Wednesday, June 5, 2024



THE CATMAN OF PARIS (1946) is included on Kino's REPUBLIC PICTURES HORROR COLLECTION Blu-ray set. I plan on eventually writing a blog on the overall set, but as of right now I'm just going to focus on this particular movie, one I had never seen before. 

The most notable thing about THE CATMAN OF PARIS is how much it reminds the viewer of other 1940s horror films, such as THE WOLF MAN, CAT PEOPLE, the Spencer Tracy DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, THE LODGER, and HANGOVER SQUARE. CATMAN, however, is nowhere near in the same league as the pictures it tries to imitate. 

In 1895 Paris, writer Charles Regnier (Carl Esmond) has gained a reputation for authoring a book criticizing the French justice system. Regnier also suffers from periodic headaches and blackouts, and he can't remember what has happened to him when he regains his senses. A killer referred to as The Catman has been terrorizing the city, and Regnier fears that he may be the culprit. The police suspect the writer as well, but his love interest Marie (Lenore Aubert) stands by him. The final revelation of The Catman's true identity also establishes the killer's supernatural powers. 

THE CATMAN OF PARIS is a slow-moving tale, and whatever qualities it might have had are ruined by Lesley Selander's lackluster direction. When it came to low-budget horror pictures, Republic was no Universal--the latter studio would have put something into the production to generate some sort of interest. 

The story's setting isn't taken advantage of (other than Lenore Aubert, no one in the cast comes off as even remotely Parisian). There is a can-can sequence, but it's presented in a dull fashion and goes on too long. There's also a cafe brawl and a carriage chase--it's as if because this is a Republic movie there had to be some cowboy elements in it. 

The cafe brawl has Charles beat up four louts who think he is The Catman--a rather unlikely premise, considering that the man is supposed to be an esteemed writer. What makes it even more unlikely is that Carl Esmond isn't very charismatic as Charles. Because Charles is the leading man, and all the main evidence points directly to him, you know he just can't be the killer. When the killer is revealed, the viewer realizes that a different actor played The Catman than the one who is found out to be guilty--a huge cheat, in my opinion. (The Catman, in his cloak, fancy dress, and top hat, is a striking figure, but like just about everything else in this film, he's not used properly.) 

Something else about The Catman is revealed at the end--the creature apparently has been reincarnated over and over again throughout the centuries, and he has the ability to control a person's mind and actions! (One wonders, with those types of powers, why is he wasting his time being a serial killer? And why does it only take one bullet to stop him?)

The supporting cast has standbys like Douglas Dumbrille and Gerald Mohr. On the female side Lenore Aubert and Adele Mara look great in their 19th Century costumes, but they don't have much to do (Mara gets killed off very shortly after her first scene). Aubert had a much greater chance to make an impression in ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. 

THE CATMAN OF PARIS has been released on Blu-ray before, but it belongs in a set with multiple movies--I don't think it's worth getting on its own.  

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I recently got this Republic set as well. Three of the four films I already had on terrible bootleg copies so it will be great seeing them in good quality.