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The Black Cat (1941)

Elderly Henrietta Winslow lives in an isolated mansion with her housekeeper and beloved cats. As her health fails, her greedy relatives gather in anticipation of her death.

Director:

Albert S. Rogell
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Basil Rathbone ... Montague Hartley
Hugh Herbert ... Mr. Penny
Broderick Crawford ... Hubert A. Gilmore 'Gil' Smith
Bela Lugosi ... Eduardo Vigos
Anne Gwynne ... Elaine Winslow
Gladys Cooper ... Myrna Hartley
Gale Sondergaard ... Abigail Doone
Cecilia Loftus ... Henrietta Winslow
Claire Dodd ... Margaret Gordon
John Eldredge ... Stanley Borden
Alan Ladd ... Richard Hartley
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Storyline

Greedy heirs gather to wait for the death of Henrietta Winslow. Murder, thunder claps, howling cats, gun shots, screams in the night, hidden passages -- all the proper ingredients. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Even Ladd Is Scared!

Genres:

Comedy | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 May 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gato negro See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$176,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Orson Welles saw "The Black Cat" and was so impressed by cinematographer Stanley Cortez's atmospheric lighting and angling that he hired Cortez to photograph The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) which is also set largely inside a Victorian-era mansion. See more »

Quotes

Elaine Winslow: Were you insinuating that Grandmother's death wasn't accidental?
Hubert Smith: Well, she wasn't killed by kindness, was she?
See more »

Connections

Version of Griezelverhalen (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE BLACK CAT (Albert S. Rogell, 1941) **1/2
1 April 2009 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Given one of the most abused titles in cinema history (innumerable films were supposedly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story but few, if any, bothered to be faithful to it), the plot of this one could go in any direction. Universal had already used the title for one of its most stylish (and potent) horror offerings in 1934, so the 'remake' tried something entirely different: an old dark house comedy-chiller on the lines of THE CAT AND THE CANARY (itself brought to the screen several times, the most recent up to that time emanating from 1939). As always with this kind of film, we get a plethora of characters brought together for the hearing of a will and then starting to die violently one by one; the cast is notable and eclectic – including two horror stars (Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi: the latter was also in the earlier version, where his role was far more substantial), whereas the comedy is supplied by Broderick Crawford (proving surprisingly adept and likably accident-prone!) and the insufferable Hugh Herbert. Of course, there is a damsel-in-distress (pretty Anne Gwynne, also serving as Crawford's love interest) being invariably the one to receive the lion's share of the fortune possessed by the dotty (and cat-loving) owner of the estate; also on hand are Gale Sondergaard (as the sinister housekeeper, a virtual reprise of her role in the aforementioned version of THE CAT AND THE CANARY) and Gladys Cooper and Alan Ladd(!) as mother and son (the former is married to Rathbone, but he carries on an affair with another relative present). Being definitely a B-movie, the film is best compared to similarly modest ventures in this vein: even so, not involving recognizable comics (such as THE GORILLA [1939] did with The Ritz Brothers) or a horrific figure (a' la NIGHT MONSTER [1942]) – both films, incidentally, feature Bela Lugosi in an almost identical (and equally thankless) part – the film ends up not satisfying anyone…even if it is harmless enough as entertainment, the eerie atmosphere well up to par and the identity of the villain (who perishes flamboyantly in a blaze) a genuine surprise.


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