Friday, September 26, 2008

Kattorna (1965)

The movie is also known as The Cats (USA, UK), Cattorna – Verbotene Zärtlichkeiten (then West Germany), Les Chattes (Belgium, France), Las Gatas (Spain), Kvindedyr (Denmark) and Kissat (Finland).

Director: Danish Henning Carlsen
Writer: Walentin Chorell screenplay based on his own play.
Starring: Eva Dahlbeck, Gio Petre, Inga Gill, Monica Nielsen and more.
Duration: 91 minutes
Genre: Drama
Color: Black and White
Country: Sweden (Play Helsinski 1963)
Language: Swedish (English subtitles?)
Filmed: in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA and Stal-Laval factory, Nacka, Stockholms Ian, Sweden
Original Music: Krzysztof Komeda (Jazz!!! There is a CD available here)
NY Opening: March 24, 1969

Synopsis (Believe could be misleading but nevertheless here it is)
Sixteen women have catfights and make love in a sweaty laundry. Marta leads the workers at a laundry. She has lesbian tendencies and is unpopular. Among other things she has taken care of the problem-girl Rike, whom she undressed and gives a shower, after Rike has been out partying.. Rike suggests to the other ”cats”, that Marta has done things to her, that no real woman would do, and that another girl has sent to an asylum because of Marta’s treatment. ”The Cats” accuses Marta, which prompts her to tell them about her painful past: a ”dirty old man” frightened her when she was a girl. Since then she hates men.

Eva Dahlbeck won the 1965 Guldbagge Award for Best Actress for her role in this movie.
Henning Carlsen is an award winner and Cannes nominated director for many of his movies, so I tend to think that this has to be a good movie no matter what’s written about the movie in the net.

The film was screened in the 1995 Festival International Du Film De La Rochelle as part of a Tribute to Henning Carlsen and to check the info go here.

As I suspected this film is NOT sexplotation and this excerpt from the director’s site confirms it for me:

Peter Cowie writes in International Film Guide 1980:
“Four weeks after he had turned down an offer to make a Danish melodrama Carlsen got a call from Lorens Marmstedt in Sweden asking him to make The Cats. Although it could have emerged as a sordid commercial venture, The Cats succeeds in examining female problems with an acuity and a relentlessness that call to mind Zola, or the early Bergman. The huis clos in which the group of women torment each other is a laundry. Two of them are expecting a baby, and when their manageress, Märta, is apparently revealed as a lesbian, the woman vent their own emotional disgust on her. Behind their mask of cynicism these girls, if not necessarily deserving of sentimental pity, are at least emotional creatures, exploited not so much by their manageress as by the delivery man, Jonny, who preys on their loneliness and instability. The Cats stems from a play by the Finnish dramatist Walentin Chorell, and there is a vehemency in the film that mirrors the postwar mood of disillusionment in Scandinavia”.

And if you feel like reading more about this director and Kattorna check page 49 of the book The Danish Directors by Mette Hjort and Ib Bondebjerg that is here. Also there is more info on Le Nouveau Cinéma Scandinave, de 1957 á 1968 by Jean Béranger page 285.

Last, check the entry for the movie in The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1961-1970 by Kenneth W. Munden, Richard P. Krafsur, page 158 go here.

Now this really becomes a MUST BE SEEN movie for me, even when the story could be similar to other movies from that time like The Children’s Hour that I have seen. Then this movie has an all female cast with only one male actor, so do I need to say more?

This has been a great find and I hope that eventually I’ll be able to see this movie.

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