The Catman of Paris

May 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm (5 Heads, Catman of Paris) (, , , )

The Catman of Paris – 1946 – United States

In 1905 Paris, a handsome amnesiac novelist allegedly transforms into a murderous beast at night. In a ridiculous logical leap within the first 10 minutes, a police detective deduces a catman is on the prowl. The flick’s remainder is spent resolving the novelist’s love life and debating moral quandaries like “Is he guilty if he can’t control himself?” In the confounding twist ending, the catman is revealed to be a supernatural harbinger of change, and the catalyst behind the Roman massacre of the Christians and the atrocities of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The catman implanted false memories in the novelist, inspiring him to write a book exposing corruption in the French government. It’s imaginative, despite making no sense.

Produced by thrifty Republic Pictures, The Catman of Paris makes efficient use of its tight budget. The plot is confined to a few elegant interior locations and the small cast is competent, even if their fake accents vary in quality. The catman’s makeup isn’t shown until the climax, which is fine since he looks like a scruffy Ming the Merciless. Plus, there are acrobatic dancing girls, a carriage chase, and a savage brawl with lots of throws, tumbles, and smashed furniture.

Catman of Paris is interesting for its obscurity and eccentricity. The meowing beast in evening wear and top hat is memorable, evoking The Werewolf of London (1935). While Catman of Paris isn’t a classic, it’s enjoyably weird and individualistic, and that’s pretty good for poverty row.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. On a mostly unrelated note, check out the excellent Cat People (1942).

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