Story by Edgar Allan Poe
Written by Robert Lees, Robert Neville, Frederic I. Rinaldo & Eric Taylor
Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Plot: The wealthy Elaine Winslow is a recluse who lives in an old mansion with her cats. Now that she is near death, her relatives begin to gather in an anticipation of their inheritance. Of course, murder soon follows with all of the usual old dark house trappings.
Personal Thoughts: As far as old dark house films go, The Black Cat is a lot of fun. Along with secret passages and murder, you have the addition of a cat crematorium. Instead of reporters, you have bungling real estate men. The humor gets a little annoying at times but it’s in small enough doses. Basil Rathbone does what he does best but adds only a little to the story. Gale Sondergaard turns in a great performance. And Bela? He’s totally wasted here and its obvious Universal only viewed him as a supporting character by this point. He’s creepy as the gardener with lots of leering through windows and around corners. But with only a handful of lines, it’s easy to forget he’s even in the movie. Well worth watching but don’t expect much from Lugosi.
- Universal’s second attempt at adapting the classic Poe tale, although this one is much lighter fare than the original in 1934.
- Broderick Crawford and Basil Rathbone were last minute casting changes, causing a delay in production.
- The cat meows were actually human not feline.