Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding the Lewton Bus to "Cat People"

It's an iconic scene in film history.
Something sinister seems to be pursuing Jane Randolph's Alice Moore down a lonely stretch of road in "CAT PEOPLE," the 1942 horror film produced by VAL LEWTON, directed by JACQUES TOURNEUR and edited by MARK ROBSON -- a trio of pioneering, frequent collaborators.
Looking over her shoulder in terror at the unseen danger, Randolph instead recoils at the hissing air brake of a bus coming down the opposite side of the road.
It's a device now called the "LEWTON BUS," and it would become a common convention of the horror filmmaker.
Rob White quotes Robson in the book, "British Film Institute Film Classics: The Best of International Cinema 1916-1981:"
"In each of these films we had what we called the 'bus,' an editing device I had invented by accident, or possibly by design, on 'Cat People,' that was calculated to terrify people and make them jump out of their seats."
The Lewton Bus is just one of the joys of "Cat People," a film I watched tonight to kick off a brief vacation.


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