Turner Classic Movies
Cat and the Canary, The, DVD
Written by Mariyln Forstot   

cat_and_the_canary-poster_-200.jpgIn The Cat and the Canary (1939) Bob Hope is teamed with Paulette Goddard in a spooky, haunted house mystery/comedy. The little kids will enjoy it for the scariness, the adults will relish the laughs. What makes this film stand out is the clever one-liners tossed out by Hope, and the silly antics that no one should take very seriously. One minute one of the women is screaming her head off, the next she's going into the basement with Wally to make sure the windows are locked. The Cat and the Canary also stars George Zucco, John Beal, Gale Sondergaard and Douglass Montgomery.

Bob Hope, Douglas Montgomery, Pauline Goddard, John Beal

Deep in Louisiana's Bayou is the haunted mansion Cyrus Norman left behind when he died 10 years earlier. His heirs have gathered in the house on the anniversary of his death to hear the reading of his will and find out who will inherit all his wealth. The lucky winner turns out to be Joyce Norman (Goddard) because she's the only one of his heirs who bares the name Norman. Just in case she goes crazy (an insanity streak runs through the family), there's a second will. Only the lawyer, Mr. Cosby (Zucco) knows who the alternate heir is, but he's not telling because he soon falls victim to . . . well, we don't know who killed him, but he's certainly dead.

Wally Campbell (Hope) promises to watch over Joyce to make sure nothing happens to her. A hard promise to keep because there are secret passageways, eyes moving behind paintings, a homicidal maniac who escaped from the local insane asylum on the loose, and the alternate heir out to drive the new heiress crazy - or kill her! And to add to the tension, Miss Lu (Sondergaard), the housekeeper, is at her spooky best, offering dire warnings in a menacing voice: "There are eight people in this room. One will die before morning." Shudder.

The Cat and the Canary, a remake of the 1927 film of the same name (and which was remade again in 1978) , is your typical haunted house story. The atmosphere is thick with menace. The guests cannot leave until morning. Bookcases swing around when no one seems to be watching. Disembodied hands poke from the walls. And dead bodies drop out of closets.

A friend of mine was excited to see this film after about 70 years. He remembers as a little boy being so frightened, he held on to the seatback in front of him for dear life. He said the film didn't scare him this time, but he thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Cat and the Canary is one of the six classic comedies starring Bob Hope in the   Thanks for the Memories Collection. The other films are Thanks for the Memory, The Ghost Breakers, Nothing But the Truth, Road to Morocco, The Paleface. This collection that provides several hours of family entertainment.

Director: Elliott Nugent

Screenplay: Walter deLeon, Lynn Starling, based on a play by John Willard

Cast:   Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, John Beal, Gale Sondergaard, George Zucco, Douglass Montgomery  

Rating: Unrated. Suitable for the whole family. Younger children my find it too scary.

Classic Movie Guide Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

DVD Release Date: 6/28/2010

Run Time:   79 minutes

Studio:   Paramount Pictures

Format:   black & white, full frame

Photo credits: Paramount Pictures




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