Demi Moore photographed by Matthew Ralston.
Irena: Some nights there is another sound. The panther. It screams … like a woman. I hadn’t realized how dark it was getting. I like the dark — it is friendly.
(Cat People. Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen. RKO Pictures, 1942.)
I rented this from the library when I was 14 and it rocked my world. Super-hot. Not in a “furry” way — in a just-before-the-censors went nuts way. Sexy dialogue, dark and mysterious clouds coming out of sewers, thick bangs, blondes and brunettes, light bdsm and love triangles. Like, wow! And it’s all at Your Local Library.
Simone Simon, and the picture itself, have developed something of a cult following over the years — this is a coy understatement; there are like just under sixteen hundred blogs I’m sure dedicated to how to most precisely masturbate to the technical prowess of Tourneur’s Cat People — and the popularity of her portrayal as Irena in the film has not left the character of Catwoman untinged. In the 1966 Batman movie, “the Catwoman” (not series regular Jul-Newms, who was washing her hair, but rather your Miss America 1955 Lee Meriwether) poses as a sexy woman from the USSR named Miss Kitka Karenska, employing vaguely the same hairstyle and Romany-rich Eastern European accent used by Simone Simon in Cat People.
More importantly, after DC’s Infinite Crisis, which-kind-of-but-not-really restored a lot of the retconned into obsolescence storylines that were wiped out in Crisis on Infinite Earths, in One Year Later, Selina Kyle uses the name Irene Dubrovna when she must hide out in the underworld, having temporarily sort-of-retired from her Catwoman vigilante duties due to her pregnancy with Helena, her daughter. (This Helena is not the Helena Wayne of Earth-Two, nor the Helena Kyle of Earth-2, but a Helena in general, of whom what will become — eventually taking up the Huntress mask? tracking down her father for suresies? something else? — it remains to be seen.)