Elebenty gazillion Basement Cats audition for a film

March 22, 2012 • 9:53 am

From Retronaut, we have pictures of tons of people bringing their black cats to a Hollywood audition in 1961.  I didn’t know what this was about but Catsparella (a great felid site) gave the answer:

Tales of Terror was a 1962 horror film starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone. Billed as a “Trilogy of Shock and Horror,” the film consisted of three short sequences, all based on Edgar Allan Poe stories: “Morella”, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”, and “The Black Cat.” On one auspicious day in 1961, an open audition was held in Hollywood to find the perfect cat to play the part of the the eponymous feline. Fortunately for us, photographer Ralph Crane was on hand to capture every glorious moment!

Casting call!

Preliminary inspection:

The stars see if they’re compatible with the felids:

Final tryouts on the set:

A sad loser goes home:


11 thoughts on “Elebenty gazillion Basement Cats audition for a film

  1. That first picture is quite a volatile situation. I know that my late cats would have caused a kitteh-donnybrook if put near… well… even just one other stranger-cat, let alone several dozen.

    Also, I’m sure the rejected cats were glad not to have been taken to the vee-ee-tee.

  2. Ah, back in the days before pet carriers were ubiquitous.

    We used to take our family cat (black, coincidentally) to the vet in a pillow case upon his recommendation. It seemed odd at first, but cats like to be up high or hidden when they are nervous, so being hidden in a cloth bag suited her just fine and seemed to calm her. But these days I suspect a vet and the other customers in the waiting room would look at me askance if I brought in a cat in a pillow case. I’m almost tempted to use a large, pillowcase-lie bank money bag I have–I don’t think the kitteh would mind since he likes being carried around the house hidden in baskets and bags.

  3. Poe is one of my favorite authors of fiction.

    I’m not sure why the filmmakers thought such extensive adaptation was necessary. They certainly didn’t stick to the facts in “M. Valdemar.” His body does not putrefy until taken out of the trance (the trance having a preservative effect), and he doesn’t “rise up” to kill anyone.

    Also, why did they need to commingle “The Black Cat” with “The Cask of Amontillado”?

    I realize that the “realistically plausible” ship has sailed in regard to many of Poe’s stories. Nonetheless, one of the things I like about them is that he (most of the time) avoids the outlandishly impossible – the idea being that he’s not writing horror or ghost stories per se, but simply describing morbid/gruesome events that require much less suspension of disbelief than an outright ghost story.

    1. Another lover of Poe, here. In addition to the morbid-but-plausible angle, he often blurs the lines between fancy and reality with a (frequently long-winded) opening that casts doubts on the narrator’s sanity. “Did it really happen or have I just gone off the deep end?”

      And this would have been the perfect role for my little Murciélago.

  4. Love that there are a zillion of them and NONE of them wants anything to do with any of the others. So anti-social! (or just picky)

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