This is the first film review I've made on this blog She Wolf Night. I haven't done any movie/TV reviews before anywhere either and it's to be my first published one.
"Cat People" made in 1942 is the subject of this day. Starring Simone Simon who plays the lead character, Irena Dubrovna, who is a fashion designer and a shapeshifter. She encounters a charming gentleman Oliver (played by Kent Smith) at the zoo and they hit it off really well. So far the introduction features images of cats or mainly panthers. Irena is at the zoo, drawing a still life panther. They become very close and Oliver is drawn to Irena and she is nocturnal in nature. She enjoys the dark. In her apartment is a statuette of a Medieval king with an impaled cat on his sword. Later Irena witnesses the king appearing to her in a dream about cats. The symbol of impaled cats throughout the film, and linking swords with keys (there is a significant key to the panther's cage at the zoo). Irena tells Oliver about the story of the king and much of this relates to witchcraft. They eventually marry and Irena meets Oliver's best friend and colleague Alice (Jane Randolph) during their wedding. At the wedding dinner reception, a mysterious woman with catlike features approaches Irena and tells her that she is one of them.
Irena is unable to show affection towards her husband, especially someone she loves, in fear that it may have terrible consequences. For that she denies intimacy and warmth. Oliver seeks a psychiatrist to help Irena and then he spends more time with his friend Alice. The plot begins like a romance story with a tension but soon it becomes clear that something else is going on, and Irena is behaving strange and the viewer cannot identify with her anylonger. She makes nuisance calls to Alice and then begins stalking her husband's friend. One of the most frightening scenes of the film, which I found chilling, was at the swimming pool where Alice is frightened by an unseen creature.
The psychiatrist Dr. Judd (played by Tom Conway) becomes almost a similar figure to Van Helsing. He talks of believing there is more to Irena than just a mere illness. Once things unfold and everyone is aware of the supernatural dangers about a large cat, Dr Judd mentions using "silver" against any attack.
This is one of the best horror films in my list and it's probably one of the classy shapeshifter movies that has been made so far.
More about "Cat People" the original...
Cat People at Filmsite
Film "Cat People" (1942) at Rotten Tomatoes
Classic Horror on "Cat People"
Oh and the name Irena Dubovna was used by Cat Woman character of the comic books.
There is a sequal "Curse of the Cat People" (1944).