Cat and the Canary (1927)

Discussion in 'Classic' started by dwatts, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Messages:
    16,580
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Crashed
    This weekend was a big silent movie marathon at my home - started with The Lost World, went into Phantom of the Opera, and ended with this one - Cat and the Canary.

    You know, sometimes silent movies look like - well, silent movies - and other times they can look like 30's talkies, but without the sound (if you know what I mean). In other words, the over-exuberance of the actors in early films has given way to a little subtlety, and the camera moves in a more progressive way. Thios Cat and the Canary is like that, for it's age (1927) it feels like a more modern film.

    We should all know this well-worn stroy by now as it's still in circulation. Old grumpy man knows he's dying, he knows his family and waiting to get his money. He lives in an old dark house. So he makes a will, to be read 20 years after his death - making them wait. When the 20 years have passed everyone returns to the house, and a single person is named a the receiver of the wealth - with the one proviso that, should anything happen to that person, an as yet unamed (the name is kept in an envelope) person will get the cash instead. Oh, and they all have to stay the night because a storm is kicking up...........

    The plot was a bit creaky even at the time this was made. :D

    But that's why we have classics - it's a story worth telling over and over.

    This is the film with the iconic image of a bug eyed man, huge fans coming up from his bottom lip, stalking the poor yung woman in dark rooms, and it's worth tuning in just for that.

    Along with that there are wonderful shots down corridors, with curtains bellowing (this shot has been done many times before, another early talking that does a good job with it - one you might have seen - is Old Dark House).

    But this movie is fun because, in all honestly, it's mostly played for laughs. In fact, this is one of the eaiest horror/comedies I own on DVD. To be frank, you won't find any scares here - it's all been done time and time again, there are no surprises. But we have a couple of quirky characters - from dopey nephews, to half mad aunts, to lunatic milk-wagon drivers. The Kino disc from R1 also has a bouncy little score (orchestral) to go along with it.

    The movie runs a short 80 minutes.

    All in all this is a nice little film if you're not in the mood for a strong horror flick. This is a comedy with horror elements, and it's well done. For fans of silent film, another must have.
     
  2. Shock Waves

    Shock Waves New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    472
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    CenTex
    This is one of those slents that almost "feels" like it isn't silent.
    It's well paced (although the humor is pretty stilted), and has some wonderful camera tricks and angles. The carriage ride at the beginning is great.

    I have an Alpha disc of this and its a pretty bad print. I may have to upgrade to the Kino.

    Nice review Dwatts.
     
  3. Erick H.

    Erick H. Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2004
    Messages:
    9,394
    Likes Received:
    130
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I find some of the better silent films actually play better than many of the early talkies,they are more fluid and stylish.Certainly a strong director makes a huge difference,but I suspect that the bulky,non portable early sound equipment essentially ended up making many of these films look like the camera had been nailed to the ground.Of course it also led to a lot of shots centered around a large potted plant or vase,where the microphone was hidden !
     
  4. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Messages:
    7,878
    Likes Received:
    600
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Illinois
    I found this one more enjoyable than Old Dark House. As I recall it starts off kinda slow but picks up the pace and keeps it up. It's rather lurid too; another benefit of being pre-code. I don't remember it being particularly funny, but then it's been a few years since I've seen it. Much horror from that time tossed in humor like James Whale or another knock off The Thirteenth Guest. So I'm not sure I'd call it a Horror / Comedy, after all Doctor 'X' had more "gags" in it and is seemingly considered straight horror.

    I saw the Kino print on TCM, it "looked' very good. It felt like it has been glossed over, like Kino's Metropolis does so I figure there was probably heavy DNR applied. There seems to be a tendency to over compensate, I assume because such older films were often more neglected. From what I've seen of the Nosferatu restoration on the other hand the grain structure remained intact so I'm fairly confident that wasn't DNR'ed to hell.
     

Share This Page