Yes, folks, this is the Third and Final Part of the Saturday B-Movie Review for this flick! 🙂
I speak of none other than The Shadow of the Cat!
The more I think about this premise, the funnier it all seems. By the way, is it a British thing to make horror movies kind of, oh, funny in a slightly goofy way?
Most of the movie consists of the various relatives (and butler, for a while, at least) wringing their hands over either the killer somewhat peeved cat and the search for a will that left nothing to Walter (the husband who had the butler take out his wife—and, I mean, “take care of her”).
There are many scenes in which various bad people get clawed severely, trip and fall down a long set of stairs, and/or sink to their death in quicksand and/or a bottomless mud pit. Plus, one unlucky guy falls off the roof—while trying to chase the cat like Spiderman—not a wise move.
After the cat saves no one (bad, that is), Tabby leads authorities to the dead woman’s body.
And Beth ends up with the house, which she promptly sells with the intention of getting the fuck out of there leaving and never returning.
The new owners—a lovely nuclear family plus one grandparent—move into the place as the cat looks on. We fade out to the sounds of the old man bitching that he’ll die of boredom there, while mom and dad (out of the blue) try to convince him to change his will. And what better time to discuss such a subject than during a move?
The moral of the story: Cats are much better than people.
PS: Here are musical excerpts from the film! 🙂 Courtesy of Movie and Mania!
Hi! Today, I’m reviewing Taking it All In, a book of movie reviews by Pauline Kael. And I gotta tell you, this woman was really, not ruthless, merciless when it came to skewering a movie. And she’s absolutely hilarious.
And, actually, I did not read all of this. I couldn’t do it and manage to meet the deadline for getting the book back to the library, which is coming up fast, which is why I’m doing this review now. But, my gosh. And the movies that she hated and really ripped into surprised me sometimes. I think she ripped a little bit into War Games. I know she hated Blade Runner. She hated Ordinary People. She hated, um, what else? There were a bunch! Some of Scorsese–Raging Bull. She couldn’t stand it, I think. Oh, but of all the movies to hate, she absolutely seemed to despise Return of the Jedi.
And I was like, oh my God. And I’m just gonna read you this one little passage. She says at the end of her review of Return of the Jedi.
It’s one of the least amusing ironies of movie history that in the seventies, when the personal filmmakers seem to be gaining acceptance, the thoughtful, quiet George Lucas made the quirkily mechanical Star Wars, a film so successful that it turned the whole industry around and put it on a retrograde course where it’s now joining forces with video games manufacturers. If a filmmaker wants backing for a new project, there better be a video game in it.
Producers are putting so much action and so little character or point into their movies that there’s nothing for a viewer to latch onto. The battle between good and evil, which is the theme of just about every big fantasy adventure film, has become a flabby excuse for a lot of dumb tricks and noise. It has got to the point where some of us might be happy to see good and evil quit fighting and become friends.
Well, there you go. And I got to say, she rips into Local Hero, too. That’s another one she hated. And part of what, after a while, I kind of almost tired of her tirades, but they were funny. And I’m still an admirer, to an extent, of Pauline Kael. Although after reading this, I wanted to ask her, “Gee, was life so miserable, watching all those awful movies and having to write about them?”
I think we would have gotten along. We would have found things to laugh about. Like I’m laughing right now about this book. But if you want to get a taste of Pauline Kael, just take a taste of this. Don’t read the whole thing. That’s it, I guess. And I’ll talk to you later.
I’ll give it 5 stars. But you really have to try to understand her point of view and just deal with her tirades. 🙂
Just don’t attempt to read the whole thing at once! 🙂
This is a continuation of the review from last week. I write this for the benefit of anyone who stumbles across this blog accidentally and is confused by my numbering parts of a review.
You see, I write novels, screenplays, and sometimes short stories. And I have a podcast. And more than one blog. So … dividing the review into parts gives me time to write the next review or post a new video, etc., while not killing myself doing it or staying up until midnight trying to reach some arbitrary word count imposed by … THEM.
You knowabout them, right? Well, the heck with them. 🙂
On with the show review! 🙂
It’s Part Two of Shadow of the Cat! 🙂
This cat (her name is Tabitha) is such a cute tabby that right away you know it’ll piss you off big time if anyone dare harm a whisker on this delightful creature.
Tabby, however, is no fool. She may have beautiful, soulful eyes, but they provide no window into the dark clouds of vengeance gathering in her soul.
Even so, the butler is freaked out by the cat. Big mistake. With a cat, you got to play it cool.
The butler, naturally, killed the woman at her husband’s request. Or, at least, Hubby didn’t complain about it afterward. And, along with the maid, Clara, they collude to hide the body. However, all three start losing their shit when they hear the cat saw the murder.
Now, even though a cat can’t testify in court, the deadly trio are right to be nervous. The fact that they’re so nervous about a cat makes you wonder how they got involved in planning and committing murders.
The only one the cat doesn’t hate is the lovely young girl of our (cat) tale, Beth. She (essentially) saves the cat. So, the cat seems to like her, at least.
Are these idiots stone-cold killers afraid Tabby will call the coppers? Give a deposition? Well, no, but Kitty does seem to want to exact a bloody revenge on the bunch.
Time for another send-up review of movies from the archives of Svengoolie!
It’s Part One of The Shadow of the Cat!
This is the most interesting entry in the Hammer Films lineup. This may possibly be the one and only story I’ve seen in which a cat (that’s not a cartoon) is the protagonist.
Well that’s my theory, because I was rooting for the cat the whole time.
But let me give you the deets:
In England in the early 1900s (two whole centuries ago), we see an elderly woman working on something late in the night, in a big old house in the middle of nowhere. Like all houses in these movies are.
And we see a pair of feet silently shuffling along a corridor and maybe up some stairs. It’s a man’s silhouette or, possibly, an extremely mannish woman.
He also turns out to be a killer. The man creeps up on the working woman as she’s finishing up. She looks up and cries out (I think, maybe) as he brings a blunt object down with a smack against her skull. And down for the count she goes—without the count, because that would go on and on and on …
By the way, it is not a spoiler to say that the butler did it. This is revealed immediately (pretty much). The only witness to the killing is, of course, le chat.
This movie is … well … very late 70s. Originally titled Cutter and Bone (which makes it sound like a story about a meat market), the main character in the film is what they used to call a “beach bum”, which is an old term for a “slacker”. He is played by none other than Jeff Bridges.
His friend, Alex Cutter, is a Vietnam vet who suffered substantial physical trauma during his deployment. He isn’t exactly a happy camper with any of that, not to mention the politicians who made it all possible.
Okay, so our hero, Richard Bone (played by Bridges), witnesses a peculiar event when his car breaks down one rainy night. He thinks he sees a man toss something large into a trash can. This is later revealed to be a young girl’s body—dead, of course. Brutally murdered.
And, for reasons I never completely understood, Bone becomes a suspect. Because you have to have a scene that raises the stakes and sets things in motion. Plus you gotta have a part where the Big Bad Lawman beats the crap out of grills the deadbeat bum suspect with great gusto.
Bone later spots an influential man at the local “Founder’s Day Parade”—an event splashed across the screen during the opening credits with all the pomp and circumstance of small town Tex-Mex/American boosterism. Complete with flag holders carrying the Stars and Stripes and majorettes in red, white, and blue, prancing about in their tiny, shiny outfits while the band plays on. They’re in the background, upstaged by two women the woman in white.
Please note the dream-like quality of the US-Mexican mashup, set to the most ethereal music. Followed by our introduction to Bone’s world.
That folks is a very Seventies opener and set up. Now, in addition, when Cutter learns that Bone thinks this influential pillar of the community named J.J. Cord might have been the guy he might have seen dumping the girl in with the garbage, Cutter develops a conspiracy theory. And a plan. He believes Cord’s the killer and it’s being covered up. And guess who’s the patsy?
I’ll stop there for a moment to ask the obvious question. Does anyone see the seeds for TheBigLebowski in any of this? If not, wait for it.
You see, Cutter’s idea (or Cutter’s Way, if you will) is to blackmail Cord, baiting him with it, until he acknowledges the threat, thus forcing an unspoken confession.
Now do you see any resemblance whatsoever?
Jeff Bridges’ beach bum is a Dude in the making. He doesn’t want any part of this crazy scheme.
Cutter, on the other hand, is a hugely pissed off Vietnam vet. One who continually needles Bone (and gets on everyone’s nerves) to the point where Bone finally gives in. Likely to get him to calm the fuck down.
Now, admittedly, Cutter’s war-related emotions are WAY more raw and obvious (as are his physical disabilities) than those of John Goodman as the Vietnam-war obsessive Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. But still … in both movies Bridges plays the most passive of protagonists. It is Cutter (played by an almost unrecognizable John Heard) who drives the action.
There is also a love interest, but she’s not an artist whose work has been described in vaginal terms. She’s Cutter’s unhappy, neglected wife Mo (short for Maureen), who at one point was Bone’s main squeeze.
The movie weaves a bit awkwardly between the love-hate triangle among the threesome and the whole blackmailing scheme. It culminates in what should be a harrowing twist that I could see coming a few scenes ahead that came off a bit muted, because that’s the kind of thing they did in movies from this era.
This film is so very much a product of its time. It’s full of Seventies zeitgeist—politics, paranoia, and the tail end of the hippie craze. The failed promise of Flower Power imbues the proceedings like the fading stench of patchouli.
The performances are excellent. Jeff Bridges is a natural as Bone (or, at least, he makes it seem that way). John Heard almost steals the show in his explosive depiction of Cutter. It’s almost painful to watch him rave, as if he were flaying his own skin before you. Lisa Eichhorn puts in a top-notch performance, imbuing Mo with the right combination of frustration, anger, desire, and pathos.
I won’t tell you how it turns out. Trust me when I say, not well. And not definitively.
This is truly a 70s movie. Right up to its ambiguous, open-ended finish. God, I hate that.
Nonetheless, despite the lack of a neat resolution, the sheer pace and tension of what leads to the ending is enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
I should mention also that the title Cutter and Bone came from the novel from which this movie was adapted. I haven’t read the book, but it does seem fitting in retrospect.
Yes, the acting was that good! And the harshness of the message was lightened only slightly by the occasional little Lebowski aside by Yours Truly. 🙂
Directed by Ivan Passer Produced by Paul R. Gurian Screenplay by Jeffrey Alan Fiskin
Okay, wow! I’m astonishedamazed pleased as can be to say that this here blog has been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This, I think, makes the third time. I’m flabbergasted surprised, to say the least.
1. You are able to travel back in time and are starring in a film from Hollywood’s Golden Age which decade would you prefer and why?
I’d go with either a screwball comedy from the 30s, because they look fun, or a 40s film noir with a woman who isn’t a femme fatale, because that would be awesome. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
2. What is your favorite film related book?
OMG! I’m reading Pauline Kael’s book Taking it All In. Kael was without a doubt one of the most wickedly funny film reviewers ever!
3. Do you own any pieces of memorabilia from classic Hollywood (autographs, magazines, etc.)?
As a matter of fact, I do. I own a framed copy of that famous Life Magazine cover with Marilyn Monroe on it. Dated August 17, 1962, which came out back when the magazine cost 20 cents after she passed away.
4. What was the last classic movie you watched and would you recommend it?
That’s easy. I’ll be reviewing it here soon with Séan Weathers, assuming technology cooperates, etc. It’s In a Lonely Place. Great flick!
5. What is the post that you’re most proud of on your blog? Leave a link to share it with us!
9. What classic film would you recommend to someone who says they hate old movies?
What kind of heathen hates old movies? Well, it kind of depends on the person, their mood, etc. Either Casablanca or Where Eagles Dare.
10. How do you approach movie watching? Do you have a method (i.e. going through filmographies) or watch whatever you’re in the mood for?
I wish I had a method. Mainly, I search for interesting stuff in genres that I figure will appeal to me, which takes in an awful lot, actually. I’ve been focusing here on film noir, mainly because I write crime fiction and a lot of great classic films have been based on those books. The very books I like to write and/or read.
11. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would it be?
Pick a topic you love, just be yourself, and have fun!
But wait! There’s more!
#6 Nominate up to 11 bloggers.
Ah! “Up to 11” you say? I wonder if I can manage that.