CAT GIRL (1957)
Article #1121 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-9-2004
Posting Date: 9-6-2004
Directed by Alfred Shaughnessy
Featuring Barbara Shelley, Robert Ayres, Kay Callard
A woman returns to her ancestral home to discover that she is under the family curse involving a leopard.
One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is that the woman is not a were-cat, despite the fact that she dreams she is at one point in the proceedings. Rather, she seems to share her soul with a leopard who does its killing at her bidding. This, combined with some good atmosphere and a decent performance by Barbara Shelley are the strengths of this movie, which is for the most part a rather weak recycling of Lewton’s THE CAT PEOPLE. I think it’s interesting to compare the two movies; in particular, I couldn’t help but notice that though both movies share the plot element of a troubled marriage, in the earlier movie, the marriage is a direct result of the curse and is inextricably tied to the central theme. Here the marriage is troubled before the curse manifests itself, and largely exists to set up an excuse for the first leopard attack; it’s incidental to the plot and could be easily replaced by some other element. The story here seems a little confused; I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to sympathize with the Shelley character or merely see her as a threat; this impression changes depending on which scene it is in the movie. I also have no confidence in the brainpower of the Robert Ayres character in this one; he’s fully aware that the “cursed” (or “mentally disturbed”) woman is in love with him and is jealous of his wife, yet he decides that the way to return her to normalcy is to have her spend an unsupervised day with his wife. It doesn’t matter whether he believes in the curse or not here; it’s just a really stupid thing to do.