Dewitt Bodeen

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Cat People (1942) Review


Very Good
Long before Nastassja Kinski went catty on us in 1982's Cat People, this Val Lewton original subtly scared the bejesus out of people with its tale of a woman (Simone Simon) who believes she suffers from a curse that can cause her to turn into a panther. Her husband doesn't really buy it, so he sends her to the head shrink... which doesn't really help. Moody and intense, the film is hardly a gore-fest, and the body count is minimal. But the way it messes with your head -- and Jacques Tourneur's deft ability behind the camera -- make it quite the '40s standout.

Continue reading: Cat People (1942) Review

The Curse Of The Cat People Review


Weak
This rather silly follow-up to Cat People isn't so much unwatchable as it is merely unnecessary. For starters it's got nothing really to do with the original, focusing on the daughter, Amy, of the heroine from the original. Amy is hallucinating and dreams up an imaginary friend or two: Dad's dead first wife. There's really nothing in here that has to do with cat people, but allegedly the film was used in college psychology classes to study disturbed children. Of course, if that's any benchmark, you should see some of the movies they made me watch in school....

Continue reading: The Curse Of The Cat People Review

The Seventh Victim Review


Very Good
Best known for its "pre-Psycho" shower scene, this mid-career Val Lewton horror film has Kim Hunter in search of her missing sister (Jean Brooks), who has unfortunately fallen in with a bunch of devil worshippers. (This may explain why she has a goth haircut now.) Foreboding and creepy, it's not a traditional slasher flick, and there's no gore to speak of. Rather, it's a very well-made psychological thriller (before such a term even existed) filled with good performances.

Aka The 7th Victim.

Continue reading: The Seventh Victim Review

Cat People (1942) Review


Very Good
Long before Nastassja Kinski went catty on us in 1982's Cat People, this Val Lewton original subtly scared the bejesus out of people with its tale of a woman (Simone Simon) who believes she suffers from a curse that can cause her to turn into a panther. Her husband doesn't really buy it, so he sends her to the head shrink... which doesn't really help. Moody and intense, the film is hardly a gore-fest, and the body count is minimal. But the way it messes with your head -- and Jacques Tourneur's deft ability behind the camera -- make it quite the '40s standout.

Continue reading: Cat People (1942) Review

The Curse Of The Cat People Review


Weak
This rather silly follow-up to Cat People isn't so much unwatchable as it is merely unnecessary. For starters it's got nothing really to do with the original, focusing on the daughter, Amy, of the heroine from the original. Amy is hallucinating and dreams up an imaginary friend or two: Dad's dead first wife. There's really nothing in here that has to do with cat people, but allegedly the film was used in college psychology classes to study disturbed children. Of course, if that's any benchmark, you should see some of the movies they made me watch in school....

Continue reading: The Curse Of The Cat People Review

The Seventh Victim Review


Very Good
Best known for its "pre-Psycho" shower scene, this mid-career Val Lewton horror film has Kim Hunter in search of her missing sister (Jean Brooks), who has unfortunately fallen in with a bunch of devil worshippers. (This may explain why she has a goth haircut now.) Foreboding and creepy, it's not a traditional slasher flick, and there's no gore to speak of. Rather, it's a very well-made psychological thriller (before such a term even existed) filled with good performances.

Aka The 7th Victim.

Continue reading: The Seventh Victim Review

I Remember Mama Review


Excellent
A sentimental but well-intentioned portrait of an immigrant family, I Remember Mama is an oddity for Hollywood -- very slow, almost entirely lacking in dramatic punch, but surprisingly realistic. Martha Hanson (Irene Dunne) is the center of a Norwegian-American family in early 20th century San Francisco. (The row houses are still standing, but no one who lives in them has to count pennies.) The story is narrated by a daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes) who worshipfully portrays her mother through her own somewhat selfish lens, but allows us to see her mother as she is: uneducated, strong, simple, forthright, and content. Like so many immigrants, Mama unsentimentally embraces her new country and raises her children as acculturated Americans, without changing herself.

The role was a stretch for Irene Dunne, usually a comedienne who teamed with Cary Grant, among others, in screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s (The Awful Truth, etc.). Unfortunately, the film signaled her retirement rather than a new beginning.

Continue reading: I Remember Mama Review

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