The Cat and the Canary (play)
The Cat and the Canary is a stage play by John Willard, adapted at least four times into feature films, in 1927, 1930, 1939, and again in 1979. The original stage play opened on February 7, 1922 in New York City.
The story concerns the death and inheritance of old Cyrus West, a rich eccentric who felt that his relatives "have watched my wealth as if they were cats, and I -- a canary". He decrees that his will be read twenty years after his death, at which point his relatives converge at his old family home, now a spooky old haunted mansion.
The will reads that his most distant relative still bearing the name of West be sole heir provided they are legally sane. The rest of the night spent in the house calls into question the sanity of Annabelle West, a fragile young woman who is legally Cyrus West's heir.
Film and TV versions
- The 1930 version, made under the title The Cat Creeps is now considered a lost film. The Cat Creeps was Universal's first horror film with sound and dialogue, predating its classic Universal horror films like Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), and The Invisible Man (1933).
- The 1939 version, directed by Elliott Nugent, stars Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, and Gale Sondergaard. This version is mainly comedic. Universal, who owned the rights to the play, sold them to Paramount Pictures for this production. The film, along with the 1940 film The Ghost Breakers, was an inspiration to Walt Disney for his Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland.
- On 27 September 1960, a one-hour version of the play was presented on Dow Hour of Great Mysteries on NBC Television.
- The 1979 British version, written and directed by Radley Metzger, stars Honor Blackman, Michael Callan, Edward Fox, Wendy Hiller, Olivia Hussey, Wilfred Hyde-White, Beatrix Lehmann, Carol Lynley, Daniel Massey, and Peter McEnery.