Black Cat

1941

Greedy heirs gather to wait for the death of Henrietta Winslow. Murder, thunder claps, howling cats, gun shots, screams in the night, hidden passages -- all the proper ingredients. Look for Alan Ladd in one of his famous tough guy roles. Not to be confused with the classic 1934 Black Cat, this is more comedy than horror but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Cast:
Basil Rathbone .... Hartley
Hugh Herbert .... Mr. Penny
Broderick Crawford .... Hubert Smith
Bela Lugosi .... Eduardo
Gale Sondergaard .... Abigail Doone
Gladys Cooper .... Myrna Hartley
Anne Gwynne .... Elaine Winslow
Cecilia Loftus .... Henrietta Winslow
Claire Dodd .... Margaret Gordon
John Eldredge .... Stanley Borden
Alan Ladd .... Richard Hartley

Anne Gwynne

Gale Sondergaard

Edith Holm (Gale) Sondergaard was born of Danish stock on February 15, 1899 in Litchfield, Minnesota. She was a late bloomer by film standards, not gaining her first role until she was 36 years old, when she made her first film appearance in Anthony Adverse (1936) and became the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this performance. It was a start of a promising career. In 1937, Gale starred in MAID OF SALEM and THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, Gale was one of the main inspirations for the look of the Evil Queen/Witch in Walt Disney's _Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was to have played the Wicked Witch of the West in 'The Wizard of Oz' but was dropped after screen tests showed her to be too glamorous for the role. She stayed fairlybusy through the balance of the 30's, but appeared in film after film in the 40's. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, THE MARK OF ZORRO, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, and ROAD TO RIO were just a few films which kept Gale busy and kept movie patrons coming to the theaters. In 1940 she played a role which would become one of her most identifiable, as the exotic and sinister wife in The Letter. She received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role in Anna and the King of Siam in 1946. Suddenly, the roles began to dry up. After two films in 1947, Gale didn't appear again on the silver screen until 1949 in the production of EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE. Caught up in the "Red Scare", she was blacklisted with her husband named as one of the Hollywood Ten in 1948. Herbert Biberman was sentenced to six months in Texarkana Prison and fined $1,000. She supported her husband during the production of Salt of the Earth (1954). Highly controversial when it was made, and not a commercial success, its artistic and cultural merit was recognised in 1992 when the National Film Preservation Board selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Blacklisted by the studios, Sondergaard did not appear in another Hollywood film until Savage Intruder in 1968. This was followed by Slaves (1969), Pleasantville (1976), The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976) and Echoes (1983). Two years later on August 14, 1985, Gale died of cerebral vascular thrombosis. She was 86 years old.

Claire Dodd

Dorothy Anne Dodd was born on December 29, 1908 in Des Moines, Iowa where her mother was on a trip. This did not appeal to her so she said she was born in Little Rock Arkansas where she was raised. Her father was a doctor who abandoned her and her mother before she was ten years old. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and Dorothy was forced to support her. She went to New York at the age of fifteen, lied about her age, and joined the Zeigfeild Follies where she was eventually discovered by Darryl F. Zanuck. He brought her to Hollywood and shepherded her throughout most of her career. She worked for Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Universal. She played the "other" woman and could not be cast as a "dumb blond" because of her cerebral nature and demeanor. Good friends with 'Betty Davis' with whom she worked in "Ex-Lady", she worked with everyone from Bogart and Flynn to Stanwyk, and Cagney. She played "Della Street" in one of the original Perry Mason thrillers "The case of the Velvet Claw" where she was the only Della Street to marry a Perry Mason. She played the female lead in "In the Navy" against Dick Powell but received lesser billing, which she claimed was a standard procedure practised on her in recompense for her aloofness. In fact, her nickname was "Ice Bucket". She worked in almost sixty films in twelve years from 1930 to 1942. She quit films and married H. Brand Cooper to whom she gave and raised four children. She undertook and completed this phase of her life after she was forty years old, giving bith to her last child at the age of forty-seven. She was to say the least a remarkable woman. She died in our family home from cancer on November 23, 1973.

IMDb mini-biography by John T. Cooper (her son)

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