Source: My Own Collection
If your wondering how much relevance this hard to find Universal movie has to the classic story by Edgar Allan Poe; the answer is very LITTLE! Yeah this movie is much more of Murder Mystery Comedy as opposed to the tale of gruesome Murder,intense Psychological Guilt,and Insanity that the story The Black Cat is really about.
Regardless of its relevance to the classic Poe story, this movie is actually a rather funny, suspenseful, and well acted movie. Its stroy revolves around a bunch of greedy heirs who are stuck in this creepy mansion were one by one they keep turning up mysteriously dead. The reason none of them can just simply leave the house is there is a terrible storm going on outside and its completely washed away the bridge. (yes such a cliché, but hey its the 1940s so give it a break). Now to make it even better some "Abbott and Costello" like characters accidentally get stuck in the mansion. Were they provide pretty much all the comedy. One of my favourite lines was when the one main character tells Basil Rathbones character "Listen to this guy,he thinks he`s Sherlock Holmes". (For those of you who have no idea what i`m talking about Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes in a ton of movie`s and to date is probably arguably the best actor to portray Sherlock Holmes).Which leads me to another thing, this movie is a "who dun it" style mystery and they do a great job in keeping you guessing on who`s culprit, because they seriously make almost everyone a suspicious character. So they definitely did a good job at keeping the murderer mysterious.
If your wondering how at all this is anything like the story by Edgar Allan Poe, this is how; Ever time someone would get killed a black cat would mysteriously be at the scene making some creepy evil sounding meow, and then at the end of this movie the black cat sort of gives away who the murderer is somewhat but not really like in the original story. Ah yeah that is about it, so it barely qualifies as an adaptation of the classic story.
The movie`s cast is also very well set up with two of my favourite actors Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone. Sadly though Lugosi is hardly in it, were he plays the gardener edwardo. At least when he is on screen its an flat out awesome performance, I really just don`t understand why they couldn`t give him more Screen time. Next Basil Rathbone plays a greedy heir Monty, thankfully he has plenty of screen time and he puts that great sinister edge into his character in such a way that only he could pull off. As far as the rest of the cast, they are all pretty decent actors. Like Hugh Herbert and Broadrick Crawford make a pretty funny comedy duo, were they actually, made me laugh out loud at both their jokes and their silly slapstick routines (such as when Herberts character full on tackles a suit of armour). I would also like to make note of Gale Sondergaard`s performance as she played the role of the house keeper Abigail, she was really good for the role. Sinister yet weirdly hot at the sametime.
Well overall this movie was a pretty good movie.It had some good laughs, some interesting characters, and a little suspense thrown in there. The only thing is if your looking for a direct faithful adaptation to the book by Edgar Allan Poe this is not all the place to look. On the other hand if your looking for a good old Horror Comedy from the 40s with such horror icons as Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone then this is the movie for you!