The Leopard Man

Screening on Film
Directed by Jacques Tourneur.
With Dennis O’Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks.
US, 1943, 35mm, black & white, 65 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

Adapted from Cornell Woolrich’s novel Black Alibi, the New Mexico-set story is set in motion when a nightclub entertainer loses her grip on a black leopard being employed as a publicity stunt – a Freudian accident never resolved in this most dreamlike film. Three women are killed, but the promoter responsible for the leopard’s escape begins to suspect a human killer behind the seemingly impersonal deaths. Lewton and Tourneur’s final collaboration evinces little interest in the mechanisms of the whodunit, instead developing the peripheral detail of the city’s streets towards a radically de-centered narrative structure in which the plot jumps from one character to another. “This film still seems to be one of Hollywood’s original gems,” wrote Manny Farber in 1952, “Nothing impure in terms of cinema, nothing imitative about its styles, and little that misses fire through a lack of craft.” 

Part of program

Read more

The Glitter of Putrescence. Val Lewton at RKO

Current and upcoming programs