Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cat and Mouse (1974)

I love a good TV movie, especially the stuff made in the US during the seventies. The quality was often very high the lack of budget and graphic violence often lead to creative scripts to be able to surprise the audiences. Kirk Douglas, one of my favourite actors, had a very interesting career during this decade with a lot radical and controversial movies, like he wanted, even more than he did before, to change the view of him as an actor and artist. In Cat and Mouse (aka Mousey) he makes one of his best performances, and it’s a shame so few remember this classic.

Kirk is George “Mousey” Anderson, a grey and quiet teacher who has been married with the younger Laura (Jean Seberg) for many years. This marriage was arranged, no explanation why, and now Laura has broken free with her young son. George has started to see the boy as his own son and can’t accept that their whole marriage has been a lie. Laura has met a new man, the good David (John Vernon) and wants to start a new life for her and the boy. George, in a sudden rage, suddenly quits his job and decides to take revenge on Laura. Armed with a razor he follows them to the big city…

Until Micke at the legendary Stockholmian video store Monkey Beach gave me a copy of this I never heard about it before! This is a darn shame, because Cat and Mouse is a fantastic piece of thriller. Very simple in it’s execution with a straightforward script and not much of fancy camera work, this is so good that I just couldn’t stop watch it. Even of every actor is good, this is still Kirk Douglas movie. He’s in 95 % of every frame, dominating the screen with a disturbing performance of a man who goes from being a cry-baby to a serial killer like a god damn yoyo – and makes a convincing character all the way.

Directed by experienced TV-director Daniel Petrie, this very much feels like a low-key thriller for cinema. It also had a cinema release in the UK, which is understandable – this is good stuff, without a doubt. Petrie also never shy’s away from violence. Ok, we’re not talking anything graphic here, but it has a few scenes of quite rough and brutal violence when Kirk is waving with his razor and removing people that try to stop him.

The ending, which is a great exercise in tension, has an interesting plot-twist that actually was ripped of in another more famous thriller from the same year, and I wonder if they just stole it from this one – because it’s a good twist!

Not out on DVD what I know, which is a pity. But if you get a chance to see it, take that chance. Please.


Anonymous said...

It´s a great thriller! I have always wondered if Kirk and Michael have talked and compared characters after this one and Falling Down?

Ninja Dixon said...

Damn, that's why I sat the whole movie thinking that this reminds of something - Falling Down of course, Kirk and Michael's performance are very related to each other! Thanks for reminding me :)

kochillt said...

Actually, there is a little seen horror title from 1973 called THE SEVERED ARM that may have introduced that plot device with the telephone. Marvin Kaplan plays a disc jockey alone in the station getting threatening calls from a mysterious assailant; gets a callback from the operator telling him the calls are being made from the station! (This picture was shot in the fall of 1973). I felt that Kirk lost a great deal of sympathy when he slashed the innocent girl from the laundromat, and the final scene in the attic disappointed after such a fine buildup. But as Leonard Maltin's outdated listing of TV movies said, "Kirk's wonderfully sinister."