The Cat and the Canary (1977)

UK, 1977
89m (Germany), 93m 55s (UK – video (1997)), 98m 9s (UK – theatrical), 8833 feet
35mm film, Colour by Technicolor, 1.85:1
mono, English

A British comedy horror film directed by Radley Metzger.

Plot Summary

At the height of a great storm, a group of prospective inheritors arrive at Glencliffe Manor to be harangued and abused from a portable cinema screen by recently deceased millionaire Cyrus West. While Annabel celebrates her luck at inheriting the family fortune, a murderous maniac is reported missing from the local asylum and, soon enough, ambulance chasing relatives are being killed off. Asylum director Hendricks arrives, and the chase is on to catch the masked killer before he gets to Annabel.


Director: Radley Metzger
© 1977 by Grenadier Films Ltd.
Made by: Grenadier Films Limited
Producer: Richard Gordon
Associate Producer: Ray Corbett
Screenplay by: Radley Metzger
Based on the play by: John Willard
Photographer: Alex Thomson
Film Editor: Roger Harrison
Music by: Steven Cagan
Sound Recordist: Clive Winter
Wardrobe: Monica Howe, Lorna Hillyard
Make-Up: Mary Hillman, Tommy Manderson
Hairdresser: Sarah Monzani
Art Directors: Anthony Pratt, John Hoesli
Made on location in Surrey, England

Honor Blackman (Susan Sillsby)
Michael Callan (Paul Jones)
Edward Fox (Hendricks)
Wendy Hiller (Allison Crosby)
Olivia Hussey (Cicily Young)
Beatrix Lehmann (Mrs Pleasant)
Carol Lynley (Annabelle West)
Daniel Massey (Harry Blythe)
Peter McEnery (Charlie Wilder)
Wilfrid Hyde-White (Cyrus West)

Alternative Titles

Le Chat et le canari – France
El gato y el canario – Spain
Il gatto e il canarino – Italy
Die Katze und der Kanarienvogel – West German title
Kissa ja kanarialintu – Finland

See also
The Cat and the Canary (1927)
The Cat and the Canary (1939)


Variety (22 November 1978) p.26
This time around, The Cat and the Canary seems plagued by schizophrenia, as though it couldn’t decide whether to emulate Neil Simon or William Castle. Because of this, audiences are always looking for the laughs, and that helps to make the “scary” scenes lose their punch. Still, audiences looking for laughs will have little trouble finding them. […] The supporting performances are less than inspiring, and Willard’s plot is pedestrian compared to the complicated machinations of modern-day mystery films. However, the success of the Agatha Christie releases of late may help draw audiences more interested in style than substance: Metzger’s direction is faithful to the genre, and Alex Thompson’s photography sports a lushness similar to and evocative of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. – from a review by Bian

The Guardian 12 February 1981
Radley Metzger’s version of The Cat and the Canary […] is awful. – from a review by Derek Malcolm

The Daily Telegraph 13 February 1981
The Cat and the Canary
was originally a play, and although several films have been made from it including one with Bob Hope, it persists in still looking very stagey in a new version directed by Radley Metzger. – from a review by Patrick Gibbs

The Financial Times 13 February 1981
[I]t looks a trifle hand-me-down, set in a sparsely furnished stately home where the patter of tiny bailiffs’ feet never seems far away. But the script is briskly funny and the second-magnitude star cast act up a first-magnitude storm […] [I]t’s a fine old folly of whodunit movie-making. – from a review by Nigel Andrews

The Times 13 February 1981
It is a dawdling and less suspenseful attempt to ape René Clair’s 1945 And Then There Was None [sic]. – from a review by Nicolas Wapshot

Daily Star 19 February 1981
[F]or edge-of-the-seat film fans only. It is a good, old-fashioned chiller. – from a review by Alan Frank

Catholic Herald 20 February 1981
Always a nonsensical exercise in fear, suspense and surprise, with a first-rate English cast, it still works. – from a review by Freda Bruce Lockhart

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.48 no.566 (March 1981) p.45
[D]espite an occasional visual felicity – startling fish-eye close-up of Beatrix Lehmann, an enormous shadow casting its profile over the facade of the mansion – there is a pronounced depreciation of both tension and wit. ‘Glencliffe Manor’, rather too patently a stately home rented to the film crew on condition that its interior not be unduly disturbed, is woefully undercast as an old dark house; and so mechanically are the characters shunted through its indistinguishable rooms and corridors that one is surprised not to see the parquet marked off in neat little squares, as on a Cluedo board. – from a review by Gilbert Adair



  • Films in Review vol.30 no.1 (January 1979) pp.56-57 – review (by Wm. K. Everson)
  • The Listener vol.105 n2700 (19 February 1981) p.257 – review (by Gavin Millar)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.48 no.566 (March 1981) p.45 – credits, synopsis, review (by Gilbert Adair)
  • Screen International no.61 (6 November 1976) p.1 – note
  • Screen International no.64 (27 November 1976) p.14 – credits
  • Screen International no.69 (8 January 1977) p.8 – illustrated interview with Richard Gordon (Why I make films in Britain by Raymond Leader)
  • Screen International no.281 (28 February 1981) p.18 – note
  • Starburst no.313 August 2004) p.102 – DVD review (by David Richardson)
  • Variety (22 November 1978) p.26 – credits, review (by Bian)


  • Catholic Herald 20 February 1981 – review (by Freda Bruce Lockhart)
  • Daily Star 19 February 1981 – review (by Alan Frank)
  • The Daily Telegraph 13 February 1981 – review (by Patrick Gibbs)
  • The Financial Times 13 February 1981 – review (by Nigel Andrews)
  • The Guardian 12 February 1981 – review (by Derek Malcolm)
  • The Times 13 February 1981 – review (by Nicolas Wapshot)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.326-327 – illustrated credits, review
  • Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008 by Bruce G. Hallenbeck p.218 – credits
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.10, 269, 368
  • Film Review 1981-1982 – by F. Maurice Speed p.147 – credits
  • The Film’s of the Eighties by Robert A.Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.84-85 – credits, synopsis
  • Ghosts and Angels in Hollywood Films by James Robert Parish pp.50-54 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.53
  • The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon by Tom Weaver pp.190-211 – illustrated credits, synopsis, interview with Richard Gordon
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.47-48