Criterion Critics

Cat People (1942) Criterion Review

Episode #11

Cat People (1942)RKO Radio Pictures released Cat People to theaters on December 25, 1942. Jacques Tourneur directed the film starring Simone Simon, Tom Conway, and Kent Smith. Listen you our film review here.

‘Cat People’ Criterion Summary

The first of the horror films producer Val Lewton made for RKO Pictures redefined the genre by leaving its most frightening terrors to its audience’s imagination. Simone Simon stars as a Serbian émigré in Manhattan who believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves (Kent Smith) will turn her into a feline predator. Lewton, a consummate producer-auteur who oversaw every aspect of his projects, found an ideal director in Jacques Tourneur, a chiaroscuro stylist adept at keeping viewers off-kilter with startling compositions and psychological innuendo. Together, they eschewed the canned effects of earlier monster movies in favor of shocking with subtle shadows and creative audio cues. One of the studio’s most successful movies of the 1940s, Cat People raised the creature feature to new heights of sophistication and mystery. Read the full movie summary here.

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film historian Gregory Mank, with excerpts from an audio interview with actor Simone Simon
  • Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a 2008 feature-length documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary Hollywood producer
  • Interview with director Jacques Tourneur from 1979
  • New interview with cinematographer John Bailey about the look of the film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

New cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

Add the film to your collection today!

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Our Rating

RKO Radio Pictures released Cat People to theaters on December 25, 1942. Jacques Tourneur directed the film starring Simone Simon, Tom Conway, and Kent Smith.

User Rating: 4.08 ( 2 votes)
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