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With: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Ann Carter, Eve March, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Erford Gage, Sir Lancelot
Written by: DeWitt Bodeen
Directed by: Robert Wise, Gunther von Fritsch
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 70
Date: 02/03/1944

The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy The Curse of the Cat People on DVD

Robert Wise made his directorial debut on this Val Lewton-produced sequel, taking over for the too-slow Gunther von Fritsch, and the result is a remarkable and hauntingly magical experience. Oliver (Kent Smith) and Alice (Jane Randolph) return from the original Cat People, now married and with a daughter, Amy (Ann Carter). A strange, thoughtful child with no friends, she begins speaking to an imaginary playmate in the backyard. Oddly, it turns out to be Irena (Simone Simon), Oliver's late first wife and the supposed "cat person" of the title. Amy also befriends an aging and cranky old actress (Julia Farren) squirreled away in an old mansion (shades of Sunset Boulevard), making the actress's grown daughter (Barbara Farren) jealous. There is no "curse," here, though, as Amy very simply learns to navigate the dark pitfalls of adult reality. Indeed, rather than a horror film, The Curse of the Cat People is more a lovely family story cleverly couched in psychology. It might even make an ideal holiday classic, since one powerful scene takes place at Christmas. This film inspired one of the great film critic James Agee's most enthusiastic reviews ("I arch my back and purr my deep-throated approval..."). Farren appeared briefly in the original film as a potential "cat person," but the role she plays here has no relation to the earlier one; Lewton simply had a limited stable of actors to choose from.

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