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The Curse of the Cat People

Curse of the Cat People

Year - 1944
Studio - RKO
Stars -Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Ann Carter, Eve March, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Erford Gage, Sir Lancelot
Director - Robert Wise, Gunther V. Fritsch
Writing Credits - DeWitt Bodeen
Music - Roy Webb

Synopsis

Amy (Ann Carter), daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed (Kent Smith and Jane Randolph) is a sensitive and withdrawn little girl, not liked by her classmates because of it. Oliver is very concerned about her, seeing characteristics in her of his first wife, Irena, who died tragically.

As Amy walks by a huge old Victorian house in her neighborhood, a woman's voice calls out to her from an upstairs window, and drops a handkerchief containing an ornate ring. When Amy shows it to her parents, they insist she return it to the owner. Amy returns to the house where she meets the owner, Mrs. Farren (Julia Dean) a proud old woman, who regales Amy with stories of her illustrious show business past. Amy likes the old woman, but is afraid of Mrs. Farren's sullen daughter, Barbara (Elizabeth Russell). Mrs. Farren insists her real daughter died many years ago and that this woman is "an imposter."

Curse of the Cat People poster

As Mrs. Farren refuses to take back the ring, Amy returns home with it, where their cook, Edward (Sir Lancelot), suggests that it is a "wishing ring." In the back yard, Amy earnestly turns the ring on her finger, and wishes for a "friend." Her wish is granted, and a friend appears, at this point only to her.

On Christmas eve, the family gathers in their living room, where Amy reveals wrapped gifts, including one without a name tag. Her father asks who the gift is for but, before she can respond, they are interrupted by carolers outdoors. As Oliver and Alice entertain the carolers, Amy takes one of the packages to the backyard, to present it to her "good friend." The lighting takes on a mystical quality and her friend, the beautiful Irena (Simone Simon) appears, dressed in a fairytale princess gown. She tells Amy that she'll be her friend, as long as Amy wants her.

Back in the house, Amy finds a photograph of her father with his late wife Irena, and excitedly says to him that he knows her friend. Oliver, frustrated over his daughter's "fantasies" angrily insists that she admit that the friend does not exist. When Amy refuses, he takes her to her room for her first spanking.

Spoilers - Click to Reveal

Alone in her room, Irena reappears and tells Amy that she must now send her away, and she disappears. Amy is distraught and tries to follow her through the backyard gate, and into the dark and snowy woods.

When the parents discover she is missing, they follow her tracks in the snow, accompanied by policeman with tracking hounds. Amy finds her way to the Farren mansion, and Mrs. Farren tries to hide her, rightly fearing that her daughter has developed a jealous hate for the little girl. As they ascend the staircase, the old woman dies of a heart attack, and the daughter, Barbara, approaches. The terrified Amy turns her wishing ring and imagines that Barbara is actually Irena. She goes to her, where Barbara puts her hands to her neck, intending to strangle her. But she stops, hearing Amy repeat over and over, "My friend, my friend." The police and her father and mother arrive and, returning home, Oliver vows to never question Amy's fantasies again.

Curse of the Cat People, hardly a likely title for a "feel-good fantasy" is a sequel of sorts to the Val Lewton-produced, Jacques Tourneur-directed classic, The Cat People, with much the same cast. Ann Carter, who gives a wonderful child performance as Amy Reed, appeared in I Married a Witch, playing the Veronica Lake character as a child.

Lyn Davis-Genelli has written a blog analysis of the film on the website, deathatthemovies.com