Val Lewton & Jacque Tourneur's CAT PEOPLE 1942 & I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE 1943

Last year we attended an evening dedicated to the RKO Studios at the Motion Picture Academy and a major turning point in that studio's history was the release of wonderfully produced, but low budget horror films from Val Lewton--a journalist, novelist and poet turned story editor for famed producer David O'Selznick. Though after producing Orson Welles "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" and other prestigious, but financially disappointing movies, RKO agreed to hire Lewton to make horror films, but only with the proviso that he would agree to limit their budgets to $150,000. Both of these rare big screen showings  of these films in beautiful black & white will be in 35mm. CAT PEOPLE will screen at 7:30 p.m. followed by I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE at 9:05 p.m.

CAT PEOPLE tells the unusual story of a young Serbian woman, "Irena" as portrayed by actress Simone Simon, who believes herself to be a descendant of a race of people who turn into cats when sexually aroused. The film was quickly shot from July 28 to August 21, 1942 at RKO's Gower Street studios (now part of the Paramount Pictures lot at Gower & Melrose--though you can see the painted over remnant of the distinctive RKO globe at corner building across the street from Astro Burger). To reduce production costs, Lewton and his talented director Jacques Tourneur recycled sets from other RKO films including the grand staircase from "The Magnificent Ambersons." Costing $141,659, CAT PEOPLE brought in almost $4 million in its first two years of release and saved the studio from financial disaster. Since there was practically no budget for elaborate and expensive optical special effects, it forced the filmmakers to be creative with lighting, mood, actors and viewers' imaginations. The film inspired a successful remake in the 1980's which starred Natasha Kinski.

The success of CAT PEOPLE led to a second pairing of Lewton and Tourneur one year later with I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE starring Francis Dee. This title is another example of Lewton's flair for effectively creating horror by suggestion and mood rather than overt special effects.

Tickets: $8.00 general admission available online at the below weblink or at the boxoffice.

Parking: Metered street parking is available within a couple of blocks of the theatre. Please do not park on nearby residential streets without carefully reading any parking restriction signs so that you do not end up with an expensive parking ticket.

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  • Eldridge P.

    I hope the parking is not a big problem. I have had some expensive parking experiences in WeSt Hollywood several years ago

    March 20, 2014

    • Jono

      When we occasionally attend screenings at the New Beverly Theater please be aware that street parking on La Brea Avenue (right around the corner) becomes available beginning at 7pm, most of their screenings don't start prior to 7:30pm and the boxoffice opens 20 minutes prior to screenings. So my advice is to arrive close to 7pm and park on La Brea near Beverly.

      March 21, 2014

  • Tom S.

    "Cat People" was fantastice: a revelation seeing it on the big screen in 35 mm. "I Walked With A Zombie" was nowhere near as good but amiable entertainment for 80 minutes. Dinner and the camaraderie of the group members who came were great!

    1 · March 20, 2014

  • Jono

    Dear attendees, please feel free to communicate with member TOM SANCHEZ directly via his profile message link if you would like to have dinner beforehand at Cayenne. I am counting my pennies after getting a $93 parking ticket attending a Meetup related retro disco night in Silverlake last Saturday (related to the Marathon--though Sunset was not supposed to be officially closed until 4am and I got ticketed at 1am), so I am not sure if I will do the dinner or not yet. Thank you.

    March 10, 2014

  • Tom S.

    Jon,

    Can I propose eating before the film at Cayenne, a great and moderately-priced Mediterranean (Italian, Spanish, Lebanese) cuisine? It's owned by friends of mine, Sam and Noura, owner of the late, great Café Noura, on Melrose, for people who remember that great restaurant of the 80's and 90's.

    The quality of the food is outstanding and entrees are from the $10-$20 range for complete dinners.

    Cayenne is next door to the New Beverly Theater.

    March 7, 2014

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