Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dennis O'Keefe, Jean Brooks, Margo, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Abner Biberman, Tula Parma, Ben Bard
Written by: Ardel Wray, Edward Dein, based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 66
Date: 05/07/1943

The Leopard Man (1943)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Big Cat Trouble

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on Cornell Woolrich's novel Black Alibi, The Leopard Man comes with one of the cinema's most shocking murder scenes, with barely anything actually shown. Dennis O'Keefe as Jerry Manning, who rents a leopard to be used as a publicity stunt for his New Mexico nightclub singer girlfriend Kiki (Jean Brooks). Unfortunately, the leopard escapes, and several people are subsequently mauled to death. But the leopard's owner insists that his animal is not responsible. Jacques Tourneur directed this, his third of three films for producer Val Lewton, and it's generally considered the least, even though it's quite masterful in its own right, with a very vivid sense of place. It confidently takes its time, veering away from the center of the story to set up the lives of the victims, so that their deaths have an impact. In 2019, Shout! Factory released the film on a wonderful Blu-ray edition, with a commentary track by film historian Constantine Nasr, as well as William Friedkin's enjoyable commentary, recorded for the DVD version. We also get stills and a trailer.

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