US Release Date: 03/02/1944
Directed by:Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise
Simone Simon in Curse of the Cat People.
This movie is a classic ghost story. It is a sequel to Cat People and one of the most unique sequels I've ever seen. After the death of his first wife Irena at the end of the first movie, Oliver Reed married Alice Moore and they had a daughter they named Amy. Amy is about 6 or 7 at the time this second movie takes place. She is a lonely young girl who seems to be ignored by her parents and doesn't get along with other kids her age. Instead Amy lives in her own fantasy world.
One day she chases after some neighborhood girls who refuse to play with her and she stumbles upon an old mansion. A woman's voice calls to her from an upstairs window. The woman then tosses a lace handkerchief with an ornate ring tied to it down to the little girl. Another woman then shows up and grabs the handkerchief out of the little girls' hand and the woman upstairs tells the girl to run away.
Later the little girl is visited by the ghost of her father's first wife. Only the girl has no idea who the woman is or even that she is a ghost at all. The entire mood of the story is one of eerie enchantment and it is shown almost entirely from the point of view of the girl. The two women (an old mother and her grown daughter) that the girl met at the mansion may or may not be witches. This is left to the audiences imagination. But the ring that the old woman gave the child seems to be the instrument that channels the ghost of Irena.
The black and white cinematography is visually stunning. Especially the scenes in the girls' backyard where she spends most of her time with the ghostly Irena. The Christmas sequence is particularly entrancing. The climax of the movie takes place at night during a snow storm. This movie does not spell everything out to the audience and like I said before it leaves some major plot points to the audiences imagination.
The only parts of the movie that don't work completely are the scenes with the girls' parents. Neither one is a great actor and their lines are delivered with stilted emotion. They are also not very attentive parents, but then the story wouldn't work otherwise.
The other characters are all interesting and wonderful by comparison. The ghost Irena being the most intriguing but the old woman lost in her theatrical memories, her bitter daughter, and the kind Jamaican butler, are all far more interesting than the girls' parents.
I highly recommend this 70 minute movie for anyone that likes enchanting and original filmmaking but who doesn't need everything wrapped up and explained in a neatly labeled package.
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Photos © Copyright RKO Radio Pictures (1944)