Thursday, March 4, 2010

Film #15: Cat People (1942)

Cougars are all the same.
They troll back alleys and other filth holes where young men lounge, rubbing up on the first tight leg they can find. A slinky “meow” here and a long stretch there, and soon that cougar is running the poor sucker's life. When the mood strikes the cougar, it will show some affection, curling up around the lap of its cub. But usually it just parades around the house hissing orders for Friskies Fine Cuts and pissing on the carpet.

She’ll soon get bored, and then things get ugly. When the last drop of soul is sucked from the poor boy's mouth, the cougar will quickly devour her cub in one fell gulp, spitting the tender bones aside into a pile of divorce papers. Then it’s back to the alley in search of another supple cub, the taste of the last still on her vicious tongue.

Correction, most cougars are all the same. Irena, lead in the 1942 movie Cat People, is a very tragic exception. First off, she is the rare young cougar, and thoroughly despises her fate.
An Eastern European import, Irena came to America to escape the old country and its demons. Friendless, Irena spends her days sketching a panther at her local zoo. But with a fetching puss, it isn’t long before litter Nazi and single man Oliver Reed takes notice.

After berating Irena for throwing her sketches on the ground, the two become fast friends, and even faster newlyweds. Oliver is so hot in the pants to get married that he doesn’t even flinch when Irena starts talking about how she comes from an evil Serbian village, where witches had cast spells turning humans into vicious beasts.
Irena believes that inside her lurks a cougar, and all it takes is one kiss to transform her from stylistic 1940s sex kitten into a killer cat!

Oliver is obviously a dumbass: it is one thing to marry someone who is utterly cat-shit bonkers, but to not even be able to kiss her without being killed for it – after the I-do’s? Crazy and no touches? Sure, sign that marriage certificate buddy, ya jackass.
Things get complicated when Oliver starts to fall for “modern” woman Alice, a slut who works at his office. Ladies in the workplace!? Stogy white men baring cigars and brandy tried to warn these problems would occur.

At first Alice and Oliver were just friends too, but Irena suspects Alice is trying to steal her man from the start and demands she stay away. I’ve heard of being catty, but geez Louise!
Irena learns of their eventual affair, and is sent into a rage. But will she turn into a blood-thirsty kitty and tear them to pieces, or just get shipped off to the nut-house to sit in her own cat-mess?
Watch the cat-fight unfold in the 1942 prowler “The Cat People.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews:

C-Rating: 2.7
Chris Dimick catcalls:
“Cat People made me purr. (Oh, how I love horrible puns.) But only that low kind of inside purr cats dish out when they are pissed at their masters, but can’t help feeling the jive of those hand strokes. Let’s face it, this flick was pretty ridiculous.

Movie, I have a few questions for you. Who the hell can “fall in love” with a woman after having a brief conversation about zoo animals? I know it is 1942 and every health guy was a mere Uncle Sam call away from having his giblets shot off by a ‘Kraut sniper, but one might want to actually date a lady for at least a day before “falling in love.” Also, what kind of dope asks a woman to marry him after two dates, one of which involved going to a pet shop where the animals completely go ape-shit at the sight of your beloved? And finally, what man would marry a woman who tells him upfront that she will uncontrollability and viciously murder him if they ever happen to kiss. Looks like someone was interested in growing a beard on his wedding day.

Fortunately, these plot-holes were patched with concrete directing and great use of shadow and lighting.
Cat People was filmed during World War II, and money was tight for producer Val Lewton. To combat this, most scenes that involved any sort of special effect were instead shot in the shadows, which greatly enhanced the suspense and imagination of the viewer trying to figure out if Irena is indeed a cat, or just a crazy kitty. Cat People is the first of several Val Lewton wartime movies to gain acclaim for their small budget and big impact.

While the plot alone is lame enough to leave you cat-atonic (yes!), the quick pace of the flick keeps the audience enticed. As do the ladies garments! As many know, Nick and I are supreme fashionistas, and just adore critiquing ladies modern-wear. Bryant Park is my second favorite place on earth, behind the shoe department at Nordstrom’s. Seriously world, I’d take a buttoned up 1940s era dress any day over a Victoria’s Secret panties of the month when it comes to sexy coverings. This film didn’t disappoint in its fashion, which had huge ladies hats, staunchly, tight ladies dresses, and even a naked shoulder scene that gave us a case of Cat Scratch Fever.

Women and men knew how to dress in the 1940s, at least in the movies. This film gets a 2.7 for the hot women’s dresses alone. Meow!"

N-Rating: 2.8
Nich Rich catcalls:
"This film had moxy! It was simple, fun and interesting enough to keep me distracted from wanting more from it than it had to give (which in my book is a plus) - AND it has a statue of a man on horseback skewering a cat with his sword!!!

What more could you ask for in a film? Plot you say? Well, yes I suppose one might get wrapped up in those details if they weren't distrac-ooo, did I mention all the pretty clothes? The ladies were always dressed to the nines and the fellas always looked amazingly dapper! Seriously, this movie made you want to live in the 1940's... well, except for that whole World War II incident... and the lower life expectancy... and the blatant racism... and the lack of Jimmy Johns, but you catch my meaning. I mean, who wouldn't want to live in a time where catch phrases actually make you look cool and you can smoke 'healthy' cigarettes in literally any situation!

The sleepwear was breathtaking and made me wish I could unearth a 1940's bathrobe like the one Irena had for my lovely bride (it made me want hunt down whoever invented sleep-pants and smack them firmly across the cheek). I doubt the robe was authentic, but it was so awesome it transcended my normal authenticity guidelines (no easy feat). Also, the hats (the best of which looked like a giant clam!) sprinkled throughout the film made me want to bat at the screen like a kitten on catnip!

This film was by no means scary, but was straight-up enjoyable to watch - there was always something to chuckle at or ogle. I highly recommend it for those who can't get enough of everything 1940's.
The Skinny: catch this flick if you feel like hosting a MST3K party at your house or if you have to cram for a fashion exam the next morning!"

Cat People Movie Trivia:
-Original trade reviews appeared Friday the 13, November 1942.
-The film was in theaters for so long that critics who had originally bashed the film were able to see it again and many rewrote their reviews with a more positive spin.
-Fifteen panthers were killed and eaten by the cast during the course of filming.
-When "The Cat Woman" (played, uncredited, by Elizabeth Russell) speaks to Irena in Serbian and calls her "my sister", but Russell's dialog is dubbed by Simone Simon, who played Irena.
-The zoo panther shown in the opening scene was later diagnosed with the first case of feline AIDS.
-The panther was Adolph Hitler’s favorite animal. In fact, he had the animal tattooed on his plum pouch.

RDHP presents: The Feline Hall of Fame
Below are some frisky critters the RDHP just can't get enough of.

(Who doesn't love the poor kid's Garfield)

Cat Stevens
(Oh what a crazy terrorist cat, man!)

Pussy Cat Dolls
(These felines were much better seen and not heard)

Plastic surgery Cat Woman
(Serves you right, you vain psycho!)

Felix the Cat
(Yeah, we've never seen one of his cartoons either)

Tiger Man
(If only our wives would get this procedure)

Mc Skat Kat
(Lets hope he doesn't stay true to his name)

Kitty Pyrde
(Not only the youngest X-man, but she finally said what we were all thinking)

John Mayer
(Oh, we're sorry, he's a pussy, not a cat)

RDHP Examine "Cougars"
What is up with all of these old, crusty women shacking up with young cats? We just don't get it. Check out all these predatory cougars hitting the town with whittle baby cubbies:

Mariah Carey/Nick Cannon
(Just because you date a 20-year-old doesn’t mean you can dress like a 20-year-old)

Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher
(Demi uses the time out corner when Ashton won’t put down his Twitter and come to the table for supper)

Laura Bush/George Bush
(One’s a grown woman, the other has the mental capacities of a 12-year-old)

Kathy Griffin and Levi Johnston
(Some individuals will do anything for fame. Others will do it together)

Madonna and Jesus Luz
(Every year her boyfriends just get younger and younger. What a peder-ass!)

Things the RDHP Learned from Watching Cat People:
-If attacked by a cougar, swim to the center of the nearest swimming pool. Cats hate water
-Office sluts were just as slutty in 1942
-“You crazy kid” is 1940s slang for “You stupid beyotch”
-Cats can sense who is “not right”
-Chicks dig lion roars, it reminds them of sea shell sounds
-Don’t ever marry a woman who won’t kiss you
-When in immanent danger, don't forget to turn off the drafting tables before fleeing
-Keeping a kitten in a shoebox is totally humane if you punch holes in the lid

Random Corner:
Hey, they got cat class, and they got cat style. They also get their dinner from a garbage can... somehow we feel that line is especially true today.

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