The Cat and the Canary (1977)

Rating 1

Directed by Radley Metzger

Written by Radley Metzger, based on the play by John Willard

Starring Carol Lynley, Michael Callan, Honor Blackman, Olivia Hussey, Wendy Hiller, Peter McEnery, Daniel Massey, Edward Fox, Beatrix Lehmann and Wilfrid Hyde-White

A disparate group of relatives are gathered together in a creepy old house on a stormy night exactly twenty years to the day after the death of the eccentric patriarch of the family, to be read (or, in this case, see and hear) the terms of his will, when they will discover which one of them inherits his vast fortune.

Based on a stage play written in 1922, ‘The Cat And The Canary’ was first filmed in 1927, again in 1930 and, for a third time, in 1939. The third version, starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, counts amongst my all-time favourite films. It is generally regarded to be a classic, although this may be affected by individual viewers opinion of Bob Hope’s particular brand of comedy.

The version of the film reviewed here is a 1977 remake (some listings say 1979), directed by Radley Metzger, who made his name making pornographic films during the 1960s and 1970s. Although I was not expecting it to match up to my opinion of the Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard film, I was surprised how bad it is. What we get is a bunch of dislikeable characters, played by actors who ham it up outrageously and give truly appalling performances. There is little sense of suspense and the film never manages to get the mix of comedy, thriller and horror right.

Undoubtedly, I am biased to some degree by my opinion of the earlier film, but this was dreadful.

Trivia: The assistant to the director on this film was Tamasin Day-Lewis, the sister of Daniel Day-Lewis.

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