Hello, and welcome once again to the Instant View Movie Club, the weekly film review for the lazy cinephile. Next week’s film will be a harrowing peek into the dark corners humanity..no, not ‘My Super Sweet 16: The Movie’, but Ingmar Bergmen’s ‘Hour Of The Wolf’, chosen partly because the title’s mentioned in Oingo Boingo’s ‘No One Lives Forever’. First though, let’s revisit this week’s film:
From the 30-second clip last week, I suspected 1927′s ‘The Cat And The Canary’ would be entertaining, but nothing prepared me for camp of this magnitude:
Layered, giant, hovering cats! An old man trapped in bottles dropping dead! Metaphor made head-bangingly literal! THIS is how you open a movie, people! Right from the start ‘The Cat And The Canary’ avoids the staginess plaguing so many movies (including modern ones) adapted from plays, utilizing its medium to full potential. The liberal use of tracking shots is surprising considering the era; imagine the poor cameraman who had to carry a full-weight 35mm camera down hallways and around corners. It’s also extremely effective, putting the viewer right into the path of danger and letting them experience the setting in complete dimensionality. The use of layering to evoke all senses is also clever; it’s hard not to hear the clock gonging as the hammers hit twelve o’clock.
Even the intertitles get into the act, with plenty of animation and comic-style lettering:
I’m not sure exactly why, but this fellow reminded me of John Hodgeman:
It could just be the suit and glasses. And what a rare treat, to have two typical ‘leading man’ types relegated to the background in favor of a well-meaning nerd/cowardly comic relief in the fore! Sorry ladies, you’ll have to wait for this guy’s next romantic comedy to swoon:
This film was just the right blend of genuine entertainment and campy goodness. I haven’t really set up any sort of rating system and find Netflix’s pentatonic 5-star notes limiting, so let’s just say, I highly recommend it. Normally this would be an extensive essay on the film’s various points, but as there are other posts to post here’s a random selection of thoughts:
This was one of my favorite sequences in the movie.
Monster hands reaching out towards the unaware and trapdoors opening to reveal bodies are clichèd now, but back then this was some Wim Wenders shit.
Here’s a helpful hint- if people are constantly accusing you of being insane, you may want to tone down the crazy eyes.
Tommy Lee Jones makes a guest appearance.
For a second I thought the film was going to turn into ‘Un Chien Andalou’. Considering the timing and popularity of the movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Un Chien Andalou’ was influenced by ‘The Cat And The Canary’, in particular this weird scene with the doctor. Everything about it was unnerving, especially the constant danger the heroine seemed to be in from the seemingly benign doctor:
Portrayals of the mentally insane weren’t as sensitive in the past.
This yokel direct from Central Casting had to be an inspiration for Disney’s Ichabod Crane.
And now, what you all came here to see:
GAMS, GAMS GAMS!