Simone Simon stars in the Tourneur/Lewton frightfest Cat People from 1942. I’m teaching this today along with a first toe-dipping into Freudian theory. Old Siggy had a lot of hang-ups from his time and misapprehensions about human nature (as opposed to its particular manifestation during his particular and odd time) but there were enough astute observations in his work to keep its currency high even now.
The Lewton/Tourneur film makes much of its atmosphere. The oddly iconoclast Simon portrays the Serbian woman Irena who piques the interest of architect Oliver Reed (?!) despite her odd obsession with the panther in the zoo and her faith in the effects of an old Serbian curse which dictated that — should she show the least interest in sex — she will immediately turn into a ravening beast herself. The gorgeous cinematography and effective moodiness of the film make this a real pleasure to watch and the deft nature of it will keep you guessing up until the end about whether Simon’s fears are real or not.
The remake with Malcolm McDowall and Nastasia Kinski is also fun. For the round up of Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V, see Todd’s blog.