The Cat and the Canary. Third film in the Greatest Years in Cinema Project. Fourth film from 1939 in total. Fulfilling the obligatory horror portion of the project, it is a fun little comedy horror flick. No Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein but it is solid enough. Probably shan't be watching it again any time ever, but it was fine.
Was based on a 1922 stage play by John Willard. This was the third of six versions based on the play. Others included a 1927 silent version, The Cat Creeps from 1930 which was the first Universal horror film with sound and dialogue (it is considered a lost film), 1941's The Black Cat which has a different ending, and 1979 British version with people you've never heard of.
|The look of someone who's had enough of this shit|
Gist of the movie is that 10 years after old rich guy Cyrus Norman his family and a random actor, one wisecracking actor Wally Campbell (Hope), gather for the reading of Norman's estate which he has left to distant relative Joyce Norman (Goddard) who gets everything so long as she can stay sane for like a night and a day, which proves difficult as a bunch of shit goes down. If she can't keep it together, it all goes to someone else whose name is sealed in an envelope, supposedly unknown. Yeah, this doesn't make a lot of sense. The point, it seems, was to make her look crazy but it's hard to be like, "she is cray, give me the money!" when the executor of the will gets murdered within an hour proving that someone is out to get her.
Overall, a pretty enjoyable watch with some pretty solid suspense, especially at the end. The set design is what I walked away most impressed with. Dark passageways and a foggy estate in the Bayou where a mysterious monster lurks. Supposedly this and the 1940 film The Ghost Breakers which also starred Hope and Goddard and sounds like more or less the same movie were what inspired the design of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
Believe there are shades of this movie in Murder Mystery, a Jenifer Aniston Adam Sandler Netflix movie, also maybe the New Orleans haunted house/demon baby movie Hell Baby. At the end it is hard to say who is against her and who has her best interest in mind. Not super surprising who the killer is but you are kept guessing until the reveal at the end. Hope was sort of funny in a dad joke kind of way and probably won the movie. He is solid, I guess, but way over the top.