Tonight- while visions of sugar plums and/or dreidels dance in one’s head- we bring you the gift of comedy and chills, with a visit from that jolly old elf Bob Hope (though not in his Christmas- tinged “Lemon Drop Kid”) in 1939’s “The Cat and the Canary”!
We start out, not on a sleigh ride, but in a boat- with several relatives and the lawyer of deceased millionaire Cyrus Norman- on the way to his mansion located in a remote section of the bayou. The occasion is not a holiday celebration- it’s the reading of the old man’s will- which appears to have taken some time, since he passed away ten years ago- but, the family is finally going to find out exactly who he has chosen as heir to his vast fortune. The roster of relatives is equally odd- radio star Wally- lovely magazine artist Joyce, and a few testy and high-strung family members. Greeting this group is the strange Miss Lu- the late Mr. Norman’s housekeeper with a penchant for the supernatural- who claims there are many signs that spirits from the nether world are all around the mansion.
The lawyer finds the will , divided into two parts- noticing, but not telling the assembled family, that one part has been tampered with by…someone or something.He reads the group the directive of the first part, indicating the identity of the principal heir.The will also states an odd warning- should the chosen person meet their maker, or be found to be insane -a condition that appears to run in the family- within the next thirty days- the second part of the will, which remains unrevealed (except to the tampering party)until such a thing occurs, will pronounce a new heir who will then take possession of the estate.
There is no joy in the bayou residence when the would-be heirs find that they must stay remain as house guests overnight- since there will be no boat service out tonight! Things only get worse, with more seemingly supernatural events- the news that a deranged killer, escaped from a local asylum, is in the area- and then- the disappearance of one visitor! The old dark house slowly reveals more odd occurrences, secret messages, and hidden treasures- and then- a dead body! It seems there’s no way out of this nightmare- and no telling who might be the next victim!
This story began its show-biz life as a stage play, and went on to be filmed several times, starting with a famous silent film version. This incarnation not only stars a young and energetic Bob Hope, who was just hitting the heights of stardom, but also the captivating and beautiful Paulette Goddard. We also get a typically creepy turn by Gale Sondergaard, and George Zucco as the distinguished family lawyer. We’ll introduce you to the cast, and give additional information about the movie- including what some viewers mistakenly swear is an in-joke- plus, some fun in honor of our movie’s star, and another musical number featuring the trumpet stylings of our own Doug Graves- and- yes, Virginia- we WILL get a visit from Sventa Claus!
“Cat and the Canary” appears like the luster of mid-day on the new-fallen snow tonight at 10 pm eastern/pacific, 9 central, or check local listings or at www.metv.com . In Chicago, our viewers get re-gifted with “Brides of Dracula”” on our sister station, WCIU, the U, at 11 am.
I do expect that , understandably,some of our regular viewers may not be with us tonight, due to holiday celebrations- regardless, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday- no matter which holiday you observe. May you be with those you care about- remember those who won’t be with you- and try to keep the peace, love , and joy of the season going throughout the year. As always, my thanks for your support- a gift that I truly treasure! And- please stop in at Kerwyn’s Christmas Corner here on our website under the videos tab, where he displays some of the cards we’ve received from our friends.
And- on this night of nights- how appropriate that we bring you- HOPE!!!