangements to sell everything.

From there the fun starts. Someone tries to off the old lady but poisons one of the cats by accident. She seems to take this in her stride, which probably tells you all you need to know about this family. There is another clause however, in that no one gets anything until all of the cats are dead.

In all fairness it’s actually a pretty good setup and the movie largely delivers on it. There’s secret passages, murder, clandestine scheming, extremely poor comic relief and a thunderstorm, what else could you want?

Well for a starter that comic relief has to go. As bad as the comedy is in something like The Last House On The Left is, at least it provides respite from the horror that’s on screen (complete with comedy music). Here it’s just obnoxious. The movie is already darkly funny, it doesn’t need a bumbling fool walking around as well.

Ultimately the mystery kind of works. It make sense for a start, which is always important in a mystery. I will say that I was fooled mostly, though there is one scene that completely stood out. The movie seems to point clearly towards someone for most of it, but then pulls that back towards the end. I would imagine that this would make a pretty good stage play, if you ditch the comic relief that is.

This is again a loose ‘adaptation’ of the Poe story, and while it’s largely completely unrelated, the villain in here is essentially undone the same way that villain is in Poe’s story. Still, I suppose something is better than nothing.


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