Movie Review: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1939 mystery/comedy starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard.

Synopsis: A young woman inherits an estate left to her by a deceased millionaire relative. However, her inheritance comes with a catch, she must remain sane for 30 days or the fortune will go to a yet-to-be-named other heir. This immediately puts her in danger as a murderer known as “The Cat” begins to terrorize her with the obvious intention of either driving her insane or saving time by killing her.


This movie happened to be on last night after my daughter, wife and I finished watching a “Doctor Who” rerun.  And, even though it wasn’t really something we had planned on doing, we ended up watching a good portion of this movie and recording it so our daughter (who had to go to bed because of it being a school night) could see how it ended.

I have actually seen this movie a couple times before and have absolutely loved it each time. This is because it is a fantastic movie that really does exceed expectations.

One of the things I really like about this movie is, even though it is a comedy, it also has a pretty fantastic mystery too. The motive for attacking the woman (Goddard) is obvious. But, there are quite a few potential suspects in the house with her and, without knowing who is named in the alternate will, it isn’t overly easy to figure out who the bad guy is (or if there is just one bad guy).

I’ve seen quite a few Bob Hope films and this one is easily one of his best performances. He manages to be funny, especially with some of his one-liners. And, at times at least, even shows a bit of a cowardly side. But, rather than just be the comic relief, he also manages to keep things toned down just enough where he is believable when he decides to be heroic. This helps to set a light-hearted tone for the movie but, at the same time, keeps it from becoming a dumbed-down slapstick comedy; something I truly feel would have hurt this movie.

The Cat and the Canary

The legendary Bob Hope is at his very best in the hilarious comedy thriller The Cat and the Canary. A decade after the death of an eccentric millionaire, his remaining relatives...

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Final Opinion

This is a great family movie, especially for families that enjoy watching mysteries together. Hope is at his best and has a great supporting cast. As a result of that, this movie is well wroth taking the time to watch at least once if you haven’t seen it before.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 12/28/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/07/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system does not have The Cat and the Canary in its Blu-ray and DVD collections. So I guess I won't be viewing this film in the near future.

What would you think of it as a colorized remake?

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