Ten years have passed since the death of millionaire, Cyrus Norman. Cosby, Cyrus' attorney, has gathered Cyrus' 6 remaining relatives to his New Orleans' mansion for Cyrus' "reading of the will".
To the others disappointment, Joyce is the sole heir, but, due to a streak of insanity running in the family, a second will has been made in case Joyce falls victim to it. This puts Joyce in danger.
Suddenly, Miss Lu, Cyrus' maid, appears and warns them that the spirits have told her that one of them will die that night. Following this, Hendrick, a prison guard, warns them that, "The Cat", a homicidal maniac has escaped. This sets up Cyrus' relatives with a night filled with murders, mysteries and intrigue.
Bob Hope ... Wally Campbell
Paulette Goddard ... Joyce Norman
John Beal ... Fred Blythe
Douglass Montgomery ... Charles Wilder
Gale Sondergaard ... Miss Lu
Elizabeth Patterson ... Aunt Susan
George Zucco ... Mr. Crosby, lawyer
Nydia Westman ... Cicily
John Wray ... Hendricks, guard
George Regas ... Indian guide
Director: Elliott Nugent
Codecs: XVid / MP3
The 1927 late silent filming of this creaky John Willard play was stylish and had to its credit excellent cinematography, art direction and editing. The acting was less than up to par but taken for itself, it was quite enjoyable.
Hollywood didn't get around to re-filming it until 1939. Paramount acquired the rights from Universal and rewrote the script to give it a comedic bent -all for the talents of Bob Hope in his first big role. The added one liners are still quite funny, especially the one about Republicans. Hope is great, as is Paulette Goddard in the lead, although she is a tougher heroine than the original is intended to be.
The rest of the cast is well-assigned their roles. Standouts are George Zucco as the lawyer, Mr. Crosby and Nydia Westman as Cicily. Gale Sondergaard is properly menacing as the housekeeper, Miss Lu - and Douglass Montgomery is dashingly handsome and kind as Charles Wilder.
The plot devices, make-up and menace did not give me any thrills, but then, I knew the plot and who the killer would turn out to be. I imagine it's much more fun for someone who has never been exposed to the original play or silent film.
Changes in the original - only ten years, not twenty, have passed since the old millionaire's death and certain character names have been changed - Annabelle West is now Joyce Norman. Paul Jones is now Wally Campbell. Harry Blythe is now Fred Blythe. Mammy Pleasant is now Miss Lu - etc.
There's delight, humor, a few chills - and a literally surprise unveiling of the murderer, the motives, and the method.
# Miss Lu is the character that was named Mammy Plessant in the original movie and Broadways versions of "The Cat And The Canary".
# In the original Broadway play and movie, the dead man was named Cyrus West. In this version, the dead man is named Cyrus Norman, possibly because the actress Mae West was still making films at this time.
# Elizabeth Patterson played the role of Susan in both this and the first sound version of the story, The Cat Creeps (1930).