The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) [DVD, WB/MGM Import - English audio, removable subtitles]

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) [DVD, WB/MGM Import - English audio, removable subtitles]

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Allegedly written with Lee Van Cleef in mind, and a project in which John Wayne was interested (he proved too expensive), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing had a colourful shoot which included a dramatic coroner’s inquest after a mysterious motel death and Reynolds being injured during a fight with Jack Warden (they had insisted on doing their own stunt work) and rushed to hospital in Los Angeles for treatment on an abdominal hernia.

Based on a novel by Marilyn Durham, written for the screen by Eleanor Perry, Cat Dancing is in many ways a woman’s western, with Sarah Miles taking centre stage as a woman on the run from a husband (George Hamilton) she doesn’t love. She first encounters Reynolds when she interrupts his gang in the middle of a train robbery. But he has troubles of his own, a quest to retrieve the children he was forced to abandon many years before.

It’s a western full of the sex and violence so typical of the genre by the mid-70s, and an excellent supporting cast - Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, George Hamilton - is ultimately underused, but all the same The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing has its admirers, who cite Reynolds’ performance as “the heart and dark soul of the film” and the film itself as “Burt Reynolds’ best movie”. (Reynolds himself is described as “handsome, sexy and funny”, and in truth this was a major part of his box office appeal.) Director Richard C. Sarafian took over the production late on in proceedings but delivered a professional product, with a script polished by Sarah Miles’ then husband Robert Bolt and evocative cinematography by Harry Stradling Jr.

Spanish Region 2 PAL (fully UK-compatible) DVD, Impulso/WB/MGM 2010, Cert. 18

Please note: This letterboxed widescreen transfer is best viewed on a ‘Zoom’ setting on your player or TV. Subtitles have been tested and confirmed removable, but it may be necessary to use player menus as well as disc menus to remove them.

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