Friday, December 21, 2012


Why this nifty little thriller is so forgotten and nowhere to be found today is a mystery. It's really a rather intriguing, if sometimes uneven, attempt at mixing Hitchcockian suspense with the kind of supernatural theater of the macabre one might associate with an old episode of Night Gallery. Prior to its release in theaters, Universal Studios generated considerable public interest with TV ads which prominently featured a scene depicting a little old lady in a runaway wheelchair careening helplessly towards traffic (backwards yet!) down a particularly precipitous slope of one of San Francisco's many hills. As a San Francisco resident at the time, these commercials made Eye of the Cat the must-see movie of the summer of '69 as far as I was concerned.
This one scene, which owes more than a passing nod to Hitchcock, is enough to make Eye of the Cat a must-see

To clarify, said “little old lady” is three-time Oscar-nominee Eleanor Parker, who was just 46 at the time. Although unfamiliar to me then, Parker, this being just four years after her glamorous turn as the Baroness inThe Sound of Music, was another talented actress "of a certain age" (a la Jennifer Jones, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Bette Davis, and Tallulah Bankhead) who found herself prematurely relegated to “horror hag” roles in youth-centric '60s thrillers that took as a given audiences finding women over the age of 30 to be as grotesque as Hollywood apparently did.
Eye of the Cat was one of the earliest films to exploit the subtle malevolence and flagrant creep-out factor of packs of animals. A trend that blossomed into a full-blown horror sub-genre in the '70s with films like Willard, Empire of the Ants, Kingdom of the Spiders, and the laughably non-threatening Night of the Lepus (giant bunnies!). I saw Eye of the Cat at San Francisco's Embassy Theater on Market Street, and could hardly contain my anticipation. Not being much of a fan of cats (that has since changed) the movie fairly gave me the willies, and, in short, scared the hell out of me...but that didn't stop me from sitting through it three times.
Gayle Hunnicutt as Kassia Lancaster
"Just another beautiful girl with all the wrong values."
Michael Sarrazin as Wylie
"In good mirrors you can see that once I was disastrously beautiful." 
Eleanor Parker as Aunt Danielle (Aunt Danny)
"Nowadays you can't depend on natural causes."
Tim Henry as Luke
"It's not a good idea to take cats lightly."
Joseph Stefano, screenwriter of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, penned this original screenplay about feline seductress Kassia Lancaster (“It sounds like a cell door slamming shut.”) and her plot to secure the fortune of an ailing San Francisco matron (Parker) by returning to the lonely dowager her beloved derelict nephew, Wylie (Sarrazin), and arranging for her subsequent murder once her will has been altered in his favor. Danielle (or Aunt Danny as she's affectionately/derisively known) is a near-invalid suffering from acute emphysema and lives in a cavernous San Francisco mansion with Wylie’s younger brother, Luke (newcomer Tim Henry), who waits on her in apathetic servitude, and roughly a hundred overprotective cats, the sole benefactors of her will. Kassia's diabolical plan hits a major snag when it's discovered that Wylie, the linchpin of the whole operation, is plagued by crippling ailurophobia: a deathly fear of cats.
In addition to this feline homage to Psycho, Eye of the Cat features an atmospheric
score by Lalo Schifrin (Cool Hand Luke) with Bernard Herrmann overtones

Eye of the Cat is not really the “When Good Animals Go Bad” creature-features thriller its title would suggest (a plus, I might add) but rather an intriguing attempt to modernize those murder and passion crime thrillers that once typified film noir (Gayle Hunnicutt, with mounds of big, '60s hair, is a terrifically ruthless femme fatale) combined with the supernatural chill-thrill of say, classic horror of Val Lewton (Cat People). I’d like to report the experiment was wholly successful, but it kind of loses steam in the middle, only to end just as it’s becoming the shuddery thrill ride it should have been all along. Perhaps in more resourceful hands than those of director David Lowell Rich (The Concord… Airport ’79, need I say more?), Stefano’s somewhat colorless script could have lived up to the promise of the film’s sensational (silent) pre-credits sequence.
Eye of the Cat gets off to a very winning start by way of a stylish expository pre-credits sequence that mirrors the
collage/split-screen opening sequence of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and predates Brian De Palmas's subsequent appropriation of the stylized visual device

The raw material is certainly there: an enigmatic villainess; the San Francisco setting (a wonderful city for thrillers—the picturesque angles of all those hills never fails to unsettle); the misleadingly simple murder scheme; the probable subterfuge and concealed motives behind virtually each action engaged in by every character at all times; and the fascination of cats and their inherent mystery. But perhaps it's because there IS such a rich mine of suspense/chiller material to vein that makes one wish Joseph Stefano's script were more up to the task set forth by the premise. Luckily, Eye of the Cat's gratuitously cryptic dialogue is delivered by a better-than-average cast, all of whom appear gleefully game for this kind of psycho-fright stuff; and the enjoyably peevish malevolence at the heart of the story greatly mitigates Mr. Stefano's penchant for trying to generate mystery by leaving his characters and their motivations underdeveloped and unexplored to a maddening degree.
A Way With The Older Ladies
That's Mark Herron, Judy Garland's 4th husband (2nd gay husband, for those keeping score) sporting the ankh pendant and parakeet green Nehru jacket. He has a small role as Belomondo, the owner of an elite San Francisco beauty salon

Canines (the four-legged kind) can be scary in real life, but for a dog to scare me onscreen, it has to be either one of those dogs with a face like a fist (a Rottweiler or a Pit Bull) or one of those wolf-snout dogs like in Samuel Fuller's White Dog. Cats, on the other hand, merely have to be themselves. Cute or creepy, cats introduce an element of uncertainty just by showing up, and they always appear to be operating under their own mysterious, sinister agendas. This calls to mind a Night Gallery episode I once saw that made use of a quote from Samuel Butler’s novel, Erewhon: “Even a potato in a dark cellar has a certain low cunning about him which serves him in excellent stead.” If ever two words perfectly summed up my impression of cats, it’s the words “low cunning.”
 Pussy Galore
The animal wrangler/trainer for the armies of felines used in Eye of the Cat is the late Ray Berwick, who also served as the bird trainer on Hitchcock's The Birds. In 1986 Berwick shared his techniques in the well-received book The Complete Guide to Training Your Cat.

My long-held distrust of cats played into the effectiveness of Eye of the Cat the same way a childhood spent in Catholic schools played into my enjoyment of Rosemary’s Baby the year before: it wasn't compulsory, but it helped. And what I like about both films is that in their basic structure, they work perfectly fine whether one buys into the supernatural angle or not.
Eye of the Cat generates genuine tension as a crime caper thriller, keeps you guessing as a psychological suspense flick, and works your nerves as a supernatural horror film about potentially pernicious pussycats. With so many plots to juggle, Eye of the Cat can perhaps be forgiven the mood-killing miscalculations of throwing in an obligatory '60s party scene and a lengthy “love montage.” (For some reason, the '70s was the era of the romantic montage. This cheap and economic go-to device for writers unable to plausibly convey a developing romance has ground many a promising film to a grinding halt. Perhaps the worse offender being Clint Eastwood’s 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, in which a pretty good suspense thriller takes a 20-minute nap while Clint gives us a Carmel, California travelogue and infomercial for The Monterey Jazz Festival.)
What's New, Pussycat?

As a longtime fan of glamorous tough broads in movies, it’s obvious why Gayle Hunnicutt’s Kassia Lancaster is my favorite character in the film. She states early on, “I’m not afraid of anything!” and spends the rest of the movie proving it. Dangerous, self-assured, authoritative, and without a doubt the strongest, smartest character in the film; female characters of her stripe would become extremely rare in the '70s as male-dominated “buddy films” grew in popularity. The fantastic-looking Gayle Hunnicutt gives an assured performance whose measured severity plays nicely off of Michael Sarrazin's more easygoing passivity.
I love that we're introduced to Kassia as she's licking her fingers
 and grooming herself like a cat

Eleanor Parker looks wonderful and is very good in an underwritten part which casts her unsympathetically with little foundation. Typed as a salacious older woman, Parker certainly doesn't embarrass herself as Jennifer Jones did in a similar role in Angel, Angel, Down We Go that same year, but in having already played a horny older woman on the make in 1965's The Oscar, one wishes the ceaselessly classy actress had found something else to do if this was the only kind of role Hollywood was throwing her way.
The loss of two-thirds of her lung tissue barely puts a crimp in Aunt Danielle's libidinous, incestuous urges. Here she's seen languishing in that oxygen tent from Harlow in what appears to be the bed from (I'm sure intentionally) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I love a thriller that keeps me guessing, and Eye of the Cat is splendid at throwing so many red herrings and false clues into the pot that no matter where you think the film is headed, it veers elsewhere. But as good a film as it is, and as much as I found it scary and suitably creepy as a pre-teen, I'd be lying if I said that the prodigious amount of male flesh on display in Eye of the Cat didn't in part inspire those multiple viewings at The Embassy back in 1969.

 Perhaps in an effort to convey his character's freewheeling ways, Michael Sarrazin spends a great deal of the film shirtless or with nudity artfully concealed. Similarly, dreamboat material co-star Tim Henry (bottom pic with Eleanor Parker) adds a touch of homoerotic interest to a film already overflowing with adultery, promiscuity and possible incest. Hooray for Hollywood in the '60s!

A highlight of Eye of the Cat are its photogenic San Francisco locations. From The Birds, to Vertigo, to What's Up, Doc?, movies shot in San Francisco invariably gain nostalgia points from me. Eye of the Cat makes good use of locales that establish a dynamic sense of time and place.
A rear-projection shot of San Francisco's Market Street. To the left, the Paris Adult Theater
Vina Del Mar Park in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge.
The park was a big hippie hangout in the late '60s

The site of the film's centerpiece scene is the ritzy Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. Specifically the hill on Octavia Street and Washington beside the landmark 1912 Spreckles Mansion. The top photo is as it appears today, below, a screencap showing how the wall looked before the overgrown hedges.

Eye of the Cat is no classic, but it's a dynamo of a thriller that doesn't deserve its relative obscurity. It certainly holds up for me after all these years, and still packs a punch despite my having overcome my own youthful antipathy toward cats.
"They do come back...."
Copyright © Ken Anderson


  1. KA: Thanks for this shout-out! EotC used to play a lot on local NYC TV in the late-1970s, then phhht! It disappeared. I remember enjoying it, but never remembering anything specific about it. Oh well, we may not yet find out either...

  2. Hi Ivan
    I think that most of the people who know of this movie at all only know it from the TV version, which is very different from the feature version. I have a copy of the uncut feature edit, but the quality is not great. I hope this movie gets the "Made to order" DVD treatment soon so maybe your memory will be jogged a bit. Thanks so much for dropping in! I really enjoy your cinema site: Pinnland Empire.

  3. I have been waiting, quite literally, since 1986 to see this film. It is NUMBER ONE on my Holy Grail wish list of movies to see. And I while I deeply appreciate this post, the captures, the info (and as always, the insight!), I must say that when I finally do see it, I want it to be in widescreen and with full color/contrast, etc... That day will be one of the happiest of my life! I mean, it was released by Universal Pictures... how hard can it be to get it out there?!?! But it gives me something to hope for. :-)

    1. I've known two individuals who have worked in the DVD release and market departments of two different studios, and both were essentially business/marketing people with no love or affection for films. They base their decisions (understandably) exclusively on market potential. Neither really knew much about film history or cinema culture. I've always thought if a real film aficionado had a say in what films get a DVD release, we'd have a lot more interesting films out there. Warners seems to be doing pretty well in this (with their made to order DVD service) but Universal needs to dig this one up!

  4. Incidentally, Night of the Lepus is what's playing on TV when Neo goes to see the Oracle.

    1. Ha! I've never seen any of The Matrix films myself, but I knew someone with a near-religious fascination with the films who once told me this when we were speaking of bad 70s horror films. I'd forgotten that bit of trivia!

  5. It's so frustrating about how DVDs are marketed/released. I've never seen this film and, unless it pops up on late-night cable or gets a lucky showing in a revival house, see little chance of ever seeing it. The late 60s seems to have been a time of the pseudo-Hitchcock thriller (I recall "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" being advertised as a Hitchcock-like shocker, without the real director's name ever being mentioned). My guess is that's due in part to the auteur theory beginning to take off in the U.S. at that time, along with the publication of the Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews in 1965.

    On another note, I'm always amazed at how cats are portrayed in films as mysterious, devious, threatening, etc. As a lifelong cat lover who lives with two cats, I can confidently assert that cats are DIVAS through and through. Perhaps that's where the mystery comes in -- like real divas, their demands are always changing, and we are always trying to keep up with them!

    1. Your comment about "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" reminds me of the days when there were a slew of films from the 70s that marketed themselves as "Hitchcockian" ("You'll Like My Mother", "Four Flies on Grey Velvet") as some kind of short cut classification.
      Regarding obscure films released to DVD, every film fan I know has expressed frustration at non-essential product like "Big Momma's House" and "Big Momma's House II" clogging the DVD shelves, and so many interesting and obscure film languishing I the vaults (I'm still waiting for Robert Altman's "Come Back to the Five and Dime"). It's crazy.
      By the way I LOVE that you nailed the true cat nature ...DIVA! My partner likes cats, and over the years my apprehension towards them has changed to this amusement born of watching an animal that always operates from its own demands first. I can watch them for hours!
      Always nice to hear from you...Thanks!

  6. When I saw a picture in a book of Gayle Hunnicut in "the Eye of the Cat", with the mounds of 60's hair as you described, I just had to see it. It looked so great with the wide hair band in it!

    I finally found a copy at modcinema and got to see the film. I later found out that the version I saw was the one edited for TV. The earlier cut shown in movie theaters is supposed to have a scarier ending and I guess that version would be better. Have you seen both versions?

    Gayle Hunnicut was one of those gorgeous 60's movie starlets that I adore. I don't remember much else from the film. She and Michael Sarazzin were so good looking but they seemed to fade away from Hollywood by the late 70's.


    1. Hello again Willie
      Yes. When Eye of the Cat was aired on TV in the 70s it was significantly re-edited and entire scenes jettisoned and replaced. This "edited for TV" version is the one that is most commonly known by most young people. I recall well the original theatrical version, so when I ordered a DVD copy of the film from Cinema De Bizarre, I was happy to find it to be the complete theatrical version. It seems to have been struck from perhaps a PAL vhs (if there is such a thing) so there is a slight speed up in pitch and the quality isn''t that great, but the film is complete. The full version keeps in the minor nudity and the a last half hour you'll find is almost completely reworked from how they softened it for TV. The ending is more gruesome and in keeping with the creep out mystery of it all. Worth hunting down if you liked the de-fanged TV version you saw (there's always hope that Universal will dig this one out of their vaults).
      I first saw Gayle Hunnicutt as this man-hating spy in an episode of TV's "Get Smart" and she was really a stunner. She and then hubby David Hemmings were quite the epitome of mod 60s glamour. Sarrazin was certainly poised for big-scale stardom with the kinds of roles he was given (and his own real-life association with Hunnicutt look-alike Jacqueline Bissett), but as you indicate, neither he nor Hunnicutt were able to extend their star momentum far into the 70s. Too bad, I think both are very charismatic. Thanks for stopping by again, Willie. With your appreciation of Hunnicutt and Julie Christie, I think you display great taste!),

  7. Ms. Hunnicut gets quite ferocious in The Legend of Hell House; and had a bit part in Corman's The Wild Angels where she really stood out because she was more beautiful than any of the other women around her. It was like, what's she doing there? Is she a slumming model? But I don't even think her character has any dialog.

    1. Hi Ivan
      I really loved your line: "What's she doing here? Is she a slumming model?"
      I've never seen "The Wild Angels" before, but had I seen Hunnicutt's glacial beauty among the usual cycle and leather set in this Roger Corman flick, those would have been my thoughts exactly!
      I had the pleasure of seeing "The Legend of Hell House" for the first time this year thanks to TCM. Roddy McDowall is always a chore, but I loved Hunnicutt and her hair. She has aged into a very striking older woman, but her look in the 60s/early 70s is very sensual. For some reason I had always assumed she was British. In researching this post, I was surprised to find she's a Texan, of all things.

  8. Thank you Ken! I now want to see the theatrical version of the film after what you wrote about the "de-fanged" TV-version.

    I want to recommend two more Gayle Hunnicut movies. In both "P.J." and "Marlowe" she is gorgeous. I find myself often watching "Marlowe" as it is a very entertaining movie. I'm surprised that she didn't get more roles in Hollywood movies since she was pretty and could act, but I think the early 70's was a bad time for actresses generally.


    1. Willie
      I'll take your recommendations to heart. I've not seen either film. Not too keen on either George Peppard or James Garner, but Hunnicutt is worth a look in anything. As you say, she was one of the few beauties of that time who could really act.
      A comment by a previous poster (Ivan) regarding just how distractingly beautiful she was may have played a part in the trajectory of her career. As 70's films became more naturalistic, her kind of lacquered good looks made her conspicuous in certain roles. (She does have a cute cameo in the so-bad-it's good, "The Love Machine").
      Thanks and good luck in seeking out the uncut "Eye of the Cat" you'll be surprised at the changes!

  9. I've been checking out your reviews of obscurities from time to time, and always find them most informative and engaging. I believe it was you who inspired me to order THE COOL ONES from the Warner Archive. EYE OF THE CAT sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, so now I gotta order a copy Cinema De Bizarre! Incidentally, director David Lowell Rich helmed one of my fave childhood telefilms, the WWII action drama DEATH RACE (1973), with a powerhouse cast including Lloyd Bridges, Roy Thinnes, Doug McClure and Eric Braeden. This is the one with the crippled Allied plane that tries to evade and destroy a pursuing Nazi tank. That might be one for a future blog entry!

    I will say that I'm puzzled over your seeming general distaste for Roddy McDowall; I find him to be a highly underrated, intense, nearly always believable actor, and when he's slumming, he really livens up otherwise unwatchable stuff like IT! (1966). I absolutely love his turn as the psycho unemployed stage actor in the Naked City episode THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

    1. Hi WaverBoy
      Thank you very much for your kind words about my blog. I'm glad that you visit the site from time to time, and happier still that my highlighting of a particular obscure film inspired you to seek out a copy of your own. For they are obscurities, to be sure.
      I'm unfamiliar with the TV movie you mentioned. So few of those are released on DVD, but I know that somewhere out there someone has a copy of it (perhaps YouTube...I should check).
      And alas, yes...Roddy McDowall is not exactly high on my list of actors, although he seems to appear in quite a large number of the films I like. I really liked him in "Evil Under the Sun" but that's about it. It's purely a matter of personal taste for me. I'm glad to hear you enjoy him in so many films. If you happen to get "Eye of the Cat" please stop by and let me know what you think. Enjoy, and thanks!

  10. Another one I NEED to see. Looks like it's right up my alley. I look forward to another Eleanor Parker performance (wasn't TCMs birthday roundup of Parker's films fun last week?), and I am also a big Michael Sarrazin fan. Are you familiar with The Reincarnation of Peter Proud?

    1. Another one that needs a decent DVD transfer! Your instincts are tight, I'm positive you would enjoy this film. (By the way, I totally missed the TCM roundup of Eleanor Parker films...I didn't even know about it!)
      As for "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud" that is a big fave of mine. I really love it, although I don't think it's very good. It's one of those weak films that I nevertheless find to be highly! I hope to write about it sometime. If it's a fave of yours, maybe i'll read about it on your blog!

    2. Ha! I don't like it well enough to write about it, or own it...but I like Michael Sarrazin, and the theme was spooky.

  11. Thanks for info. Was near Octavia and Washington today and thought of Eye of the Cat. Also was at Lafayette Park today Was that the park that was featured in the movie?

    1. You're welcome! And yes, that's Lafayette park used for the "meeting" sequence.

  12. Hi Ken,

    I hopped over from Poseidon's review of this literal creature feature. Like he I was able to finally catch up with it this week via YouTube and thought it was quite fun.

    Your memories of seeing it in the theatre on its original release add a nice patina of appropriate time and place to the picture.

    Once was enough for me but there was much to enjoy in the film though it really leaned more towards the soap operaish than the supernatural that I had been expecting. That was A-Okay by me since I find more pleasure in the former than the latter.

    I always forgot how stunning Gayle Hunnicutt was. Never being an important star of the period like Audrey Hepburn and fortunately not having a tragedy attached to her name like Sharon Tate she doesn’t show up in many of the recaps that look at the beauties of that time. Kudos should go to the makeup crew also, they had a lot to work with for sure but it’s great how they emphasized Gayle’s more feline qualities to enhance that connection to the main story.

    I’ve never been that impressed by Michael Sarrazin. It’s not that I don’t like him or think he’s a bad actor but neither is he an especially memorable one. He’s the sort of dependable type that would have done well back in the 40’s & 50’s being steamrolled over by a high powered leading lady such as Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck. For me his peak was in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? because he was ideally cast as the audience surrogate, his recessive presence was a perfect mirror for us to observe. In this he is again rather laid back but for someone who is supposed to be the focal point that doesn’t work as well, both Gayle and Eleanor dominate any scene they share with him. He’s in good shape, although he looks like he needs a sandwich throughout, and not shy at allowing himself to be used basically as a himbo but frankly Tim Henry as his brother has it all over him both in looks and, though its underused, personality. If I had one complaint about the film it’s that he should have been in more of it.

    Now we get to the reason we’re all here! Eleanor Parker works her part for all it was worth, too bad she was stuck under than monstrosity of a wig! She went through many different hair shades in her career but I think this might have been the least becoming. She emotes with everything she’s got in that wheelchair scene but otherwise plays it pretty much in line with the story.

    Even though as I said I don’t see myself returning to this particular well anytime soon I’m glad I finally was able to find it. Funny I’ve been trying to see all of Eleanor Parker’s films and I had pretty much resigned myself that this would be the last and most elusive so I was doubly pleased to stumble across it. Now if I could just find The Mysterious Doctor and The Last Ride from her early days!! I have a bead on the other three I'm missing.

  13. Hi Joel
    Thanks for bouncing over here from Poseidon's! Although I think I was aware of your desire to see the entire creative output of some of your favorite stars, I didn't know Eleanor Parker was on the list.
    For all the reason's you cite, I can't imagine this being a film more notable than one of those that grows precious due to its unavailability. Since it looks like it may never see a legitimate DVD release, its great that YouTube still has its fuzz copy up.
    As much as like like Sarrazin, I totally see your point. In later years (like when he appeared opposite Streisand in "For Pete's Sake" and I swore he was the same blank, nondescript actor she chose for "Up the Sandbox") he really did seem to turn fading into the scenery into an art form.
    However, Gayle Hunnicut is rather a gorgeous, underappreciated plus, and it's nice to hear you share a similar enthusiasm for her.
    Very enjoyable reading your thoughts on this movie, from Sarrazin needing a sandwich to Parker's unflattering wig. Always a pleasure, Joel...Thanks!

    1. Oh Ken how could I leave the fab Miss Parker off my list!! For the most part she’s lead me a merry journey through her films with some delightful surprises along the way (I loved the soapy goodness of The Seventh Sin & The Voice of the Turtle was adorable even with that jackass Reagan in it), and the ones I have left don’t look like they contain any real landmines. She’s never lead me down dark paths to schlock like the dreadful Mansion of the Doomed (Gloria Grahame), the claptrap Babes in Bagdad (Paulette Goddard) nor the outright bottom of the barrel Flesh Feast (Veronica Lake).

      I actually started my self-styled quest with approximately 100 of my favorites, it seems like a lot but how quickly they piled up between both starring and supporting actresses and actors!

      Since I’ve begun I’ve managed to complete 18. Of those only three, Judy Garland, Debbie Reynolds and Mae West, were a breeze. Even some that I thought would be a snap, Kate Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, always had one or two elusive titles. I almost wept the day I found “Under My Skin” which was the last John Garfield film I had been seeking for years, happily it was great…certainly the exception in these cases (Hepburn’s Grace Quigley was wretched!!! And Kelly’s Green Fire extremely mediocre) My lists only encompass theatrical films, someone like Barbara Stanwyck or Jane Wyman’s catalogue would be insurmountable with all the TV they did, though I’ll happily watch one of their TV movies or shows if I have the chance.

      Where it gets really frustrating is when I get within a film of two, I’m within one picture for ten performers and two for another eleven, and those films seems unavailable. Needless to say my Holy Grail list is VERY long! But then one turns up and I get almost giddy as I did with Eye of the Cat.

    2. Hi again Ken,

      I meant to mention in regards to those Holy Grail titles that for some reason the last couple of weeks have been particularly fruitful ones in tracking them down. I've managed to track down 15 all told. They've been a ragged bunch with some real lulus in the mix, Babes in Bagdad was one of them and there was a sword and sandal epic called The Golden Horde with Ann Blyth as the princess of Samarkand! that was a real pip but the one I really wanted to point out was a Mitzi Gaynor WESTERN!! if you can believe it! called Three Young Texans! Oh it was a hoot, not only was it Mitzi on the range, she was brunette but her make-up said next up at the Copa, but Aaron Spelling was one of the villains along with Michael Ansara. At least it had Jeffrey Hunter to look at and remove some of the absurdity.

    3. Hey Joel
      That actually sounds like a wonderful way to not only appreciate the diversity of a star often known exclusively for just a handful of roles, but a way to possibly unearth a gem you'd otherwise have no knowledge of whatsoever.
      I haven't been conscious of it myself, but I've been doing that with Glenda Jackson and Julie Christie, seeing all but a few outlying films. I'm sure you've discovered how trying it can be sticking it out through a film you're otherwise loathing, waiting for the scenes of your favorite to appear.

      the internet and the ever changing flow of films available on various sites has been a significant boon in your quest, I'm sure.
      That Mitzi Gaynor film, however, sounds like a real find! Congrats on your success!

    4. It really is a wonderful way to see different facets of the performers.

      It's also interesting how some were practically fully formed right from the get go-both Kate & Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy McGuire, Hedy Lamarr, Judy Holliday and Maggie Sullavan to name a few, they refined their personas slightly as they went along but their essence was there right from the start.

      Contrast that with someone like Jane Wyman who worked her way up from being an extra and if you only knew her from her later serene, somewhat tough roles it's a trifle shocking how she twisted and turned until she arrived. For instance when I watched The Doughgirls...a real goldmine in my viewing starring as it did FOUR of the ladies on my list, Jane, Ann Sheridan, Eve Arden and Alexis Smith (she's one of the performers I'm within one film of completing her work-the seemingly locked in a crypt "The Decision of Christopher Blake")...Jane played a woman who could only be described as a borderline idiot with a high breathy voice and an addlepated demeanor. It's quite a turnabout from her later low-key calmness, it also shows how skillful she was since her Vivien comes across as sweet and endearing rather than annoying or irritating which is how a less talented actress could have played her.

      She's probably the best example though Joan Bennett, Ginger Rogers and Ida Lupino did a great deal of morphing throughout their early careers.

    5. Hi Ken,

      Just popping back with two pieces of news. I found another Eleanor Parker title that I was missing, Madison Avenue!! So yeah for me but the other nugget is one that I think you'll be more interested in. I found the elusive In Search of Gregory starring Julie Christie on YouTube!! I know you love her as I do and I wasn't sure if it was one that you've seen or was searching for as I've been but thought I'd pass the link along just in case.

      It's an odd one but she looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

      Now if I could just find Miss Mary!

    6. Ha! Congrats on finding yet another title in your Eleanor Parker search! And how very kind of you to pass on the link for "In search of Gregory."
      It is a film I've seen (in fact, I'll always remember it as the first film I ever saw Christie without her ever-present bangs), and she DOES look remarkable in it. It has my favorite Michael Sarrazin in it of course, and just writing this makes me want to check it out again, as it's been several years.
      I agree it's an odd one, but for a Christie fetishist, it's heaven! Thank you Joel, you're a very nice guy.

  14. I know I'm years late to this party, but there's currently an excellent quality print on YouTube:

    I watched it last night and, while I thought the cinematography and set design were excellent, I wasn't blown away despite being a huge Eleanor Parker fan (she's what led me to the film). As someone said earlier I think, at 46 or so, she was certainly too young for this sort of exercise in hag-spoitation, though she was certainly older than Debbie Reynolds was in "What's the Matter With Helen," so who's to say? Anyway, if was certainly fun discovering your post about it!

  15. Hi, Peter
    I always admire that you tend to give so many films the benefit of the doubt. I'm not nearly as flexible. It is strange how everyone goes on and on abut "old" Aunt Danny, and the film treats her like her best days are behind her in spite of the fact that we're looking at a lovely "mature" woman who certainly gave Julie Andrews a run for her money.
    But I can understand the film not being a grabber for you. Although I find it still so watchable after all these years (it plays even better to me, in fact), but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that nostalgia plays a part in my appreciation.
    And I thank you on behalf of all future visitors to this post for providing us all with a link to a pristine copy of this long-unavailable film. Good to hear from you (as always)!

  16. Beautiful film. Especially that proto-DePalma opening sequence, which also evokes the old Batman TV show.

    I also love the scene shot in Lafayette Park. Those Eucalyptus trunks are personally iconic.

    Parker's Edith Head wardrobe deserves mention too. Authentic glamour before the term became misused.

    Geographic notes and correction: Aunt Danny's house is in Pacific Heights; nowhere near Noe Valley. One of the house's subsequent owners also owned the S.F. Giants. The house across Octavia where the wheelchair scene was shot is the Spreckels Mansion, now the residence of novelist Danielle Steel. She's the one responsible for the huge, ugly hedge.

    1. Hi Marck
      Thanks so much for clearing up the location of Aunt Danny's house! It's a beautiful area photographed to peak advantage in EYE OF THE CAT, a film with a very jazzy visual style. The elements you mention are well-served by the film finally getting the Blu-ray treatment. Appreciate your reading this post and especially for contributing the geographical and residential stats (that really is one ugly hedge)!

  17. I have just seen this film on Shudder, and I have a major question about the ending. After Kassia is dead, and Wylie tells Danny and Luke that he never intended to stay, what does that mean? How am I supposed to interpret that? Is he leaving Danny and Luke to take the blame for Kassia's death?

    1. Ha! Well it helps to remember that this is both a '60s film and a somewhat contrived psychological thriller. It was the fashion that these movies always sought to end on a note of a big question elliptical note of ambiguity, whether it made much sense or not. I don't think there's any one way to read the ending, but I always took it that since Wylie was never concerned with the money, never took anything seriously, and was never as "in" on the murder plot as everyone assumed (hence his saving Aunt Danny), ever the drifter he would indeed leave Danny and Luke on their trapped with each other as they were at the beginning. Cassia's death is an accident brought on by her fear of the cats, so there is no one to blame. And Any explanation to the police that contradicts that is a confession (from Luke) or an accusation (from Danny) of attempted murder. So the "poetic justice" ending is that these two people who hate each other are somewhat dependent on each other, and Wylie "the innocent" is free to go back to his vagabond existence.
      Glad you watched this, I love the exasperated tone of your comment, and appreciate your stopping by this post to try to make some sense of it all.