Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Black Cat

(1941) **

Old, bitchy Henrietta Winslow is bedridden and as The Black Cat begins we find her speaking to her doctor about her most recent medical scare. Surrounding her are her many cats (yep, she’s one of those weirdos). Downstairs her greedy heirs are circling like vultures around a gazelle hoping for her demise so they can get their mitts on their inheritance. Unfortunately for them she fully recovers and walking downstairs she gleefully informs them that she’s fine and that they wasted their time traveling to her home. In order to take the mystery out of her will, however, she agrees to read it out loud so they know exactly what they’re getting. To the surprise and pleasure of all, the will turns out to be quite generous. Revealing the contents of her will proves to be Henrietta’s undoing, however, because soon after she is murdered by someone eager to get their hands on their inheritance. Yet as it turns out, there was a clause in Henrietta’s will that was overlooked. The old bitch decreed that no one would receive any inheritance until all of her numerous cats have died. Of course my first thought was, “wouldn’t all the heirs immediately agree to catacide?” but that’s just me. She further decrees that her faithful housekeeper remain in charge until the last cat expires.

Am I the killer?

The body count begins mounting and the killer could be any one of the quirky heirs. Is it the creepy caretaker who often peers through the windows? Could it be selfish nephew? The housekeeper? The Black Cat follows the same basic formula as Agatha Christie’s 10 Little Indians whereby one-by-one people are picked off in a creepy setting until the real killer is revealed. It’s played for laughs more than anything else, but it has a terrific cast including Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone. This is one of those low budget Universal films that’s light on “scares” but fun nonetheless.

I wouldn’t want to wake up in a coffin with a black cat sitting next to me.


DCD said...

I read a ton of Agatha Christie growing up, "And Then There Were None" was one of my faves.

This sounds fun!

JPX said...

Yeah I've been really digging those old Universal films!