"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Here, kitty, kitty

I do like to drag out ye olde tyme frights near All Hallow's Eve. Yes, this is how ancient I feel, resorting to the original Frankenstein, Alfred Hitchcock, even Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy to get my scares.

I've shown you the trailer for The Cat People (1942) before, but here's one of the creepier scenes.

I used to watch this and get chills. Now I'm thinking about the story. A young woman morphs into a black panther whenever her libido is aroused. She is both confused and terrified of what she is, and seeks help. Unfortunately, let's just call her therapist a bad choice.

It seems like a wonder that this film was made at all. A man named DeWitt Bodeen wrote the script for a title and subject that were imposed upon him by the RKO Studio chief Charles Koerner. Val Lewton was the producer, who had been hired by RKO to produce movies as quickly and cheaply possible. The film came in ahead of schedule and for less than its $150,000 budget.

The movie was panned by critics, but it was a box-office hit. It was also in the theaters for such a long time, its original critics had a chance to revisit and publish more favorable reviews.

I like this, because it shows the tenacity of a writer to work within a demanding system, and make lemonade from lemons.

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