Cat People appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The transfer represented the movie well.
Sharpness was fairly positive. At times the movie came across as a bit soft and ill-defined, but not with great frequency. The majority of the flick seemed accurate and concise. No problems with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and no edge haloes occurred.
In terms of print flaws, Cat People looked pretty clean. The image could be grainier than average but no specks or marks appeared. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows came across as clear and smooth. Contrast seemed well-represented. Overall, this was a satisfying transfer.
I also felt pleased with the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Cat People. Speech came across as slightly tinny but the lines were acceptably natural, and they seemed crisp and without edginess. Music was restricted to a degree, as I expected given the vintage of the track. Nonetheless, the score was clear and reasonably tight.
Effects fell into the same category. Those elements were acceptably accurate, though they also lacked much dimensionality. Only minor background noise ever appeared. For a flick from 1942, this was a good track.
As we head to extras, we start with an audio commentary from film historian Gregory Mank. Recorded in 2005, he offers a running, screen-specific discussion of cast/crew and aspects of the production. We also get a handful of archival interview remarks from actor Simone Simon.
Mank covers the topics one expects from a historian commentary, and he does so well - most of the time. He remains enthusiastic about the movie as he delves into a good mix of subjects. Despite an occasional tendency to narrate the movie, Mank brings us a strong examination of the film.
A 2008 documentary, Val Lewton: The Man In the Shadows runs one hour, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Narrated by Martin Scorsese, it involves comments from Lewton’s son Val E. Lewton, Icons of Grief author Alexander Nemerov, filmmakers Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Robert Wise and Roger Corman, Psychiatry and the Cinema author Dr. Glen Gabbard, director Jacques Tourneur, The Phantom Empire author Geoffrey O’Brien, and actor Ann Carter Newton.
As expected, “Shadows” provides a basic biography of producer Val Lewton as well as a look at his films. This becomes more introspective than most overviews of this sort, as “Shadows” delves into themes and meaning of the films. On the negative side, we get an awful lot of movie clips, and these take away from the information value. Nonetheless, “Shadows” provides a largely effective examination of Lewton’s life and career.
With Cine regards, we get a 1977 interview with director Jacques Tourner. It lasts 26 minutes, 37 seconds and looks at Tourneur’s life and career as well as his thoughts about filmmaking. Tourneur provides a nice discussion of these areas – and proves charmingly modest when he describes himself as an “average director”.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an interview with cinematographer John Bailey. This chat goes for 16 minutes, 36 seconds and offers a look at visual styles in Cat People. Bailey worked as DP for the 1982 remake, so his perspective proves to be engaging and insightful.
The set concludes with a fold-out booklet. One side offers a poster while the other presents an essay from critic Geoffrey O’Brien. It becomes a satisfying addition.
Though I’m not sure it belongs among the all-time great horror flicks, Cat People stands as a memorable affair. I appreciate its subtlety and think it creates a good sense of dread and understated fear. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture and audio along with a fairly effective set of supplements. Classic horror fans should enjoy this involving effort.