Curse of the Cat People (1944): Robert Wise’s Directing Debut, Sequel to Cat People, Starring Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph (Children, Christmas, Sequel)

From the Archives

Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise (in his first directing credit) and again produced by Val Lewton, Curse of the Cat People is a psychological horror thriller, starring Simone Simon, Kent Smith, and Jane Randolph.

Narrative Premise:

Amy, a strange yet sensitive young girl, befriends the ghost of her father’s deceased first wife, Irena, a Serbian fashion designer who descended from a race of people who could transform into cats.

A sequel to the smash hit, Cat People (1942), the movie features many of the same characters, but it is only tangentially related to its predecessor, a better movie in any respect.

After the death of his wife, Irena Dubrovna, engineer Oliver Reed has remarried to former co-worker Alice. The couple now have a six-year-old daughter, Amy, and reside in Tarrytown, New York.

Oliver worries about Amy’s introversion and predilection to fantasy– her behavior reminds him of too much of Irena, whose madness drove her to death.

At her parents urgings, Amy attempts to make friends with the neighborhood children, but they spurn her. While walking through the neighborhood, Amy pauses in front a large house, which the other children claim is inhabited by a witch.

An elderly woman’s voice beckons Amy from a second-floor window, and she follows. From the window, the woman drops a handkerchief and a ring to the ground. Amy takes it, though the hankie is promptly snatched from her by Barbara Farren, the elderly woman’s dejected daughter.

The Reeds’ butler, Edward, tells Amy the ring appears to be a “wishing ring” and suggests she make a wish to it. In the garden, Amy wishes simply for a friend. Moments later, a wind encircles her, and she begins frolicking with what Oliver and Edward observe as an imaginary friend. The next day, Amy goes back to the house to return the ring. She is met inside by Barbara’s eccentric elderly mother, a former stage actress named Julia. Julia tells Amy that her real daughter is in dead, and that Barbara is a spy posing as her. Amy looks on as Julia dramatically reenacts the legend of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, but the story is cut short when Edward comes to retrieve Amy. After Amy leaves, Barbara chastises Julia for the way she treats her, but Julia continues to insist that Barbara is an imposter, and that her daughter died when she was six years old.

Amy has a nightmare about the Headless Horseman. She is calmed, however, by the maternal presence of her friend – manifesting as a shadow – which sings a song to her.

In the morning, Amy finds a photo of Irena, whom she identifies as her mysterious new friend, forcing Alice to hide it.

Wandering outside, Amy meets Irena’s ghost, and the two play in the garden. On Christmas Eve, Amy slips outside during family gathering to give Irena a gift. She then visits the Farren house on Christmas Day, and gifts Julia a ring.

This enrages Barbara, whose gifts have been rejected by Julia; Barbara vows to murder Amy should she return to the house.

Amy finds a photo of Oliver and Irena together, and insists that she knows her, but Oliver dismisses it as Amy’s fantasy and punishes her.

sobs in her bedroom, she is visited by Irena, telling her that she must depart. Amy begs Irena to stay, but she disappears.

Amy becomes caught in a blizzard as she wanders, eventually seeking shelter at the Farren’s home. Julia takes her in, but attempts to hide her upstairs, fearing Barbara will harm Amy.

Julia suffers a heart attack while climbing the stairs, and dies. Barbara then menacingly approaches Amy. Frightened, Amy invokes Irena, who replaces Barbara’s image.

Oliver embraces Amy, and the two return home. On the porch, Oliver agrees to accept his daughter’s imaginary companions. Irena, watching from the garden, then disappears.


Ann Carter as Amy Reed
Kent Smith as Oliver Reed
Jane Randolph as Alice Reed
Simone Simon as Irena Dubrovna Reed
Eve March as Miss Callahan
Julia Dean as Julia Farren
Elizabeth Russell as Barbara Farren
Erford Gage as Police Captain
Sir Lancelot as Edward


I am grateful to TCM for showing this movie on July 5, 2022, allowing me to revisit my memories and notes.