The Leopard Man, 1943, Jacques Tourneur

The Leopard Man (1943)

Studio: RKO; Regie: Jacques Tourneur; Drehbuch: Ardel Wray, Edward Dein nach dem Roman von Cornell Woolrich; Kamera: Robert De Grasse; Musik: Roy Webb; Darsteller: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Abner Biberman. 35mm, sw, 66 min
 
Jacques Tourneurs letzter Film mit dem ukrainischen "Sultan of Shudders" Val Lewton, einem gebildeten, hochsensiblen (also fast erfunden anmutenden) Hollywood-Produzenten, der ins Gewebe seiner Low-Budget-Horror-Thriller die nachtdunkle Materie der Phantasie und die Silberfäden des Poetischen eingewoben wissen wollte. In The Leopard Man ist der Horror blank und kalt: Tötungen, Zerfleischungen geschehen und es bleibt ungewiss, ob hinter ihnen der Reißzahn des entsprungenen Zirkus-Leoparden oder die Abart eines Mörders steht. (H. T.)
 

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As the third and final film directed by Jacques Tourneur for the legendary Val Lewton, The Leopard Man forges a striking trilogy by profoundly extending and responding to the earlier two films, Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie. Besides the deceptively lurid titles imposed upon Lewton by RKO, the three films share a similar tone and thematic, each offering brooding and melancholy fables meditating on outsiderness, mortality and the specter of an inexorable yet arbitrary fate. These are, of course, major themes that resonate across the rest of Lewton's RKO productions and Tourneur's later films. In The Leopard Man, however, these themes are given a new dimension by a radical narrative strategy that deliberately denies the spectator any fixed character identification and profoundly reorientates the terms of the supernatural mystery genre so successfully invented by the previous two Tourneur-Lewton's films. The critical distance defined by The Leopard Man from the earlier films also marked an important departure for Tourneur, announcing the pointed yet understated engagement with genre and narrative that would become one of the signatures of his deeply nuanced cinema. (Haden Guest)

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