Directed by Alfred Shaughnessy
Written by Lou Rusoff
Starring : Barbara Shelly, Robert Ayres and Kay Callard
A young woman inherits a family curse that turns her into a murderous feline when she is angered.
Review :If you couldn't tell by the title, The Cat Girl is a fifties remake of Jacques Tourneur's 1942 Cat People. The film was produced in 1957 so by today's standards is remarkably tame, but it still more graphic that the earlier 1942 version and is a brash take on the subject. The loss of subtlety also means a loss of intrigue, and the intrigue was an important part of the original film. There is a strong psychological aspect to the film, with the heroine being convinced that she turns into a bloodthirsty leopard at night. As she accepts the curse she begins to see herself transforming during other times of stress, and it's never really clear whether or not the curse is real.
Just as in Cat People, the film relies strongly on the atmosphere and the director does a good job of ensuring that the film maintains a sinister feel. There are a few keys scenes in the film that stand out because of their directorial touches, but it never quite captures the highs of Jacques Tourneur's film. The night time scenes of the dreary, old house in the country and the dangerous alleyways of London's dockside are nicely filmed, with a great sense of atmosphere.
Barbara Shelley would go on to make a number of Hammer Horror Films, and does a great job as the lead role in this film. Her performance is not matched by the rather sluggish plot and Robert Ayres stiff performance. We didn't find out much about the curse in Cat People but it seemed inkeeping with the films style, whereas with Cat Girl's more brash take its seems less so. The films exploration of a woman's jealousy toward her husband's imagined unfaithfulness is exaggerated and although there are lots of reasons to doubt her husband's fidelity we never really get any resolution as to whether Shelley's character is a shapeshifter or simply crazy. There are scenes where we sees her hands turn into paws and a fuzzy cat image but they are rather silly and I felt that the film could have done without these scenes.
In Short :Not as good as Cat People but a decent little film in its own right.