The Cat and the Canary (1939)

USA, 1939
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, English

An American comedy horror film directed by Elliott Nugent.

Plot Summary

Ten years after the death of millionaire Cyrus Norman his six remaining relatives are assembled at his New Orleans’ mansion for the reading of the will. Joyce is appointed sole heir but a second will has been prepared in the event that she falls foul of the families curse of insanity. Meanwhile homicidal maniac “The Cat” has escaped from prison, and the maid is claiming that the spirits have told her that during the night one of the relatives will die…


* = uncredited

Directed by: Elliott Nugent
Copyright MCMXXXIX [1939] by Paramount Pictures Inc.
A Paramount picture
Produced by: Arthur Hornblow Jr
Screen Play by: Walter DeLeon and Lynn Starling
Based on the Stage Play by: John Willard
Photographed by: Charles Lang
Edited by: Archie Marshek
Music Score by: Ernst Toch
Musical Adviser: Andrea Setaro
Sound Recording: Philip Wisdom and Richard Olson
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Costumes: Edith Head
Art Direction by: Hans Dreier and Robert Usher
Interior Decorations: A.E. Freudeman

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)
William Abbey [The Cat] *
Milton Kibbee [photographer] *
Charles Lane [reporter] *
Frank Melton [reporter] *
Nick Thompson [Indian guide] *
Chief Thundercloud [Indian guide] *

Alternative Titles

Le Chat et le canari – France
Erbschaft um Mitternacht – West Germany
Il fantasma di mezzanotte – Italy
El gato y el canario – Spain
Oi katakomves tou tromou – Greece
Katten og kanariefuglen – Denmark
Kummitusyö РFinland
Le mystère de la maison Norman РBelgium (French), France
Das Testament des Dr. Norman – Austria

Extracts included in
Bob Hope at 100 (2003)

See also
The Cat and the Canary (1927)
The Cat and the Canary (1977)



  • Kine Weekly no.1694 (5 October 1939) – review
  • Kine Weekly no.1884 (27 May 1943) – review
  • Kine Weekly no.2392 (30 April 1953) p.21 – review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.137 no.4 (28 October 1939) – review
  • Photoplay vol.53 no.12 (December 1939) p.62 – review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.53 no.4321 (4 October 1939) – review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.60 no.4881 (25 May 1943) – review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.80 no.6744 24 April 1953 p.11 – review


  • Evening Standard 22 May 1943 – review (by Paul Trench)
  • News Chronicle 7 October 1939 – review (author not known)
  • The Sunday Times 8 October 1939 – review (author not known)
  • The Times 9 October 1939 – review (author not known)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.67 – illustrated credits, review
  • Censored Screams: The British Ban on Hollywood Horror in the Thirties by Tom Johnson p.156 – note
  • A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series by Ken Hanke pp.113-115; 118
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.29, 39, 310
  • Ghosts and Angels in Hollywood Films by James Robert Parish pp.50-54 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography, 1931-1939 by Bryan Sennp.433-434
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.75
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.59 – credits
  • Sound Films, 1927-1939: A United States Filmography Volume 1 by Alan G. Fetrow p.91 – credits, review