- Actors: Laura LaPlante, Creighton Hale, Lucien Littlefield
- Directors: Paul Leni
- Format: Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: All RegionsAll Regions
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Alpha Video
- Release Date: March 23 2004
- Run Time: 90 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0000D1FHM
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,963 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
The Cat and the Canary
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This vintage terror tale remains a frightening cinematic classic and blueprint for all haunted house thrillers.
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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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