Six Damn Fine Degrees #3: Curse Of The Cat People

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

Following Matt’s dislike for the cat-shaped shenanigans of Garfield, I thought I’d follow up with something far more positive in the world of the feline: Val Lewton’s incredible Curse Of The Cat People.

When it comes to Hollywood, the rationale behind sequels is obvious. We’ve had a success and made money. Let’s make more of the same and make even more money. In 1942, RKO Pictures had a big hit with Cat People, a low-budget horror about a woman who fears she’ll transform into a panther if aroused by passion. So the bigwigs at the studio made the obvious call. The public liked the mix of feminine desire laced with the threat of feline danger so let’s make a sequel. Hence they were to greenlight:

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The Rear-View Mirror: Cat People (1942)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

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In the early 1940s, RKO was in trouble. The costs of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and the financial disaster that was The Magnificent Ambersons (now tragically partly lost) had left the studio in dire straits. In order to get back in the black, they looked to Universal, which made a steady income from low budget by-the-numbers horror movies.

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