Saturday, November 30, 2019
The Black Cat (1941)
At the ancient = household, elderly Henrietta = is in ill health. Her relatives are all eager = waiting for her to croak, so they can pounce on her money and sell the property, to the point where two = have even been called over before the woman's died ============
Unrelated to the 1934 film The Black Cat, starring Bela Lugosi, The Black Cat is a 1941 film with Bela Lugosi. Completely different, see?
Far from being the insane creepfest the other film bearing this title is, and totally unrelated to the Edgar Allan Poe story, The Black Cat is a typical old dark house movie, and it gets the job done well. All the old cliches are here, but are presented well enough that you don't mind any cliched moments or characters.
The cast are what make or break a movie like this, and on a shifty front, it succeeds. You suspect everyone here, and there are a few who you're sure have to be the killer. This keeps you on your toes! Where it gets a bit frustrating though is how everyone treats the protagonist. We spend the whole movie] watching the only one who actually thinks there's been a murder constantly being yelled at for thinking =, all the while they =, get crtiticised more, and =.
While this film is dripping in atmosphere, it's pretty light on full-on scares, which is to be expected for a = picture . It gets shockingly ghoulish in the finale though, given what almost happens to Elaine/the love interest! And the fate of the villain/killer is pretty = too!
the comedy relief duo, Henrietta, Abigail, Eduardo, and at least five family members!
is that at first he just seemed like the straight man of a comic relief duo, but ends up graduating to lead character, complete with love interest!
is =, in a negative way. I wouldn't go as far as to say she's a spoilt bitch, but she's also not entirely likeable either, especially with her constant nagging = for thinking there's skulduggery afoot
The acting here is all pretty decent, with Although some deliveries are worse than others, like a completely blase delivery of "Oh, we're too late, she's dead.". Broderick Crawford is interesting in that in any other film he'd be the = comedy relief next to Hugh Herbert or some such actor, and he delivers his performance as if he was, yet he gets the most to do. He's the main protagonist, even if he does get a lot of comic moments throughout.
Basil Rathbone is alright, but not in top form I felt. His performance here is akin to that in Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, but younger and less annoyed. Gale Sondergaard is while Anne Gwynne is = as the love interest and 'nice' member of the family. Cecilia Loftus makes the most of her small role,
Hugh Herbert is seen by some as annoying here, but I find him a lovable enough goof. He has a nice presence, even though I wanted to slap him for all the antique damage he perpetrates throughout the film! One legitimate problem with his character however is how often he'll interrupt or talk over the main cast. On one hand it's a little annoying when his goofing interrupts serious exposition, but on the other hand, the plot is pretty inane, and these family members an [irritating] bunch, so I can't begrudge their being shut up too much. I've half a mind to give Hugh Herbert a medal!
Lastly, there's the great Bela Lugoisi!...You'll notice I only mentioned him again just now, and there's sadly a reason for that. This picture came in the period when A-pictures had lost interest in Lugosi. After typecasting him, they didn't want him anymore, even for roles in the wheelhouses they stuck him in, and so you'd have films like this where he plays pretty minimal parts. It was really only in the B-movies that Lugosi was able to shine.
The location in The Black Cat is very good. We get a lush mansion, dusty catacombs, secret passageways, and creepy crypts. It all adds to the atmosphere wonderfully
The Black Cat might not be as good as The Black Cat, but it's a pretty satisfactory time to be had despite all its flaws. Don't go expecting Bela to do what he's known for, and you won't be too disappointed.