Cat People (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cat People (1942)



Critic Consensus: Influential noir director Jacques Tourneau infused this sexy, moody horror film with some sly commentary about the psychology and the taboos of desire.

Movie Info

Handed the exploitive title Cat People, RKO producer Val Lewton opted for a thinking man's thriller--a psychological mood piece, more reliant on suspense and suggestion than overt "scare stuff". Simone Simon plays an enigmatic young fashion artist who is curiously affected by the panther cage at the central park zoo. She falls in love with handsome Kent Smith, but loses him to Jane Randolph. After a chance confrontation with a bizarre stranger at a restaurant, Simon becomes obsessed with the notion that she's a Cat Woman--a member of an ancient Serbian tribe that metamorphoses into panthers whenever aroused by jealousy. She begins stalking her rival Randolph, terrifying the latter in the film's most memorable scene, set in an indoor swimming pool at midnight. Psychiatrist Tom Conway scoffs at the Cat Woman legend--until he recoils in horror after kissing Simon. If the film's main set looks familiar, it is because it was built for Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (Lewton later used the same set for his The Seventh Victim). Cat People was remade by director Paul Schrader in 1982.

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Simone Simon
as Irena Dubrovna Reed
Kent Smith
as Ollie Reed
Tom Conway
as Dr. Louis Judd
Jane Randolph
as Alice Moore
Jack Holt
as Commodore
Elizabeth Dunne
as Miss Plunkett
Elizabeth Russell
as The Cat Woman
Alec Craig
as Zookeeper
Eddie Dew
as Street Cop
Dot Farley
as Mrs. Agnew
George Ford
as Whistling Cop
Bud Geary
as Mounted Cop
Mary Halsey
as Blondie
Charles Jordan
as Bus Driver
Murdock MacQuarrie
as Sheep Caretaker
Leda Nicova
as Patient
Donald Kerr
as Taxi Driver
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News & Interviews for Cat People

Critic Reviews for Cat People

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (6)

I do like a film that opens with a mission statement, and... Cat People starts thus: "Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness."

October 3, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

This is a weird drama of thrill-chill caliber.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Cat People wasn't frightening like a slasher movie, using shocks and gore, but frightening in an eerie, mysterious way that was hard to define; the screen harbored unseen threats.

September 26, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

More a film about unreasoning fear than the supernatural, this work demonstrates what a filmmaker can accomplish when he substitutes taste and intelligence for special effects.

September 26, 2007 | Full Review…

First in the wondrous series of B movies in which Val Lewton elaborated his principle of horrors imagined rather than seen, with a superbly judged performance from Simon.

June 24, 2006
Top Critic

Ladies who have such temptations -- in straight horror pictures, at least -- should exercise their digits a bit more freely than does Simone Simon in this film.

March 25, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cat People


I guess this must have been scary when it was released in 1942, but today it is definitely not scary at all and only seems terribly pretentious, trying to look more profound than it is and getting dull real fast with endless exposition and a lame protagonist played by an awful actress.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name, "The Black Cat" has a plot that many will not pay attention to. The real draw is having Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) onscreen, together, portrayed as foes. Read more at

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

I've always wanted to see this because I enjoyed the 1982 version of the same movie. I liked the '82 version more. This movie creates the setting that the scary parts are in your mind, not using visual blood and gore on screen. But the story seemed quite simplistic (maybe because I knew the story already??)

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

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