Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Gale Sondergaard
THE BLACK CAT (1941). Director: Albert S. Rogell.

In this entertaining comedy-thriller, the relatives of elderly Henrietta Winslow (Cecelia Loftus) are gathered inside the obligatory spooky mansion waiting for her to die and wondering how much they'll each get. Naturally murders and weird goings-on ensue. The Black Cat certainly has an unusual collection of actors: everyone from Bela Lugosi (as a groundskeeper) to Broderick Crawford to Alan Ladd to Gale Sondergaard [who at least you expect to see in stuff like this] and even Gladys Cooper [whom you don't]. Sondergaard is very amusing as the sinister housekeeper, Abigail, and Gladys Cooper practically steals the picture in her turn as Myrna -- her husband is played by no less than Basil Rathbone, and he, too, is excellent. Anne Gwynne, Claire Dodd, and John Eldredge also have roles and Hugh Herbert is comic relief -- or something. Some may find this a little too humorous to sustain any kind of real atmosphere but it's fun and has an exciting climax.

Verdict: Any picture with this cast can't be all bad. ***.

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