Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1944. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen. Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Produced by Val Lewton. Music by Roy Webb. Production Design by Albert S. D’Agostino, Walter E. Keller. Costume Design by Edward Stevenson. Film Editing by J.R. Whittredge.
The studio pushed producer Val Lewton for a sequel to the surprise hit Cat People, and as he had no interest in providing one instead put a misleading title on what is actually a lovely supernatural story about a girl dealing with social isolation. Its mere thread connecting it to Jacques Tourneur’s original is that the couple who got together at the end of the first film are now raising their daughter while trying not to focus on the subject of the father’s late wife (Simone Simon). Little Amy (Ann Carter, in a remarkably good performance) runs into a spooky old house where she is given a ring by a mysterious old lady; she treats it like a wishing charm and asks it for a friend, after which Simon appears to provide companionship. What the connection is between the old woman and Simon is never explained, nor is there a specific plot turn that Simon contributes to other than a brief scene involving the old lady’s bitter and unhappy daughter, but does it matter? For all its B-level plotting (and brief sixty-nine minute running time), the film is so well directed, acted and shot (including terrific visual effects and incredibly beautiful produciton design) that it goes down beautifully for anyone who knows not to actually wait for either a curse or a cat person to appear.