Quote of the Day #4

“In the fraction of a second’s pause that followed, she saw the boy’s eyes swollen downward at the floor. A tongue of red was licking out at his bare foot from under the door. Just that in size and shape, the tip of a human tongue. But it was in flux, fluid. Right as their eyes beheld it it was already widening, lengthening, glittering with its own volatility.”

~ from Black Alibi, by Cornell Woolrich, adapted by Ardel Wray and Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur as THE LEOPARD MAN.

I’m actually kind of shocked at how close the set-pieces of Woolrich’s book are to the scenes in the movie, though it has to be said Tourneur’s choice of shots is more lucid and evocative than Woolrich’s choice of prose, at least in this case, the famous blood-under-the-door scene. However, CW has even more horror to bestow upon us ~

“He had snatched the door inward upon them before the mother’s slowly gathering scream had time to leave her. He jumped agilely back as though something had bitten him.

It was as though clots of red mud had been pelted at the outside of the door, until, adhering, they formed a sort of spattered mound up against it. There were rags mixed in with it, and snarls of hair, and even tiny crumbs of coral, broken off a string.

The mass sidled, disintegrated all over the threshold.”



5 Responses to “Quote of the Day #4”

  1. Christopher Says:

    well!..that big black kitty sure did a number on that little girl

  2. The Leopard Man has some of the best set-pieces, but is overall maybe the least of the Lewton-Tourneurs… it’s still excellent though. I like the mild, pipe-smoking maniac. The most Woolrichian AND Lewtonesque moment, the talk about fate and mankind being like the ball bouncing atop the fountain with no idea of the forces moving it — has no equivalent in the source story.

  3. Christopher Says:

    …Does the leopard actually kill the girl tho?? hmmm..After seeing this possibly a total of 12 times over the years..I’m still not sure who the real killer is in this..The Idea of a guy like the mild mannered James Bell character doing something to the kid as described by Woolrich above is even more horrifying..
    This movie packs alot of great moments in its 60 min running time..One of my faves is when Margo scares the panther away with her castanets!..and I like the failed rendevous in the Cemetary sequence..
    Isabell Jewell does a nice low key performance as the Fortune Teller..She tears my heart out every christmas as the seamstress in A Tale of Two Cities..

  4. A lot of really good character bits in this — and they’re tied together by the storytelling like in an Altman or John Sayles movie — we follow a character out of a scene and then pick somebody else up going the other way, leading us to a new little storyline. Woolrich loved tight structures composed of discrete episodes…

    Bell confesses to two murders but not the young girl’s — that does SEEM to be the work of the real leopard… but it is curiously (and scarily) unclear.

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