The Black Cat (Universal Studios, 1934)

The Black Cat One SheetOne Sheet Poster

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Also known as The House of Doom and The Vanishing Body, The Black Cat was Universal’s first star pairing of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff had, in common with the studio’s other Poe-inspired films, little connection to Edgar Allan Poe beyond the title. The story featured Lugosi as Dr. Vitus Werdegast, a psychiatrist who spent fifteen years as a prisoner of war in an infamous Russian prison. In his absence, his old friend, architect Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff), stole his wife and then married  his daughter after her death. A battle of wits culminates in Werdegast skinning Poelzig alive. Mr. Jiggs, the black cat featured in the film was the winner of a competition judged by Lugosi and Karloff. The event was featured in a Universal newsreel. Mr. Jiggs also featured in Universal’s Gift of Gab with Lugosi and Karloff in cameo roles. The Black Cat was Universal’s biggest box office hit of  1934. Lugosi appeared in an inferior unrelated film of the same name in 1941.

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Production Company: Universal Studios

Producer: Carl Laemmle, Jr.

Supervising Producer: E.M. Asher

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer

Assistant Directors: W.J. Reiter and Sam Weisenthal

Screenplay: Peter Ruric

Contributing Writer: Tom Kilpatrick

Original Story: Edgar G. Ulmar and Peter Ruric suggested by The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

Cinematography: John J. Mescall

Second Cameraman: King D. Grey

Assistant Cameraman: John J. Martin

Art Director: Charles D. Hall

Musical Director: Heinz Roemheld

Music Recordist: Larry Aicholtz

Music Supervisor: Gilbert Kurland

Conductor/Music Adaptor: 

Composer: stock music 

Orchestrator: Walter Schiller

Make-up: Jack P. Pierce

Special Effects: John P. Fulton

Matte Artists: Jack Cosgrove, Russell Lawson

Camera Effects: David S. Horsley

Still Photographer: Roman Frulich

Costumes: Ed Ware and Vera West

Editor: Ray Curtiss

Script Clerk: Moree Herring

Dialogue Director: Peter Ruric

Supervisor’s Secretary: Peggy Vaughn

Production manager: M.F. Murphy

Sound Supervisor: Gilbert Kurland 

Running Time: 65 minutes

Copyright Number: LP4664, May 4 1934

Cast:

Boris Karloff: Hjalmar Poelig

Bela Lugosi: Dr. Vitus Werdegast

David Manners: Peter Allison

Jacqueline Wells: Joan Allison

Lucille Lund: Karen

Egon Brecher: Majordomo

Harry Cording: Thamal

Henry Armetta: The sergeant

Albert Conti: The lieutenant

Anna Duncan: Maid

Herman Bing: Car Steward

Andre Cheron: Train conductor

Luis Alberni: Train Steward

George Davis: Bus Driver

Alphonse Martell: Porter

Tony Marlow: Patrolman

Paul Weigel: Stationmaster

Albert Polet: Waiter

Rodney Hilderbrand: Brakeman

Mr. Jiggs: Black cat

Satanists: Virginia Ainsworth, King Baggot, Symona Boniface, Lois January, Michael Mark, Paul Panzer, John Caradine, Peggy Terry

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The Hollywood Reporter, January 19, 1934

‘U’ Seeks Lugosi

Bela Lugosi is being sought by Universal for a role in “The Black Cat,” to be directed by Edgar Ulmar, with Boris Karloff starred

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The Hollywood Reporter, February 13, 1934

Lugosi Returns for ‘U’s’ ‘Black Cat’

Bela Lugosi yesterday decided to give up his personal appearances in the east and accept Universal’s offer for a featured spot in “The Black Cat,” which Edgar Ulmer directs with Boris Karloff in the lead. Peter Ruric is scripting the Edgar Allan Poe story. Lugosi arrives out here February 21. Al Kingston set the deal.

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The Hollywood Reporter, February 17, 1934

‘U’ Tests Erin Moore

Erin O’brien-Moore was tested by Universal for one of the leading roles in “Black Cat,” the Edgar Allan Poe story, which will feature Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for Universal. Edgar Ulmer will direct.

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Universal Weekly, February 17, 1934

Universal Weekly, February 17, 1934

The following images are courtesy of Sander Feinberg

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly February 17, 1934 2

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly February 17, 1934 3

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly February 17, 1934 4

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly February 17, 1934 5

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly February 17, 1934 6

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The Hollywood Reporter, February 20, 1934

The Hollywood Reporter, February 20, 1934

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The Hollywood Reporter, February 23, 1934

The Black Cat, The Hollywood Reporter, February 23, 1934

The Independent, March 9, 1934

The Black Cat, The Independent, March 9, 1934

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Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1934

Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1934

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Universal Weekly, March 31, 1934

Universal Weekly, March 31, 1934

Universal Weekly, March 31, 1934 1

Universal Weekly, March 31, 1934 2

Universal Weekly, March 31, 1934

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Universal Weekly, April 7. 1934

Universal Weekly, April 7. 1934

Universal Weekly, April 7 1934 3

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Universal Weekly, April 21 1934

The Black Cat, Unversal Weekly, April 21, 1934

Universal Weekly, April 21, 1934

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Universal Weekly, April 28, 1934

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly, April 28, 1934

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly, April 28, 1934 1

The Black Cat, Universal Weekly, April 28, 1934 2

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Eugene Register-Guard, May 8, 1934

The Black Cat, Eugene Register-Guard, May 8, 1934

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Eugene Register-Guard, May 9, 1934

The Black Cat, Eugene Register-Guard, May 9, 1934

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Eugene Register-Guard, May 11, 1934

The Black Cat, Eugene Register-Guard, May 11, 1934 b

The Black Cat, Eugene Register-Guard, May 11, 1934

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Eugene Register-Guard, May 12, 1934

The Black Cat, Eugene Register-Guard, May 12, 1934

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The Milwaukee Journal, May 14, 1934

The Black Cat, The Milwaukee Journal, May 14, 1934

The Black Cat, The Milwaukee Journal, May 14, 1934 b

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San Jose News, May 16, 1934

The Black Cat, San Jose News, May 16, 1934 b

The Black Cat, San Jose News, May 16, 1934

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San Jose News, May 17, 1934

The Black Cat, San Jose News, May 17, 1934

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San Jose News, May 18, 1934

The Black Cat, San Jose News, May 18, 1934

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The New York Times, May 19, 1934

Not Related to Poe

ADS
The acknowledgment which the producers of “The Black Cat” graciously make to Edgar Allan Poe seems a trifle superfluous, since the new film is not remotely to be identified with Poe’s short story. A clammy and excessively ghoulish tale of hi-jinks in a Hungarian horror salon, it describes, with appropriate hysteria, the curious behavior of a gentleman named, if the program spelling can be trusted, Hjalmar Poelzig. Hjalmar (Boris Karloff with a black cloak and a triangular hair cut) is the leader of a cult of devil worshippers. He usually carries a black cat up his voluminous sleeve because his enemy, Dr. Verdegast, rolls his eyes and froths at the mouth when he sees black cats, and that suits Hjalmar. It seems that Dr. Verdegast (Bela Lugosi) has come back from a dungeon cell to claim his wife and child. Hjalmar has the wife in a glass case downstairs with his collection of embalmed beauties. He has married the daughter. Now it seems, too, that a young American novelist and his beautiful wife have had an accident and are spending the night as Hjalmar’s guests. Hjalmar needs a maiden for the mystic midnight rites. The novelist’s wife is elected after a symbolic chess game between the two enemies. If one may whisper that, near the end there is a big scene in which the mad doctor pegs Hjalmar to the wall and goes to work with his scalpels to flay the wicked hide off the mystic one, a prospective audience can get a pretty fair idea of what the scenario writers have put into “The Black Cat.” As for the cats, they hardly stay in front of the camera long enough to give the title a good workout, because the doctor is always pegging away at them with knives and automatics. The staging is good and the camera devotes a proper amount of attention to shadows and hypnotic eyes. There are also some good workmanlike screams from the various imperilled beauties. But “The Black Cat” is more foolish than horrible. The story and dialogue pile the agony on too thick to give the audience a reasonable scare. David Manners and Jacqueline Wells are Hjalmar’s guests. The Park Central Revue, making its first Broadway appearance, is on the Roxy’s stage. Teddy Bergman, Wesley Eddy and his “Gang,” and the Foster dancing girls are among the entertainers. THE BLACK CAT, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s story; directed by Edgar Ulmer; a Universal production. At the Roxy.  Hjalmar Poelzig . . . . . Boris Karloff  Dr. Verdegast . . . . . Bela Lugosi  Peter Alison . . . . . David Manners  Joan Alison . . . . . Jacqueline Wells  Karen Poelzig . . . . . Lucille Lund  Majordomo . . . . . Egon Brecher  Maid . . . . . Anna Duncan  Car steward . . . . . Herman Bing  Train conductor . . . . . Andre Cheron  Train steward . . . . . Luis Alberni

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Prescott Evening Courier, May 29, 1934

The Black Cat, Prescott Evening Courier, May 29, 1934

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Prescott Evening Courier, May 30, 1934

The Black Cat, Prescott Evening Courier, May 30, 1934

The Black Cat, Prescott Evening Courier, May 30, 1934

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The Miami News, May 30, 1934

The Black Cat, The Miami News, May 30, 1934

The Black Cat, The Miami News, May 30, 1934 b

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The Miami News, May 31, 1934

The Black Cat, The Miami News, May 31, 1934

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Prescott Evening Courier, May 31, 1934

The Black Cat, Prescott Evening Courier, May 31, 1934

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The Providence Journal, May 31, 1934

The Providence Journal May 31, 1934

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The Miami News, June 1, 1934

The Black Cat, The Miami News, June 1, 1934

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The Miami News, June 2, 1934

The Black Cat, The Miami News, June 2, 1934

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The Owosso Argus-Press, June 9, 1934

The Black Cat, The Owosso Argus-Press, June 9, 1934

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The Owosso Argus-Press, June 11, 1934

The Black Cat, The Owosso Argus-Press, June 11, 1934

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Spokane, Daily Chronicle, June 16, 1934

The Black Cat, Spokane, Daily Chronicle, June 16, 1934

The Black Cat, Spokane, Daily Chronicle, June 16, 1934 b

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The Montreal Daily Star, June 22, 1934

The Montreal Daily Star June 22, 1934

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The Black Cat, Filmografico (Mexico) June 1934

Filmografico (Mexico), June, 1934

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Lawrence Journal-World, July 13, 1934

The Black Cat, Lawrence Journal-World, July 13, 1934*

Unknown newspaper, July 13, 1934

The Black Cat

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The Sydney Morning Herald, August 1, 1934

The Black Cat, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 1, 1934*

Unknown newspaper

The Black Cat Newspaper Ad

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The Times, September 3, 1935

The Black Cat, The Times, September 3, 1935*

The Virgin Islands Daily News, September 1, 1934

The Black Cat, The Virgin Islands Daily News, September 1, 1934*

Ludington, Daily News, September 11, 1934

The Black Cat, Ludington, Daily News, September 11, 1934*

The Sunday Spartanburg Herald-Journal, September 23, 1934

The Black Cat, The Sunday Spartanburg Herald-Journal, September 23, 1934 c

The Black Cat, The Sunday Spartanburg Herald-Journal, September 23, 1934

The Black Cat, The Sunday Spartanburg Herald-Journal, September 23, 1934 b*

  Unknown Newspaper

The Black Cat 1*

Unknown Newspaper

The Black Cat Courtesy of Vintage Cinema Ads httpswww.facebook.compagesVintage-Cinema-Ads245402522241405(Courtesy of http://www.facebook.compagesVintage-Cinema)

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The Black Cat 2*

Trade Show advertisement for the re-titled UK release

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The Spokesman-Review, September 2, 1948

The Black Cat, The Spokesman-Review, September 2, 1948*

Posters

One Sheet

The Black Cat One Sheet Style B

Half Sheet

The Black Cat Half Sheet

Half SheetThe Black Cat Poster 3

Window Card

The Black Cat Window Card

 Swedish One Sheet

The Black Cat Swedish One Sheet

1953 Re-Release One Sheet

The Black Cat 1953 Re-Release One Sheet

1953 Re-Release Half Sheet

The Black Cat 1953 Re-Release Half Sheet

1953 Re-Release Insert

The Black Cat 1953 Re-Release Insert*

Pressbook

The Black Cat Pressbook 1

The Black Cat Pressbook 2

The Black Cat Press Book 3

The Black Cat Pressbook 4

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The Black Cat

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Lobby Cards

The Black Cat Lobby Card 3

The Black Cat Lobby Card 2

The Black Cat Lobby Card 1

The Black Cat Lobby Card 4

The Black Cat Lobby Card 5*

Stills

The Black CatThe Black Cat Front of House 2

The Black Cat Still 4

The Black Cat (2)

THe Black Cat Front of House 1(Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat (Courtesy of Paul Seiler) 21953 Re-Release Front of Hose CardsThe Black Cat Still 7

The Black Cat Re-Release Front of House

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Heralds

American Herald

The Black Cat Herald 1

The Black Cat Herald 2

Spanish Heralds

Spanish Herald

The Black Cat Spanish Herald 2

The Black Cat Spanish Herald*

Stills

Bela Lugosi

The Black Cat 1Bela Lugosi

Black Cat 2Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi

‘How these two, Karloff and Bela Lugosi, love each other. And now they are featured together in Universal’s “The Black Cat.”‘

The Black Cat 1

The Black Cat 2

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

The Black Cat Promotional Still

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat 2 PaulJacqueline Wells, David Manners and Bela Lugosi

(Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat 1 Paul

Boris Karloff

The Black Cat Still 2Boris Karloff

The Black Cat Still 1Boris Karloff

The Black CatBela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat 11Bela Lugosi, Lucille Lund and Boris Karloff

(Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

Bela Lugosi, Lucille Lund and Boris KarloffBoris Karloff and Bela Lugosi (Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat (Courtesy of Paul Seiler) 1Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat (Courtesy of Paul Seiler) 2

Bela Lugosi

Bela LugosiBela Lugosi and Harry Cording

Bela Lugosi and Harry CordingBela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, David Manners, Henry Armetta and Albert Conti

Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, David Manners, Henry Armetta and Albert ContiBela Lugosi and Henry Armetta

Bela Lugosi and Henry ArmettaBela Lugosi and David Manners

Bela Lugosi and David MannersBela Lugosi and Jacqueline Wells

Bela Lugosi and Jacqueline Wells The Black CatBela Lugosi and Jacqueline Wells

Bela Lugosi and Jacqueline Wells The Black Cat 2Jack Pierce and Boris Karloff (Courtesy of Paul Seiler)

The Black Cat - Jack Pierce and Boris KarloffBela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

Bela and Boris The Black Cat 1Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

Bela and Boris The Black Cat 2Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

The Black Cat - Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

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