Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 286: The Black Cat (1941) - Rank 2/5


The premise of a black comedy featuring Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi was certainly a promising one. In fact, the story of a group of money-hungry relatives preying on the misfortunes of an old woman with the hopes of gaining her inheritance is not a bad one at that. But the execution for this Universal horror flick left something to be desired. The pacing is abominably slow and I found myself stopping the film and coming back to it twice. That's pretty sad when the film's runtime is 69 minutes.

Hell, I won't beat around the bush anymore. I just don't like Hugh Herbert. Sure, I've got a penchant for character actors, especially those with memorable schticks, from Franklin Pangborn's finger tenting to Frank Nelson's trademark "Yeeesssss." But Herbert's "hoo-hoo" laugh and bumbling nature just rubs me the wrong way. He feels like a cheap alternative to Lou Costello. And much to the dismay of many film fans, I will attest that while I love classic wacky comedy, from the Marx Brothers to the Three Stooges, I just don't find Abbot and Costello funny. So, needless to say, it doesn't help for a film to bank the majority of its humor around a comedian whose stylings are reminiscent of a medium that I detest. A Herbert caricature did appear regularly on Looney Tunes shorts, so evidently he was popular for some unearthly reason.


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