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Directed by Jacques Tourneur

United States 1942 73 mins. In English

Produced by psychological horror visionary Val Lewton, Tourneur’s Cat People stars Simone Simon as a Serbian immigrant whose old country fears point towards a terrible truth. Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, who went on to shoot several other Lewton productions, bathes the frame in more darkness than light, evoking an otherworldly shadowland where the supernatural seems as plausible as receiving the daily mail. Made on a shoestring budget, the film was a massive hit (RKO’s biggest of 1942), grossing four million at the box office, paving the way for Lewton’s continued excursions in genre filmmaking despite the eventual diminished box office returns of subsequent work. “Cat People wasn’t frightening like a slasher movie, using shocks and gore, but frightening in an eerie, mysterious way that was hard to define; the screen harbored unseen threats, and there was an undertone of sexual danger that was more ominous because it was never acted upon.”-Roger Ebert