The Leopard Man (1943)

Excerpted from Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall, by Chris Fujiwara, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001

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Nothing is more fantastic than the human brain. Fear, horror, terror are in us. Rightly or wrongly, we all carry in us a feeling of guilt. Cruelty flows in our blood, even if we have learned to master it. . . . Now, a good horror film is one that best awakens our old dormant instincts.

--Jacques Tourneur

Critics have generally regarded The Leopard Man, the last of Tourneur's three films with Lewton, as a flawed work, inferior to its predecessors. Joel E. Siegel, for example, calls it "a mixed effort, superb in its individual sequences and its general ambience but uncertain in structure and lacking any deep thematic resonance."1 Tourneur disliked the film: "It was too exotic, it was neither fish nor fowl: a series of vignettes, and it didn't hold together."2

Here Tourneur points out two of the problems of The Leopard Man, two of the ways in which the film offers an experience that is disturbing and unresolved. "Neither fish nor fowl," The Leopard Man fits uncomfortably in either the horror or the mystery genre. The title is misleading: its semantic analogy to "Cat People" turns out to be only apparent, the film having to do not with a man who supernaturally becomes a leopard but with one who merely pretends to be one. As a mystery, The Leopard Man is distinctly a failure, even though it has the required elements: murders, a killer whose identity is (nominally) concealed until the end, a hero and heroine who play the roles of amateur detectives. Contrary to one of the genre's unwritten laws, the film's three killings aren't all committed by the same assassin. Moreover, the killer's identity is obvious from the start, so that the film confronts us with a mystery that is no mystery (or perhaps one that's displaced). For its denouement, the plot resorts to the most worn-out device at the genre's disposal: the amateur detectives trick the killer into trying to repeat his crime and exposing himself.

The other main problem with The Leopard Man that Tourneur's criticism highlights is its episodic narrative structure ("a series of vignettes"), derived from its source novel, Cornell Woolrich's Black Alibi. Early in the film, a supposedly tame leopard escapes during a publicity stunt arranged by press agent Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe) for an entertainer, Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks). Much of the rest of the film follows, in turn, three women, each of whom is violently killed: Teresa (Margaret Landry), a teenage girl sent by her mother on an errand at night; Consuelo (Tula Parma), a young woman from a rich family who goes to meet her lover in a cemetery; and Clo-Clo (Margo), a dancer at the hotel nightclub. Initially, the police attribute the killings to the escaped leopard, but Jerry and Kiki discover that Galbraith (James Bell), the curator of the local museum, committed the second and third killings. Galbraith confesses to the crimes and is immediately killed by Raoul (Richard Martin), Consuelo's boyfriend.

In retrospect, The Leopard Man appears ahead of its time, related only loosely to earlier horror films. Tourneur's staging of self-contained mini-narratives in which women are stalked and killed addresses the direct connection between the spectator's gaze and death, foregrounding the desire of the spectator in a way generally associated with later films by Hitchcock, while also foreshadowing the Italian giallo, a baroque subgenre characterized by setpieces dealing with the sadistic killing of women (cf. Mario Bava's Sei donne per l'assassino [Blood and Black Lace, 1964] and Dario Argento's Profondo rosso [Deep Red, 1975]). The film also anticipates Michael Powell's Peeping Tom in making the sight of a victim's fear the factor that fascinates the killer and compels him to kill.

To paraphrase the zookeeper's description of the panther in Cat People, The Leopard Man is like a horror film but not a horror film, as the reduced role of the supernatural in the film indicates. At several points, Clo-Clo meets a fortune-teller (Isabel Jewell), whose repeated attempts to tell her fortune all yield the fatal ace of spades, marking Clo-Clo for her eventual premature death. Unlike voodoo in I Walked with a Zombie, the fortune-teller's power of prediction remains peripheral to the narrative. It exerts no influence on events and never attracts the scrutiny of the people investigating them. The film foregrounds this irrelevance: in one scene, leaving Clo-Clo's room, the fortune-teller nonchalantly passes Jerry, who ignores her as he goes into Kiki's room. The fortune-teller and Jerry are indifferent to each other because they exist on different levels of the story. By bringing them together, however, the film hints that such a division between people is untenable, a point that relates to The Leopard Man's themes of collective responsibility and individual interchangeability.

Things turn out as the fortune-teller predicts: Clo-Clo meets a man, he gives her money, and then "something black" comes, bringing death. Her stubborn prescience links The Leopard Man not just to the horror film, but also to the fatalism of film noir. The film's credits are superimposed over a shot of a dark, empty street--"identifiable above all as a movie street," as Bernard Eisenschitz observes3--that locates the film within the visual terrain of noir (already well defined by 1943, although the cycle was still a year or two short of its classic period). The script's philosophical fatalism preserves the mood of Cornell Woolrich (and looks forward to the next Lewton film, Mark Robson's despairing The Seventh Victim). Galbraith sounds this note early in the film: pointing out a ball on a jet of water in the café fountain, he comments to Jerry, "We know as little about the forces that move us and move the world around us as that empty ball does about the water that pushes it into the air, lets it fall, and catches it again." At the end of the film, Jerry interprets Galbraith's philosophy to Kiki: "That's the way it was with us, only we were too small to know it."

The film's unusual narrative structure, although it keeps us from identifying with any character for very long, ideally allows the film to generalize its theme. By shifting attention unpredictably from one character to another (as do, more systematically, such films as Max Ophuls' La ronde and Buñuel's Le fantôme de la liberté), The Leopard Man highlights the arbitrariness inherent in film narrative and makes it the structuring device that mediates the viewer's relationship to the characters, causing us to see them, perhaps, as "pawns of a bizarre and terrible destiny" (in the words of Manny Farber, who singled out The Leopard Man as one of the most original of Lewton's films).4

The first shot of the film after the credits is an exterior shot of the open door of a dressing room. We hear the sound of castanets, carried over from the main title music. The camera tracks toward the empty doorway, seemingly hunting the invisible source of the sound; the viewer's lack of knowledge coincides with the lack in the visual field represented by the empty doorway. Then Clo-Clo, rehearsing her castanet dance, enters the frame, at first as a reflection in a mirror (a frame within a frame--the doorway--within the frame). Abruptly, the camera pans right to another open door, through which we see Kiki banging on the wall for quiet. Kiki slams the door, at which point the scene cuts to a shot inside her room. The first shot proves to have been an oblique, initially misleading introduction to the dialogue scene that takes place in this room.

The sudden pan from Clo-Clo's room to Kiki's makes us see them as rivals for our attention and hints that they are, in some sense, equivalent. Multiple mirror images define the imaginary space of this equivalence: Clo-Clo appears in a mirror in the first shot; subsequently, we see Kiki put on her makeup in a mirror, while Eloise, the cigarette girl who apparently shares Kiki's dressing room, primps in front of a third mirror. The more flamboyant Clo-Clo overshadows Kiki: later in the film, we see Clo-Clo's act, but we're only told that Kiki is a performer; she doesn't even begin to compete with Clo-Clo on the spectacular plane. Eloise comments on the "irony" of Kiki's having a show-business career while she's just a cigarette girl, implying that she's just as good as Kiki; she also offers to take Kiki's place.

The leopard, which Jerry proposes to Kiki as a gimmick to steal attention from Clo-Clo in the nightclub, comes to occupy this highly charged space of envy and rivalry. At the end of the sequence, Kiki decides to wear her black dress to escort the leopard to the nightclub: "Then I'll be just like him." This line, succeeded on the image track by a shot of the ball in the fountain (later associated with Galbraith) anticipates Galbraith's becoming a sort of "leopard man." Through her wish, the film generalizes his psychosis, proposes it as an extreme form of a general human identification with the bestial. (In the funeral parlor scene after Teresa's death, the film again links Kiki to the leopard, in a composition that balances her with a mysterious shadow, the double of the leopard-shadow that Teresa's brother makes with his hands.)

The pan at the end of the film's opening shot sets up a distinctive motif in The Leopard Man: sequences at first appear to center on Clo-Clo, only to shift abruptly to follow another woman. Clo-Clo repeatedly cues the narrative's transitions between its two groups: the outsiders (Jerry, Kiki, Galbraith, the rich tourists) and the locals (the victims, their families and friends, the police captain, Charlie How-Come). As Bernard Eisenschitz observes, "Clo-Clo is characterized as the go-between, the mediator between the place where money is spent and her own place of origin, associated thus to the city with a double face, Mexican and American, like her double name: Gabriela and Clo-Clo."5 Clo-Clo has something in common with everyone else in the film, in particular, the other two victims: she is poor like Teresa, and something of a romantic, like Consuelo.

The switch from Clo-Clo to Kiki also underlines an important, though unstated, thematic point: even though she precipitates the killings by frightening the leopard into flight, Clo-Clo is never accused of being indirectly responsible for the killings or shown feeling remorse over them, whereas people are constantly either asserting the responsibility of Kiki and Jerry, or denying it, which amounts to the same thing (in this narrative, negation has the force and meaning of affirmation: like a dream, The Leopard Man doesn't say "no").6 The exoneration of Clo-Clo is consistent with the film's subtextual linking of her to the leopard. She has no moral responsibility because she is the object of the fatality underlying the animal's appearance: just as she was the initial target of the leopard-as-publicity-stunt, so she becomes the ultimate target of the leopard-as-killer.

The film's second sequence, set at the hotel café, starts with the camera craning and tilting down from the fountain to Clo-Clo's reflection in the pool, closing the loop of mirror images that we have seen (and linking them with what we will come to recognize as the image of ignorance and powerlessness). As Jerry planned, Kiki's entrance with the leopard on a leash diverts attention from Clo-Clo to her--another in the series of transferences between the two women. The series is completed when Clo-Clo scares the leopard away with her castanets. A physical mark signals the narrative's turn from its initial uncomfortable lightness to danger, death, and mystery: the slashes on the back of a waiter's hand, seen in close-up after the leopard has fled.

While the police are hunting the leopard in the streets, a boy's flashlight picks out Clo-Clo's legs in the darkness. This shot, made memorable by the briskly peremptory stamp of feet with which Clo-Clo (confident in her mastery of all situations) makes the boy turn off the flashlight, affirms the mysterious connection between Clo-Clo and the leopard. Like the ace of spades she draws from the fortune-teller's deck, the beam of the flashlight symbolically marks her. (The symbolic mark is a central feature of Tourneur's films, as of Lang's: cf. the strange woman's solicitation of Irena in the restaurant in Cat People, Betsy's lost voodoo patch in I Walked with a Zombie, the pull ring of the window shade that dangles like a noose in the foreground of a shot of Jeff in Out of the Past.)

The gaze of the camera also plays the role of a mark, according to the logic of one of the principal mechanisms of cinematic suspense: if a film follows a character closely for an unknown reason, the audience assumes that something bad is going to happen to the character, especially given the narrative conventions expected to operate in a film with a title like The Leopard Man. The elaborate detailing of Clo-Clo's walk home leads us to think that she's about to be killed. After tracking with her, however, as she passes various people on the street, including a man in a shadowy doorway and two lovers embracing in another doorway, the camera unexpectedly stops at Teresa's window, letting Clo-Clo continue out of frame. The camera transfers Clo-Clo's mark and, provisionally, her victim stigma, onto Teresa, just as, later, the film passes them to Consuelo after the scene at the flower stand.

Each of the three murder sequences launches a self-contained series of substitutions, transferences, and choices. For example, Teresa is sent to the store for corn meal because the other possible candidate for the job, her brother, is too young; she must go to a distant market because the nearer one is closed; when she gets there, the storekeeper lets her have a bag of corn meal on credit (confident that "the poor don't cheat one another"--a detail that shows the moral and economic basis for the film's formal theme of exchange and equivalence); on her way home, Teresa must choose between two tunnels beneath a railroad overpass: one is completely dark; on a wall inside the other, we see a dim, watery reflection of light.

Through such doublings, the murder sequences extend the structural use of repetition and difference in the transverse sequence in Cat People and the walk to the Houmfort in I Walked with a Zombie. Tourneur fragments space, alternating between close and long shots, high and level angles, and frontal perspectives and perspectives behind or to the side of the subject. The placement of these different types of shots in relation to each other shows an ambition, scope, and mastery probably without precedent in the B Hollywood cinema, outdoing even the two previous Lewton-Tourneurs. Note, for instance, the magnificent long shot of Teresa walking toward the railroad bridge--so casually and so precisely placed in the sequence. The multiplication of perspective has a dual effect, making scenes both more concrete, because of the emphasis with which the subject is situated in her surroundings, and more abstract, because this over-situation is often bewildering and forces us to try to reconstruct the space of the scene from its visual and structural fragments.

In the cemetery sequence, the cutting produces a subtle effect of disorientation:

  1. Emerging into a clearing at the end of a corridor formed by hedges, Consuelo passes the statue of a bearded man; her figure and that of the statue are juxtaposed in a medium shot from behind;
  1. Presumably from her point of view: a depopulated area filled with grave markers and shrubs;
  1. Frontal close shot of Consuelo, the statue partly visible in the background at left;
  1. Another angle on the cemetery;
  1. Same as (3): she looks screen left;
  1. Close shot from behind her, part of the statue visible at right, as her head turns right and looks up;
  1. Close shot of the statue head;
  1. Setup (3) again: she turns away from the statue and looks off right;
  1. Long shot of the moon visible through the branches above the wall.

Particularly unusual is the transition from (5) to (6), which breaks the so-called 180-degree rule, disrupting spatial continuity, and subverts the classical shot-reverse shot pattern (whose normal functioning is emphasized in this sequence at the transition from [3] to [4]). In (5), when Consuelo turns her head, we expect (by analogy with the previous pair of shots) that the next shot will be from her point of view. Instead, we see Consuelo again, completely isolated in space. The cut is a dark joke on vision, visibility, and the place of the spectator in the film. We think the film is encouraging us to identify with Consuelo and share her perceptions; the cut suddenly breaks this illusion. Similar cuts--from a frontal view of a character turning to look over her shoulder to a rear view in which the character's face, having turned, again faces the camera--recur twice in the film, both times cued by sounds: when Clo-Clo hears a rustling footstep on the street and when Galbraith hears a woman call for help as he walks past the cemetery. (Cf. also Alice turning around on the transverse in Cat People and Holden's enigmatic experience in the hotel corridor in Night of the Demon.)

Sound effects take on unusual prominence throughout The Leopard Man. Each murder sequence contains an aural false shock or "bus," in which a sound suggesting the dreaded leopard proves to come from a train or a car. (In the third sequence, the suggestion is vestigially weak, since the car sound, even though as usual it precedes the car's appearance, doesn't frighten either Clo-Clo or us; the survival of the device here proves the consistency of the Lewton-Tourneur team's concern with formal elements.) The momentary deception confirms the success of the mise-en-scène in constructing an imaginary trap, for the viewer as well as for the victim. Entrusting to an aural signifier the function of springing the trap, the film preserves the elusiveness of the space around the victim. We see the train passing above Teresa's head only as the flickering of lights on the inner walls of the tunnel; we don't see the car stopping outside the cemetery (since we are on the inside with Consuelo); the car that pulls up near Clo-Clo is on a trajectory whose relation to hers is unclear.

The absence of music also functions as a sound effect. The first murder-sequence has no music at all until the shot of the blood seeping under the door; in the second, the score fades away well before the climax of the scene (after a single organ chord sustained for an incredibly long time, repeating a device used in the scoring of the scene in the tower in I Walked with a Zombie); the third has no music. As in the transverse and swimming pool scenes in Cat People and the journey to the Houmfort in I Walked with a Zombie, the absence of music lends gravity and naturalness, eliminating a conventional connotator of emotion and helping to impose the detached point of view implied by Tourneur's tracking shots and high-angle shots.

Each of The Leopard Man's murder sequences ends with a shot in which offscreen space absorbs the victim. At the limit of representation, death is elided, recuperated, and represented in negative by traces: Teresa's blood oozing under the door; the branch in the cemetery shaking as if an animal has just leaped from it; the extreme close-up of Clo-Clo's discarded cigarette, over which shadows move chaotically. Over each of these paroxysmic images of absence, we hear the victim's screams. Sound serves as the transition from the unshowable to the narratable (each death is followed by a scene in which the survivors try to understand what has happened).

The film's empty spaces are visual equivalents for the disastrously missing objects in the narrative: Teresa's mother needs corn meal, Consuelo has apparently just missed Raoul at the cemetery, Clo-Clo loses her $100 bill. These missing objects all relate to another, crucial, absence: that of the father. Teresa's father is at work (motivating Teresa's fatal journey, her mother darkly threatening the consequences if there are no tortillas on his return); Consuelo's and Clo-Clo's fathers are dead. In place of the fathers, middle-aged or elderly men figure in each sequence: the kindly storekeeper, the cemetery gatekeeper, the rich tourist who gives Clo-Clo a hundred dollars, and especially the statue of an old bearded man in the cemetery, with its enigmatic expression of warning, rebuke, or sorrow. The film's fathers are, if not missing, inadequate. The rich tourist is a figure of contempt to his daughter. Chief Robles, the town's figure of paternal authority, seems to exercise it mainly by relieving others (Teresa's father, Jerry, the gatekeeper, Charlie) of responsibility and guilt, as J. P. Telotte observes.7 The father's symbolic role of affixing guilt and prescribing punishment is abrogated until the end of the film, when Raoul, Consuelo's boyfriend, kills Galbraith in revenge for her death and is arrested by Robles.

The gesture is a token one. Circulating from one character to another throughout The Leopard Man is a debt that no one owes and that is owed to no one, but that nonetheless insists on being paid. The impossible nature of this debt partly accounts for the film's disturbing effect. The traditional task of the mystery narrative is to assign the generalized sense of (possible) guilt that ensues from a crime to a specific person. In The Leopard Man, this guilt is unassignable. Various people could have prevented the tragedies by acting differently: the woman storekeeper could have reopened for Teresa and spared her the trip across the arroyo; Señora Delgado could have left the door unbolted, or opened it more quickly; Raoul could have waited for Consuelo; the gatekeeper could have looked for Consuelo in the cemetery before locking the gate. Charlie, because he loaned out the leopard; Jerry and Kiki, because they bring it to the club; and Clo-Clo, because she frightens it away, all participate in the narrative's chain of responsibility. Charlie's readiness to believe Galbraith's subversively joking hypothesis that he killed Consuelo during an alcoholic blackout suggests that, unconsciously, he recognizes his share in the collective guilt the film exposes. (Galbraith himself is driven by larger, uncontrollable forces, like Irena in Cat People and the "possessed" Mrs. Rand in I Walked with a Zombie.)

In Cat People, Oliver and Alice acknowledge his obligation to take care of Irena if she is insane; in I Walked with a Zombie, Paul broods over his "technical responsibility, real responsibility" for his wife. The Leopard Man goes further than the earlier films by extending the chain of responsibility beyond the family to the whole community and beyond the community to history. Weaving through the film's final section is a procession of black-robed penitents, commemorating the massacre of a tribe of peaceful Indians by conquistadores. The procession symbolizes an ineradicable guilt that must be passed on over generations; by momentarily joining the marchers, Galbraith, Jerry, and Raoul "link the distant historical event to the modern incident to suggest a continuum of such inexplicable human horrors."8

The film uses the distant, uncomfortable figures of Jerry and Kiki to foreground the theme of responsibility in a schematic way that some viewers, understandably, have felt as "unconvincing"9 and that leaves us at a loss to know what attitude we're expected to take toward them. The film portrays their problem in terms of the inability to display emotion. "Where I come from you had to be tough," Jerry tells Galbraith to explain his apparent unconcern over Teresa's death, but in reality, both Jerry and Kiki are "softies." Read as centering on them, the narrative is therapeutic: they become better by learning to externalize their compassion. Kiki becomes the film's "heroine" only by assuming responsibility for the holocaust and putting herself literally in the victims' places--an extension of the film's theme of interchangeability. Sitting on the bench in the cemetery where Consuelo sat, Kiki tries to identify imaginatively with Consuelo and wonders what she was thinking about before she died. Later, Kiki presents herself to Galbraith as a potential victim. Like many other Tourneur characters, including Dardo in The Flame and the Arrow, Clay Douglas in Circle of Danger, Martín in Way of a Gaucho, Pentecost in Great Day in the Morning, and Holden in Night of the Demon, Jerry and Kiki start from a false position of mastery and independence that they are eventually forced to surrender, recognizing their implication in a larger pattern over which they have no control.

In the final sequences of The Leopard Man, the film's accumulation of repetitions takes on a strangely obsessive quality, producing an atmosphere of fantasy and unreality. Jerry and Kiki turn against Galbraith the signifiers of the earlier murder sequences: the voice calling for help from the cemetery, the cigarette thrown on the street. Hunter becomes hunted; the fiction is turned inside out (we were with Consuelo inside the cemetery, now we're with Galbraith outside). The fatal lack associated with the victims reverts to the killer: alone in the museum with Kiki, who visits on the pretext of seeking a view of the procession, Galbraith can't see her face--and thus her fear--because her back is turned to him. Later, Galbraith, whom the narrative also entrusts with explaining the historical meaning of the procession (itself an annually repeated ceremony), compulsively recounts the deaths of Teresa and Consuelo. The film's short coda refers to earlier scenes, as Jerry and Kiki recall their discomfort in the funeral parlor and Jerry repeats Galbraith's comment about the ball in the fountain; the final shot, in which the couple walk up a street that retreats from the camera in perspective, recalls both the shot of the Delgados walking up the same street and the first shot of the film (under the opening credits). These repetitions ostensibly indicate closure, but on another level, they suggest that the issues raised by the film remain open. As Telotte says, "we are left with a sense that there is no real ending in sight, certainly no true consolation here for the victims' families, and no satisfying feeling that things have at last been 'made right,' just a disturbing residue from these terrible events."10

Tourneur attributed the commercial success of his films with Lewton to "war psychosis. . . . In wartime, people want to be frightened."11 Of the three films, The Leopard Man has the clearest relationship to war. Edmund Bansak calls the film "a courageous essay in the random nature of death. . . . Wartime audiences may not have liked Leopard's downbeat message--that the young and the innocent also die--but it was an important one for them to grasp."12 As Bansak implies, The Leopard Man has a therapeutic, redemptive power. We never regard the killings as merely chaotic and purposeless. We see them in relation to several patterns: a supernatural, metaphysical framework that appears, but isn't explained, in the linking of the victims to Clo-Clo, and through her to the leopard and the fate predicted by the fortune-teller; the networks of families, economics, the community, and history; and a personal, biographical pattern that emerges in the way the film takes us through the life of each victim, recalling their pasts (Teresa stopping to admire the toybirds in the store, which she loved when she was a child) and detailing the temporal context of their adventures (Consuelo's impatient look at the sundial through her window, the gatekeeper's philosophical discourse on time: "A moment can be as short as a breath or as long as eternity"). There are also the visual patterns, by which the film confers gravity, mystery, and unity: the metaphors of journey and labyrinth, the symbols of water (in the tunnel), flowers, the statue in the cemetery. By combining these perspectives, the film gives us an intuition of totality (without, however, giving us the answers that would allow us to construct this totality as an interpretative framework), a sense that the killings are a necessary part of an impersonal cycle.

The Leopard Man is a pivotal work in the careers of both Tourneur and Lewton. Pushing to extremes the experiment with narrative ambiguity undertaken in Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, this radically unusual film has its own precise, inexhaustible poetry.

Copyright © 1998 by Chris Fujiwara

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The Leopard Man (1943) RKO

Director: Jacques Tourneur. Producer: Val Lewton. Screenplay: Ardel Wray, based on the novel Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich. Additional Dialogue: Edward Dein. Director of Photography: Robert De Grasse. Art Directors: Albert S. D'Agostino, Walter E. Keller. Set Decorators: Darrell Silvera, Al Fields. Music: Roy Webb. Musical Director: C. Bakaleinikoff. Editor: Mark Robson. Sound Recordist: John C. Grubb. Assistant Director: William Dorfman.

Cast: Dennis O'Keefe (Jerry Manning), Margo (Clo-Clo), Jean Brooks (Kiki Walker), James Bell (Dr. Galbraith), Abner Biberman (Charlie How-Come), Ben Bard (Chief Robles), Margaret Landry (Teresa Delgado), Tula Parma (Consuelo Contreras), Ariel Heath (Eloise), Richard Martin (Raoul Belmonte), William Halligan (Brunton [rich man]), Jacqueline De Witt (Helene), Robert Anderson (Dwight), Kate Lawson (Señora Delgado), Fely Franquelli (Rosita), Tola Nesmith (Señora Contreras), Brandon Hurst (Gatekeeper), Jacques Lory (Philipe), Bobby Spindola (Pedro), Russell Wade (Man in car), Margaret Sylva (Marta), Charles Lung (Manuel [kindly shopkeeper]), John Dilson (Coroner), Mary MacLaren (Nun), Tom Orosco (Window cleaner), Eliso Gamboa (Señor Delgado), Joe Dominguez (Cop), Betty Roadman (Clo-Clo's mother), Rosa Rita Varella (Clo-Clo's sister), John Piffle (Flower vendor), Rene Pedrini (Frightened waiter), Rose Higgins (Indian weaver), George Sherwood (Police lieutenant), John Tettemer (Minister), Belle Mitchell (Señora Calderon).

Production: February 9-March 8, 1943. Premiere: May 1943.

65 minutes, 59 seconds. (At some point subsequent to its initial release, the film was cut to 59 minutes. The full version is now generally available in the U.S.)


1. Joel E. Siegel, Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror (New York: Viking Press, 1973), pp. 115-16.

2. Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, The Celluloid Muse: Hollywood Directors Speak (New York: New American Library, 1972), p. 249.

3. "Six films produits par Val Lewton," in Le cinéma américain: analyses de films, ed. Raymond Bellour (Paris: Flammarion, 1980), p. 60.

4. Manny Farber, Movies (New York: Stonehill, 1971), p. 49.

5. "Six films," p. 61.

6. "The way in which dreams treat the category of contraries and contradictions is highly remarkable. It is simply disregarded. 'No' seems not to exist so far as dreams are concerned" (Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, trans. and ed. James Strachey [New York: Avon Books, 1965]), p. 353.

7. J. P. Telotte, Dreams of Darkness: Fantasy and the Films of Val Lewton (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), p. 74.

8. Ibid., p. 72.

9. Edmund G. Bansak, Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 1995), p. 175.

10. Dreams of Darkness, p. 75.

11. Patrick Brion and Jean-Louis Comolli, "Un cinéma de frontière," Cahiers du cinéma, no. 181 (August 1966), p. 36.

12. Fearing the Dark, p. 178.


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