Saturday, October 17, 2009

Instant Black Cat

Movie Morlocks turned me on to The Black Cat as part of their Gladys Cooper article. Her role is small but juicy - the movie is probably better known for Bela Lugosi, Gale Sondergaard, Basil Rathbone and a young Alan Ladd. But it is really an Abbott & Costello horror spoof, without Abbott & Costello. Instead we have Hugh Herbert playing Costello, and Broderick Crawford as Orson Wells playing Bud Abbott.

A rich old lady who lives in a spooky mansion with a million cats is about to die. Crawford, who lived nearby as a boy comes to buy the house after she passes away. He brings antique dealer/imbecile Hugh Herbert. Unfortunately, the cat lady is still alive, and her relatives are all still waiting for their inheritance. They won't have to wait long, though, for the old later is swiftly poisoned. Now Crawford will have to find the murderer and woo his childhood sweetheart before Herbert destroys the house looking for (or creating) distressed antiques.

We get the usual lost will/hidden passages/creepy crypt/spooky gardeners and so on. Not as many cats as you might expect. Not a lot of jokes, not a lot of scares, but plenty of smiles and a few shivers. Hugh Herbert (not to be confused with Frank McHugh) is a bit of an acquired taste: He's the Woo-Whoo guy if that helps you identify him. But he comes in relatively small doses, so that's ok. Crawford is fun in this role, bringing a real Wellsian heft to a lightweight, comic part.

So, fun for Old Dark House spoofs, especially if you are tired of Abbott & Costello. And it is a "Watch Instantly", so you can watch anytime before Halloween.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

When you listed the cast, all I could think of was Dracula, Bette Davis' nemesis in "The Letter," Sherlock Holmes, Shane, and Highway Patrol Guy. If that's not a reason to see the movie, I don't know what is.