When a supposedly tame black leopard escapes from a New Mexico nightclub, young girls start to die - horribly. While the police desperately search for the beast, nightclub singer Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks) and her manager Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe) start to suspect that someone - or something - far worse is responsible for the killings. Something is stalking the small town, something with an overwhelming compulsion to kill and kill again...
Spoilers follow ...
- The Leopard Man review by NP
(0) of (0) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 3
In Val Lewton films, there’s always at least one scene that sticks in the mind. ‘The Isle of the Dead’ features the awakening of a body buried in a casket, in the ‘Body Snatchers’, we have the unforgettable finale. Here we have several , including the increasingly distraught teenage girl returning home, pounding at the door of her home with her mother heartlessly refusing to let her in – followed by silence, and the spreading of a pool of blood beneath the closed door.
Charlie (Abner Biberman) is nice, he likes his big cat. It earns him a good living and he clearly adores it. Alongside the animal itself, he is ‘The Leopard Man’s most likeable character. Dennis O’Keefe is a good leading man. Sad-eyed Jean Brooks plays Kiki Walker. Only the maracas-playing Clo-Clo (Margo) annoys – her jealousy that the cat would steal her thunder and her teasing of the animal causes killings and other unfortunate events to spiral, yet she shows no sign of giving a darn – until she gets her comeuppance, that is.
The implication of a man/leopard hybrid is completely absent in the story – in fact the revelation the feline has been dead before some of the killings take place, and that the murderer is a mere human, is a little disappointing (only the trailer implied a lycanthropic plotline). It’s true to say this is not Lewton’s most effective production: the modern day setting is less suggestive of gothic flavour than other, period pieces. Having said that, he and Director Jacques Tourneur ensure there are some chilling set-pieces, my favourite being the sombre funeral procession, with murmuring, candle-holding mourners making their way across a barren, windswept studio set, led by black robed lamenters.