Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
An absolute shame that this isn't available on DVD
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is a real shame that this film isn't available on DVD. For my money this is far and away the best film Bob Hope was ever in. I must confess that I'm not a Hope fan in general. I'm a huge fan of American comedy from the age of the studio system, and own a stack of DVDs of all the great comedians and comedy directors -- the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, W. C. Fields, Preston Sturges, Buster Keaton, Billy Wilder, Harry Langdon, and the like -- but I've never been able to include Hope among the top tier of comics. I think the problem is that in almost all of Hope's films he is asked to be a leading man, and I personally am not able to believe him in that role. I find him a pleasing presence, but I've never really laughed at Bob Hope and enjoyed neither his Road pictures with Bing Crosby nor his solo films like MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE or THE PALEFACE. Other than THE CAT AND THE CANARY, the only Bob Hope film that I cared for at all was the film that was more or less a sequel to this one, THE GHOSTBREAKERS. I like this one a great deal more than that one, largely because here Hope is much more a part of an ensemble cast.
The story is pretty much the standard one from THE OLD DARK HOUSE forward: a group of strangers are thrown together in an isolated house where murder ensues. There is a nice cast, some nice twists, and some nice interplay between Hope and Paulette Goddard (with whom he would be reunited in THE GHOSTBREAKERS). It is not one of the best movies of this type (AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and THE OLD DARK HOUSE continue to reign as the best in the genre), but it is a very good one. Bob Hope is a delight and there are a number of nicely quirky supporting characters. There is a certain ritualistic tenor to all such films, but here the ritual is pleasant and satisfying.
If you are a fan of Bob Hope -- and I suspect that most people who see this are fans -- you will especially love this film. If you are not, like me, a fan, you will almost certainly love this film anyway. It is such an enjoyable film that I wish that Hope's career had taken a different course, that instead of being a leading man he would have continued in smaller roles, as part of an ensemble. Either way, it is a shame that this is not currently available on DVD. But hopefully this will change."
5 star film - one star copy
Susan Belcher | St Helens, England | 10/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the night of the 10th anniversary of the death of Cyrus Norman the remaining heirs gather at his mansion in the middle of the Louisiana bayous in order to discover who will inherit his millions.
Those present are: Lawyer Crosby (George Zucco); Miss Lu, the housekeeper (Gale Sondergaard); Susan Tilberry (Elizabeth Patterson); Cicily Young (Nydia Westman); Fred Blythe (John Beal); Charlie Wilder (Douglass Montgomery); our beautiful damsel in need of protection Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard) and, of course, our hero Wally Campbell (Bob Hope - seven little foys).
The Will states that, due to the inherited strain of insanity, that the heir must spend the night in Old Man Norman's room. Should they not survive the night, or if they loose their mind, then the inheritance will pass to a second heir (whose name is in a second envelope). Since no-one knows who the alternative heir is, they all have a vested interest in seeing the heir dead or insane.
They are forced to stay on the island until the following morning. As they settle in a guard from the nearby asylum arrives at the house to warn them that a maniac known as "The Cat" is on the loose.
This was Bob Hope's first screen appearance as the bumbling coward who tries to be a hero.
This film is a classic black and white comedy/thriller, but it is in need of care and restoration because the copies produced from the original source are not of the greatest quality - the picture is a little fuzzy and grainy, and the sound has an underlying hiss. To be honest, it looks like it has been copied from my old video tape. These copying faults let down what is a 5 star film.