The Cat and the Canary (1939 Paramount Full Film)

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Ever wonder where the story of “people ending up in a creepy mansion and then one by one people start dying and everyone starts suspecting everyone” comes from?  You know, the classic whodunit?  Before big time movie monsters like The Thing or Freddie Kruger there was the classic whodunits where people were actually quite afraid of the actions of people, not make believe monsters.

Starring legendary Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, this classic horror comedy film is actually a remake of the same titled film from 1927.  The 1927 film was based on the same play by John Willard.  The Cat and the Canary was directed by Elliott Nugent.

Taking place deep in the bayou of Louisiana, Cyrus Norman and his mistress Miss Lu (played by Gale Sondergaard) lived in a large mansion and estate.  Cyrus dies but ten years later Cyrus instructs the executor of his estate Mr. Crosby (George Zucco) round up his surviving heirs to divvy up the assets.  When Mr. Crosby arrives to inspect the will, he discovers that the will has been tampered with.

Later, Crosby and Miss Lu are accompanied by Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard), Charles Wilder (Douglass Montgomery), Cicily (Nydia Westman), Aunt Susan (Elizabeth Patterson), Fred Blythe (John Beal), and Wally Campbell (Bob Hope).  Truly and all star famous cast for that time period!

The movie sets the atmosphere by having the group tend with a potentially haunted mansion.  The foreshadowing of people’s death by the sound of a gong signalling that of the eight people gathered, only one will survive the night.

The will gives Joyce pretty much everything.  However, there is a catch.  Cyrus knew that insanity ran in the bloodline and was concerned for Joyce’s well being and sets a stipulation that the heir to the estate must remain sane for a period of 30 days.  If Joyce were too loose her sanity by that time the estate will be then given to the person who’s name is in a sealed envelope only to be opened if Joyce is found incompetent or dead.

Ah so now you know the kicker!

This movie is great fun to watch because you get to see Bob Hope in his comedic prime steal the show with his very funny and timeless jokes.  The rest of the cast executes the film flawlessly and truly will get grab you and pull you into this murder mystery.

Was it the crazy man who escaped form the sanitarium or is it a ghost?  Watch and find out!

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