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(aka "La Mujer Pantera")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/Tourneur.htm
USA 1942

Tourneur's 1942 Cat People is one of those rare films that has an indefinable appeal - it unwittingly achieved cultish status while leaving a very long-lasting impression on those who see it. It expressed its unusual plot with such a degree of garish suspense while at the same time underachieving the lurid posters that drew its crowds to the theatre. With a low budget and virtually no special effects it is still quite haunting even by modern standards. There is a slight inference of feline/feminine disdain and outright fear of women, but its is a bit of a stretch. The feminine mystique of the film is till very prevalent though and perhaps this is its appeal. With a macguffin-like horror  that is never disclosed and it has under-discussed origins. Because of its age Cat People would be easy to dismiss with poor production values and unrealistic performances, but the hidden appeal of the film does not seem to diminish even when you become impatiently aware of these limitations. Probably its biggest flaw is that it is too short... hence the sequel; The Curse of the Cat People. Cat People contains many basic elements of screen horror that are obviously duplicated today and my many is regarded as a clandestine classic. I agree.

***

The first of the horror films producer Val Lewton made for RKO Pictures redefined the genre by leaving its most frightening terrors to its audience’s imagination. Simone Simon stars as a Serbian émigré in Manhattan who believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves (Kent Smith) will turn her into a feline predator. Lewton, a consummate producer-auteur who oversaw every aspect of his projects, found an ideal director in Jacques Tourneur, a chiaroscuro stylist adept at keeping viewers off-kilter with startling compositions and psychological innuendo. Together, they eschewed the canned effects of earlier monster movies in favor of shocking with subtle shadows and creative audio cues. One of the studio’s most successful movies of the 1940s, Cat People raised the creature feature to new heights of sophistication and mystery.

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 16th, 1942

Reviews                                                                         More Reviews                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Warner Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC vs. Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection #11) - Region 2- PAL vs. IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Pieter Boven for the Montparnasse screen captures!

1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP LEFT

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC TOP SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP RIGHT

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM LEFT

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

Cat People and Curse of the Cat people come together individually as well as in the Lewton Boxset

Comes in the Val Lewton Horror Collection (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark) :

           

Distribution

Warner's Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Manga Films

Region 2 - PAL

Editions Montparnasse

Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 2 - PAL

   

Also released on Blu-ray by Criterion in the UK one week later:

IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #833 - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

Distribution

Warner's Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Manga Films

Region 2 - PAL

Editions Montparnasse

Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 2 - PAL

IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #833 - Region 'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 1.12.38 1:12:30 (4% PAL speedup) 1:12:21 (4% PAL speedup) 1:09:03 (4% PAL speedup) 1:13:04.797 1:12:55.537
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1.00 Original Aspect ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.64 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 9.11 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Disc Size: 20,445,100,590 bytes

Feature Size: 20,333,389,824 bytes

Average Bitrate: 33.63 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

1.33:1 Disc Size: 47,706,664,196 bytes

Feature Size: 21,501,892,608 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Warner

Bitrate:

Manga

 

Bitrate:

 

Montparnasse

 

Bitrate:

 

Kinowelt

 

Bitrate IVC:

 

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate Criterion:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono) , DUB: Spanish (DD 1.0)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None Spanish, and none French, and none German, and none Japanese, None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner's Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Greg Mank featuring Simone Simon
• Theatrical trailer

 

Comes in the Lewton boxset or individually with Curse of the Cat People see HERE

DVD Release Date: Oct. 4, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Manga Films (Spain)

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Filmography and Bio of Tourneur and Simon as text screens (in Spanish only)

DVD Release Date:  July 25th, 2000
Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Editions Montparnasse

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Cat People (1942) + extras on disc 1
• I Walked with a Zombie (1943) + The Leopard Man (1943) on disc 2
• about 1 hour of interviews, in French without subtitles
• 16 page booklet, in French
• English trailers for Top Hat (1935), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Stagecoach (1939)

 

DVD Release Date: November 4, 2003
Custom Box

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Kinowelt

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (1:20)

• 12-page booklet with photos and essay (in German)
 

DVD Release Date: September 16th 2010
Hardcover Bookstyle case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Video: IVC (Japan)
 

1.33:1 Disc Size: 20,445,100,590 bytes

Feature Size: 20,333,389,824 bytes

Average Bitrate: 33.63 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Extras:

• 11X18 folded poster (cover) with Japanese text on the reverse

Chapters: 10
Blu-ray release date: February 26th, 2016

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

1.33:1 Disc Size: 47,706,664,196 bytes

Feature Size: 21,501,892,608 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film historian Gregory Mank, with excerpts from an audio interview with actor Simone Simon
• Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a 2008 feature-length documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary Hollywood producer (1:16:04)
• Interview with director Jacques Tourneur from 1979 (26:37)
• New interview with cinematographer John Bailey about the look of the film (16:36)
• Trailer (1:04)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Blu-ray Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Transparent Keep case

Chapters: 12

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray August 16': I don't have too much to add - the Criterion is cited as a "New 2K digital restoration" and the improvement in the black levels is highly evident. It looks great in-motion - very film like - rich - clean and some depth is exported. It's heads and tails above the Japanese 1080P. There is some movement in the frame with the Criterion appearing to lose some information but recall the Japanese RKO Blu-rays often show rounded-corners. The Criterion transfer has a max'ed out bitrate on a dual-layered disc.

Another linear PCM 2.0 channel (full 24-bit - the IVC is 16-bit). A few panther growls exported some, unsettling, depth and intensity. The original score is by Roy Webb (I Walked With a Zombie, Clash by Night, I Married a Witch, This Is Cinerama, Easy Living, The Window, Journey Into Fear, etc.) and sounds mysterious and suspenseful via the uncompressed. The disc offers optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

Criterion add some important extras - we get the audio commentary from 2005 featuring film historian Gregory Mank, with excerpts from an audio interview with actor Simone Simon and the full 1 1/4 hour Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a 2008 documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary Hollywood producer. It's wonderful written and directed by author, filmmaker, and New York Festival director Kent Jones, is presented and narrated by Martin Scorsese. We get a 26-minute interview with director Jacques Tourneur from a 1979 French television program entitled Cine regards where the director was interviewed at his home and discusses family, his move to America and his collaboration with producer Val Lewton (in French with optional English subtitles.) Criterion have produced a new 16-minute interview with cinematographer John Bailey about how director of photography Nicholas Musuraca achieved the look of Cat People. There is also a, cool, short trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

Quite an easy decision - who doesn't want this? The Criterion Blu-ray is an essential part of any digital library and has our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray (February 2016): Firstly, Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films says that they bought the rights to the RKO catalog for the countries outside France (thanks Julien!). It means that all the RKO films released by IVC have been mastered by Lobster Films and won't be sold in France. They do indeed start with the Lobster Films logo.

I'm running out of things to say beyond what you can by simply viewing the captures. I do think that this source is not in as good a condition as the IVC BD of I Walked With a Zombie. More speckles, more frame-specific damage (see sample) and it may be slightly horizontally stretched. The German PAL DVD (a shade thin and possibly boosted) may actually be a bit tighter but the 1080P has the richer, film-like, textures.

Only a folded poster as an extra - so, it is pricey and despite my adoration of this film, I can more definitively say 'pass' this time. The positives don't outweigh the source limitations - although it also can be appealing in many scenes augmenting the film's haunting qualities more dynamically. Perhaps Warner can make us content with a Blu-ray edition soon!

NOTE: The question of whether the degree of improvement is worth the cost for a bare-bones Blu-ray - is your own - for many the answer will be 'no'. Others may see value in the a/v advancement not finding the, converted currency, price prohibitive. To each his own. IMO, Don't feel obligated simply because you love and appreciate these RKO films.

***

ADDITION - Kinowelt - Region 2- PAL - December 2010' : Wow, this dual-layered Kinowelt (#11 in their 'Arthaus Collection' series), with extremely high bitrate, has the best image transfer. Contrast and detail dramatically improve over the other PAL discs and it even advances upon the Warner in certain areas. The weakness I would say is that the source is not as polished as the NTSC DVD - with plenty of speckles and noticeable frame-specific scratches. The source seems clean on a surface level but looks to require some form of restoration - this is probably where Warner's digital process is advantageous. Still, aside from light damage, I have never seen Cat People look this crisp. It was such a pleasure to revisit and I'd love to see it reach Blu-ray one day - but this seems improbable anytime soon. I should note that this has a German translated title card (see in the menu samples) and also Dr. Louis Judd quote that prefaces, and ends, the film.

Unfortunately, over the years I believe I have become sensitive to PAL speedup - which I find apparent in the slightly higher-pitched voices (actually the other PAL discs look to be from unconverted NTSC sources). There is a German DUB offered and German subtitles but you can choose original English and no subs as a viewing option. Only a beat up trailer and some Arthaus Collection adverts are extras.

Those very keen on Cat People, not interested in the Warner extras or Lewton box, and are PAL-locked or less-sensitive to the 4% speed-up - this is a very reasonable option (less than $12 USD!) that will supply a wonderful presentation of a pure classic! 

 - Gary W. Tooze

***

ADDITION - Warner (From Lewton Boxset) - Oct 05' : The transfer: This is the type of disc we’ve come to expect from Warner Video. Sharp transfers on both features exhibit some incredible black levels, which properly display these films as “black and white” movies and leave behind the palette of foggy grays as seen on the previous Cat People DVDs. There are moments of occasional print damage, but nothing to complain about. As a double feature, these films couldn’t be more different, but as a crash course in the themes and styles of the Lewton cycle, you couldn’t ask for better.

The audio: Each transfer sounds relatively the same, and depending if you are listening to these through your TV set or through a home sound system, your impressions might vary. Each film is presented with a mono audio track. Played through your set this audio can sound a little flat and muted, but played through a sound system (which I assume it was optimized for) the audio is clear. A picky observation perhaps, but something for you to keep in mind before viewing.

Extras: The commentary by Greg Mank on both films is interesting at first, but Mank seems to run of material as the films movie on. I’m beginning to think that more DVDs would benefit by the style of commentary utilized by the BFI on their Buńuel boxset, wherein the disc skips only to major passages of the film and the commentary takes on a more focused and analytical approach. As an added bonus, Mank utilizes audio clips of the lovely Simone Simon – who sadly passed away earlier this year – with her unmistakable voice ruminating on life behind the scenes. Theatrical trailers are also present.

 - Adam Lemke

***

The Montparnasse is smoother, cleaner and brighter but has taken some of the detail out of the image (see large capture below with "key in lock"). I couldn't spot any edge enhancement or significant contrast boosting in either edition - although I would bet that the Montparnasse has some degree of both. The Montparnasse comes in a Tourneur Boxset with some viable extras in comparison to the Manga. This may not be a deal breaker of transfer disparity for you. Personally, although I like the slightly darker Manga print, I would say overall the Montparnasse is the way to go. It has less grain, but too many pluses to ignore (ex. the 5.1 upgraded audio option and the unsubtitled interviews). Image: my choice is to stick with my slightly sharper and grainier Manga DVD.

NOTE: We seem to have a ratio problem as well as faces look decidedly thinner (fatter on opposing) on the Montparnasse DVD. I have no real way of knowing which is correct.

 - Gary W. Tooze

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

DVD Menus

Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC

 



(Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC LEFT vs. Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Warner's Video (Val Lewton Horror Double Feature part of) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Manga Films - Region 2 - PAL - NTSC SECOND

3) Editions Montparnasse (Jacques Tourneur Box) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Kinowelt (Arthaus Collection # 11) - Region 2 - PAL - FOURTH

5) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Frame specific damage

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Criterion Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion  Blu-ray
Box Covers

 

Cat People and Curse of the Cat people come together individually as well as in the Lewton Boxset

Comes in the Val Lewton Horror Collection (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark) :

           

Distribution

Warner's Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Manga Films

Region 2 - PAL

Editions Montparnasse

Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 2 - PAL

   

Also released on Blu-ray by Criterion in the UK one week later:

IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #833 - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

 

directed by Robert Wise & Gunther V. Fritsch
USA 1944

Officially a sequel to Lewton's 1942 chiller classic Cat People, this has some of the same characters as the previous film but offers a completely different perspective - that of a child. Carter is the disturbed little girl who lives in a dream world, conjuring up an imaginary playmate. Simon is Irena, the ghost of her father's first wife, who nine out of ten cats prefer. Marvellously eloquent, and touchingly accurate in accessing the secret landscape of a child's mind.

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1944

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                            DVD Reviews

 

DVD Review: Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Adam Lemke for the Review!

Cat People and Curse of the Cat people come together individually as well as in the Lewton Boxset

Comes in the Val Lewton Horror Collection (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark) :

Distribution

Warner Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1.09.46
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Stereo
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Greg Mank, featuring Simone Simon
• Theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: Oct. 4, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 21
 


DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

Box Covers

 

Cat People and Curse of the Cat people come together individually as well as in the Lewton Boxset

Comes in the Val Lewton Horror Collection (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark) :

           

Distribution

Warner's Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Manga Films

Region 2 - PAL

Editions Montparnasse

Region 2 - PAL

Kinowelt

Region 2 - PAL

   

Also released on Blu-ray by Criterion in the UK one week later:

IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #833 - Region 'A' Blu-ray




 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gary Tooze