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Cat and the Canary [Import]

 NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 27.49
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Cat and the Canary [Import] + Old Dark House (1932) [Import]
Price For Both: CDN$ 56.77

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Product Description


German horror stylist Paul Leni (Variety) brings his expressionist flourishes to this compendium of haunted clichés, creating one of the most stylish horror movie spoofs ever, a delightful mix of the gothic and the goofy. A greedy bunch of gargoyle-looking relatives (and a pair of young innocents) gather for the reading of a rich uncle's will, which demands that they spend the night in the creepy old mansion. Leni puts them through a fun house of frights: As if secret panels, clutching hands, and a stopped clock that mysteriously comes to life weren't enough, an escaped lunatic from a nearby asylum who rends his victims with catlike claws may have infiltrated the house. Silent movie sweetheart Laura La Plante is the canary of the title, a lovely would-be heiress who becomes the target of plotting relatives, but it's the rogues gallery of suspects that adds the color and comic relief. Leni kicks the film off with a delirious scene of an infirm old man surrounded by gigantic bottles of medicine and menaced by a snarling, spitting. gargantuan cat. The rest of the film is played in lower key, for laughs as much as chills, but it never loses its moody ambiance, highlighted by elegant camerawork and looming shadows. This classic has been remade three times, most famously by Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard in 1939, but never as well. The hilarious Harold Lloyd short Haunted Spooks has been included as a DVD bonus. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent movie, loud screams of laughter June 29 2004
By C. Ford
The Cat and the Canary (1927) is of interest not just from the historic perspective of expressionist film making, but also for just sheer fun.
This is not a movie for everyone. People who need special effects that leave nothing to the imagination, sound systems that capture every bullet casing hitting the floor or editing to hold those with short attention spans should not buy this movie. Well, they should, but they won't and they wouldn't enjoy it if they did.
For those who grew up watching Chiller Theater on Friday nights, this is a great movie to turn the lights down, prop the popcorn bowl on the knee, crack open a cold frosty and sit back for a pleasant evening.
The Cat and the Canary is just plain fun to watch. The hero doodling as the lawyer drones on is worth the price of the DVD alone. It's also amazing to see how silent actors and actresses can convey so much with a raised brow or a dimpled smile than many of today's Hollywood stars can with reams of scripts to read.
The Harold Lloyd short also is another pleasant haunted house comedy that develops at a leisurely pace like a stroll through a park that builds into a madcap dash.
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4.0 out of 5 stars When The Cat's Away The Canaries Come Out To Play Jan. 31 2004
Ask some young film students or filmbuffs to name what they think are some of the most influential early films of cinema. Chances are you'll hear "Birth of A Nation", "Battleship Potemkin" and "Citizen Kane", but, I'd like to elect one more film to that list Paul Leni's "The Cat and the Canary".
"The Cat and the Canary" originally started off as a Broadway play in 1922 and was made into (as far as I know) three films. The most famous being the 1939 adaptation starring Bob Hope. But this 1927 version just dazzles you with its techinal achievements. It has inspiring cinematography by Gilbert Warrenton and remarkable editing from Martin G. Cohn. There are plenty of shots I'm willing to bet were ahead of their time, mostly dealing with fade in's and out's.
If you were to ask me, is this movie scary? I would have to answer no. "The Cat and the Canary" is just too dated to scare anyone. We've seen this far too many times for it to give us "thrills and chills", but, what makes this movie so entertaining to watch is it is an exercise in style and atmosphere. It is the cinematography and the mood the film creates that will capture your attention. This film set-up what we now refer to as "haunted house" movies.
Paul Leni, for those who don't know is revered as one of the great German expressionist through such films as "The Man Who Laughs" and "Waxworks". And these three films are seen as the last of there kind.
"The Cat and the Canary" as I said help establish what we now refer to as "haunted house" movies. The plot revolves around the death of Cyrus West, a millionair who's relatives hounded him like cats around a canary (hence the title). His will, as ordered by him, will be opened twenty years after his death.
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This silent film may rank high among those that are written about far more often than anybody ever sees them. THE CAT AND THE CANARY is well worth the wait - in my case, it's been about 40 years between first reading a glowing account of the film and finally viewing it. And I wasn't disappointed. Of course, it requires a certain suspension of disbelief and I wondered why it was necessary to explain away everything as having a natural, and not supernatural, origin. Still, the film is great fun - sort of like going to a Halloween party.
Paul Leni's expressionistic directing does wonders with the story although its stage origins are apparent. Had Leni not died in 1929, I wonder what he might have done with DRACULA as early Universal publicity claimed he would direct it.
The DVD contains a great bonus of an early Harold Lloyd short, HAUNTED SPOOKS, from 1920. Consistently inventive, this film is chilling on its own terms because Lloyd lost the thumb and index finger of his right hand during the filming. He was posing for publicity photos and was holding a lighted but supposedly dud bomb. It went off. Despite his hospitalization and the obvious trauma he suffered, Lloyd was back at work on HAUNTED SPOOKS within a few weeks, wearing a flesh-colored glove on his right hand with a prosthetic thumb and finger. It's interesting to compare footage that is clearly "before and after" based on how he uses his right hand. This tragedy didn't stop Lloyd from making this film into a top comedy or from going on to be a star of feature films, enjoying a popularity that was second only to Charlie Chaplin. Now that's REAL determination!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unsuspecting Audience Is the Real Canary! Sept. 29 2000
This fascinating and suspenseful tale of melancholy blends top notch camera work with quintessential serendipity. A group of mostly greedy family members gather at midnight for the reading of a will that should pay real dividends, but only for one. And this will features a very personal touch from the dearly departed! There are bumps in the night galore, wickedly funny thrills, and even a booby hatch or two. And, oh, by the way, it doesn't help much that a deranged lunatic is at large (IN THE HOUSE)! Still, by today's standards it might be a little too silent and gloomy if not for a well chosen stereo sound track. This is unequivocally the best version of "The Cat and the Canary" despite not being the most popular. It is also the oldest. Now on a personal note: Many moons ago, several long departed family members of mine were subjected to a highly regarded and nightmarish silent movie that remained ever so present in their delicate minds. But the memories were fresh enough to provoke an occasional mentioning, usually in hushed tones. This was a film they had viewed in their formative years on a Saturday afternoon, inside a smallish structure located within the boundaries of the home town park. As young children, they remembered a person called "the narrator" reading horrific subtitles as a conspicuous and repugnant hand (a hand that makes "Thing" of "The Addams Family" look like a stool pigeon!) was prominently displayed in the backdrop behind unsuspecting victims. The capacity of the human mind to recall can be both a blessing and a curse--Certainly cruel and unusual punishmnent to these innocent children whose fragility had been exposed by a talented but unknowing director named Paul Leni. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a nifty haunty look and feel to the entire film
It's interesting to see this type of film evolve over time. It's a mystery in a spooky house revolving around an inheritance and I wont say any more about the about plot. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rick M. Pilotte
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
If you enjoy old movies, don't miss this one! Beautiful production, great acting. Watching it was time well spent. Run, don't walk!
Published 14 months ago by Dorothee Harmon
5.0 out of 5 stars An old millionaire is about to shuffle off this mortal coil.
suspects he is being threatened to help make him crazy. His relatives have her around him my cats watching a canary. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2010 by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Restoration Of This Silent Thriller
DVD releases of old silent films have tended to enjoy mixed fortunes - certain releases of 'Metropolis' and 'The Lodger' have received shockingly bad treatment. Read more
Published on July 16 2000 by Jesmat
3.0 out of 5 stars Old thriller
I first saw this as a child and have never forgotten the thrill and fright. By todays standards it is probably a little hokey but it was fun to again see after so many years and... Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999 by Fred S. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Chiller-Diller Masterpiece!
Okay, so this is one of those ancient SILENT flicks, made back in that prehistoric year of l927. But I can promise you, anyone watching The Cat and the Canary today will not be... Read more
Published on Oct. 27 1999
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