The Leopard Man (1943)

59 or 65-66 mins | Mystery | 8 May 1943

Director:

Jacques Tourneur

Writer:

Ardel Wray

Producer:

Val Lewton

Cinematographer:

Robert de Grasse

Editor:

Mark Robson

Production Designers:

Albert D'Agostino, Walter E. Keller

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a pre-production news item in HR , producer Val Lewton initially assigned DeWitt Bodeen to write the screenplay for this film. Another HR pre-production news item notes that Rita Corday was to play a lead in the film. Corday does not appear in the released film, however, and the extent of Bodeen's contribution to the screenplay has not been determined. A news item in LAT adds that RKO negotiated with Lon Chaney, Jr. to appear in this picture. According to an RKO Legal Files memo from Lewton to Wynn Rocamora, the agent for the actress Margo, Lewton offered to restructure Cornell Woolrich's novel to expand the part of "Clo-Clo," the role that Lewton wanted Margo to play. According to a contemporary interview with writer Ardel Wray as reprinted in a modern source, the film exteriors were shot around Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was director Jacques Tourneur's third and last picture for Lewton. It also marked Ben Bard's first screen appearance since the 1934 film The White Parade (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; ... More Less

According to a pre-production news item in HR , producer Val Lewton initially assigned DeWitt Bodeen to write the screenplay for this film. Another HR pre-production news item notes that Rita Corday was to play a lead in the film. Corday does not appear in the released film, however, and the extent of Bodeen's contribution to the screenplay has not been determined. A news item in LAT adds that RKO negotiated with Lon Chaney, Jr. to appear in this picture. According to an RKO Legal Files memo from Lewton to Wynn Rocamora, the agent for the actress Margo, Lewton offered to restructure Cornell Woolrich's novel to expand the part of "Clo-Clo," the role that Lewton wanted Margo to play. According to a contemporary interview with writer Ardel Wray as reprinted in a modern source, the film exteriors were shot around Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was director Jacques Tourneur's third and last picture for Lewton. It also marked Ben Bard's first screen appearance since the 1934 film The White Parade (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.5084). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 May 1943.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 May 43
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 43
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1942.
---
Motion Picture Herald
8 May 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Apr 43
p. 1241.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 May 43
p. 1303.
New York Times
20 May 43
p. 26.
Variety
5 May 43
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Supv
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus
SOUND
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich (New York, 1942).
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 May 1943
Production Date:
9 February--8 March 1943
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 May 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12246
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
59 or 65-66
Length(in feet):
5,940
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9179
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a nightclub in a small New Mexican town, Clo-Clo, an exotic Latin dancer, upstages the performance of Kiki Walker. To draw attention to his client, Kiki's press agent, Jerry Manning, rents a black leopard for her to use in the act. As Kiki leads the leopard onstage, however, it becomes frightened by the sounds of Clo-Clo's castanets and escapes. That night, as Clo-Clo walks home from the club, she passes the Delgado house. Inside, Mrs. Delgado orders her daughter Teresa to go to the store, and when the little girl protests that she is terrified to go outside because of the leopard, her mother pushes her out the door. Upon finding the village store closed for the evening, Teresa is forced to cross the arroyo to shop at another store. On her way home, the leopard emerges from the shadows and attacks her. Running home, Teresa cries for her mother to open the door, but when the lock becomes stuck, Mrs. Delgado can only watch in horror as her daughter's blood seeps under the door. The next day, the sheriff, Chief Roblos, organizes a posse to search for the beast, and during the hunt, Jerry meets Dr. Galbraith, the curator of an Indian museum. That night, at the club, a fortune-teller reads Clo-Clo's cards and fortells that the dancer will receive a sum of money from a rich man, after which the "black card of death" will follow. The next morning at a flower vendor, Clo-Clo meets Rosita, the maid to Consuelo Contreras, a young noblewoman. Rosita brings flowers to her mistress in honor of her birthday, and ... +


At a nightclub in a small New Mexican town, Clo-Clo, an exotic Latin dancer, upstages the performance of Kiki Walker. To draw attention to his client, Kiki's press agent, Jerry Manning, rents a black leopard for her to use in the act. As Kiki leads the leopard onstage, however, it becomes frightened by the sounds of Clo-Clo's castanets and escapes. That night, as Clo-Clo walks home from the club, she passes the Delgado house. Inside, Mrs. Delgado orders her daughter Teresa to go to the store, and when the little girl protests that she is terrified to go outside because of the leopard, her mother pushes her out the door. Upon finding the village store closed for the evening, Teresa is forced to cross the arroyo to shop at another store. On her way home, the leopard emerges from the shadows and attacks her. Running home, Teresa cries for her mother to open the door, but when the lock becomes stuck, Mrs. Delgado can only watch in horror as her daughter's blood seeps under the door. The next day, the sheriff, Chief Roblos, organizes a posse to search for the beast, and during the hunt, Jerry meets Dr. Galbraith, the curator of an Indian museum. That night, at the club, a fortune-teller reads Clo-Clo's cards and fortells that the dancer will receive a sum of money from a rich man, after which the "black card of death" will follow. The next morning at a flower vendor, Clo-Clo meets Rosita, the maid to Consuelo Contreras, a young noblewoman. Rosita brings flowers to her mistress in honor of her birthday, and later that afternoon, Consuelo visits a cemetery to keep a secret rendezvous with her lover, Raoul Belmonte. When Raoul is late for their meeting, Consuelo is locked within the cemetery walls by the gatekeeper. As night falls and the wind begins to howl, Consuelo calls for help and is answered by a man who promises to return with a ladder. Before he comes back, however, Consuelo hears a rustling in the trees and screams in terror. The next day, when Consuelo's body is found clawed to death, Galbraith and Roblos are certain that she was assaulted by the leopard. Jerry begins to have doubts, however, and goes to speak with the cat's owner, an Indian named Charlie How-Come. After Charlie, who rented the animal to Jerry, assures him that the cat is not vicious, Jerry takes Charlie to the museum to consult with Galbraith. When Jerry proposes that Consuelo's assailant was human, Galbraith suggests that Charlie could have killed the girl when he was drunk. Fearful that Galbraith might be right, Charlie insists upon being jailed for murder. That night at the club, Clo-Clo meets a wealthy old man who gives her a $100 bill. On her way home, she visits the fortune-teller, who once again uncovers the black card of death. After arriving safely home, Clo-Clo discovers that she has lost her money and ventures back onto the street to retrieve it. There, after hearing the shuffle of footsteps, Clo-Clo stares in horror as her attacker lunges from the dark. After Clo-Clo's death, Roblos sends for the state hunter and Charlie is exonerated. Jerry and Kiki plan to leave for Chicago, but when Galbraith sends Kiki a farewell bouquet of flowers, she feels compelled to place them at the site of Consuelo's murder in the cemetery. There, Kiki confesses her love to Jerry and insists upon staying in town to catch the killer. When Charlie finds his leopard dead, lying by the side of the arroyo, Jerry remembers that he saw Galbraith enter the arroyo and tells Roblos that the curator killed the animal. Roblos refuses to arrest Galbraith without evidence, however, and so Jerry seeks Raoul's help in exposing the murderer. That night, during the rites of a religious procession, Galbraith walks along the street toward the museum. As he passes the cemetery, he hears a woman's screams followed by the clicking of castanets. Panicking, Galbraith rushes to the museum, and soon after, Kiki arrives to watch the procession pass. When she insists upon turning off the lights to better see the procession, Kiki drops a pair of castanets, causing Galbraith to flee and join the marchers. Jerry and Raoul follow and subdue Galbraith, who then confesses to murdering Consuelo and Clo-Clo after watching the leopard maul Teresa. Out of revenge for his lost love, Raoul shoots Galbraith, and later, outside the funeral parlor, Jerry and Kiki reaffirm their love for each other. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.