Movie Diary 3/27/2019

The Curse of the Cat People (Gunther V. Fritsch, Robert Wise, 1944). Wonderful Val Lewton-produced childhood dream, full of empathy for all concerned – including the fantasy figure (Simone Simon) carried over from the original Cat People. Beautiful photography by Nicholas Musuraca, with small-town atmosphere that seems ghostly even before Simon shows up, and nice use of the Ambersons mansion.

Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson, 1945). A very static situation, as a group of people hunker down on the island when plague is suspected. Still, it has some of the quality of a restless night’s sleep, all shadows and repeated glimpses of the same handful of sets. The soundtrack, typical for a Val Lewton production, is superb: The eerie sounds carried on the wind at night are actually hair-raising, not something we’re supposed to be scared by but actually aren’t. Karloff has a good workout.

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