What can I say, the great Jean Renoir working at RKO in the 40’s with Charles Laughton, no less! A powerful combo, also starring the beautiful protege of Laughton’s , Maureen O’Hara and as added treats RKO stock players George “I am bored with Life” Sanders and Cat People’s Kent Smith, in a very good performance I might add. The film seems kind of slapped together in a rush but a beautiful rush of enthusiasm, patriotism and little money. I wonder if Dudley Nichols wanted to create something inspirational for people living under Nazi occupation and everyone joined in and made this film from nothing, shot on the back lots and Euro streets of RKO, the filmmakers manage to create a convincing French town albeit small. Then there are the wonderful scenes on trains as Kent Smith tries to escape his Nazi pursuers. Renoir loved trains and this sequence shot on location is a prime example of his fascination with their mechanical majesty. It’s funny how trains and cinema go together so well, from the very first days (to be continued)
I’ve been obsessed with Val Lewton lately, I even bought the box set of his films, The Val Lewton Horror Collection. It’s well worth the price, here are 9 great films produced by a true low budget genius at my favorite studio, RKO, made by some of Cinema’s greatest artists and artisans. A wonderful treat. Anyway while watching The Leopard Man I noticed it was based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich, the pulp writer who has had more books turned into films than any of his contemporaries. A reclusive writer that has had an enormous cultural influence on contemporary psychic reality. So I thought I’d order his novel, Black Alibi, then I found out someone had beaten me to the punch, a little research led me to a brilliant article on The Leopard Man. Here’s a link to it,The Strange Pleasure Of The Leopard Man it’s well worth reading.