“In other words. You suspect me of turning myself into a cat, merely to kill a harmless old man.”
In 1896, Author Charles Regnier returns to Paris after having been away for two years. He has traveled to exotic places. While away he had suffered an illness that still plagues him from time to time. He still has headaches and memory losses. There are lapses of time where he does not remember where he was or what he did.
Charles has authored a new book. The subject is about a man who kills people in an unusual way. They are clawed to death. This "Catman" is supposedly a fictional character. The authorities are suspicious of Charles. His book is far too similar to an actual murder case that the authorities want to keep under wraps.
An official, Devereau, who had been working on some secret documents concerning the case, is murdered. He is strangled and clawed to death. The police question Charles. The police prefect (Fritz Feld) believes a supernatural creature called a Catman is responsible. Inspector Severen (Gerald Mohr) does not. He believes it is old fashioned murder.
The next night Charles tells his fiancé Marguerite Duval (Adele Mara) that he wishes to break off their engagement. She refuses. Later that night she is murdered by the Catman. Charles is in love with Marie Audet (Lenore Aubert) and she is love with him. They are together in a restaurant when they hear about Marguerite’s death. Four men in the restaurant try to detain him. He beats the crap out of them.
Charles’ friend Henry Borchard (Douglass Dumbrille) and Marie hide out at a mansion owned by one of Henry’s friends with Charles. Charles now believes that during the lapses in memory he killed both Devereau and Marguerite. He believes he is the Catman.
“The Catman of Paris” was released in 1946 and was directed by Lesley Selander. The movie started out very interesting. The death of Devereau was spooky and the added images of the black cat and the shadows flickering over the gas lit streets of Paris were eerie. After that the movie kind of bogged down. There was a little action during the fist fight at the restaurant but it didn’t go with the horror aspects of the movie. I did enjoy the police high speed chase with horses and carriages. I also liked the Catman make-up even though you only saw it at the end. One of the things the movie needed was more Catman and less confused Charles.
I’m not sure what the problem was but the movie seemed to be uneven. It didn’t flow. It seemed like it wasn’t sure what kind of movie it wanted to be. A horror movie, a melodrama, a gothic romance, a time displaced western.
There’s a lot of criticism surrounding the movie in it being similar to “Cat People” done just a few years earlier. That’s the least of its worries. Altogether the movie starts out good, but falls apart quickly.