The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code)1971

The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) (1971)




Critic Consensus: The Cat O'Nine Tails is a solidly entertaining Argento outing elevated by a well-chosen cast and the director's distinctive visual style.

The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) Photos

Movie Info

In this flawed mystery-thriller from flamboyant horror director Dario Argento, Karl Malden portrays a blind man who joins forces with a reporter (James Franciscus) to catch a killer with an extra chromosome. Much of the action occurs at a research hospital, where the killer seeks to conceal the original crime with still more murders. Easily the least interesting of Argento's early thrillers (which include the superior L'Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo and Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio), this film seems almost a parody of the genre at times, with preposterous coincidences and bogus Freudian analysis substituting for genuine mystery. Those familiar with the director's work may find it difficult to believe that Argento was responsible, but some undeniable stylistic touches -- such as one victim's wallpaper resembling a blood-splattered wall -- reveal that even a genius can make bad films. Ennio Morricone's soundtrack and a cast including Catherine Spaak and Pier Paolo Capponi offer little relief. The American version is missing approximately twenty minutes. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

Watch it now


Karl Malden
as Franco Arno
James Franciscus
as Carlo Giordani
Catherine Spaak
as Anna Terzi
Carlo Alighiero
as Dr. Calabresi
Pier Paolo Capponi
as Police Superintendent Spimi
Corrado Olmi
as Morsella
Tino Carraro
as Prof. Terzi
Aldo Reggiani
as Dr. Casoni
Horst Frank
as Dr. Braun
Emilio Marchesini
as Dr. Mombelli
Tom Felleghy
as Dr. Esson
Rada Rassimov
as Bianca Merusi
View All

Critic Reviews for The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code)

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (2)

The film's 9 disparate leads will eventually be synthesised, but on the way there are a lot of blind alleys, false trails & red herrings, as much obscuring as revealing the solution in a manner that recalls the parable of the blind men & an elephant.

January 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Set against a backdrop of genetic research and espionage, Argento's formal obsession with allusions to seeing and sightlessness is on fierce display.

November 8, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Argento reportedly doesn't care much for this picture, but that shouldn't stop the rest of us from enjoying its twisty tale.

June 16, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The film is an entertaining and involving reminder of why Argento has long been recognized as one of the masters of the giallo thriller.

September 4, 2020 | Rating: 3.0/4.0 | Full Review…

Argento tamps down his more extreme stylist instincts to fashion a somewhat more conventional mystery, albeit with unconventional characters.

August 3, 2018 | Full Review…

The casting is spot-on.

January 25, 2018 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code)

Not as memorable as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage but this was the early days when Argento was still trying to find his voice in the Giallo world. It's a bit overlong and the ending is shockingly abrupt (It reminded me of Vertigo) but there's just enough twists and humor to keep it from becoming boring and James Franciscus and Karl Malden play off each other very well.

A.D. Villarreal
A.D. Villarreal

Super Reviewer


Dario Argento's second film is a fairly underrated Giallo film. Argento has long expressed that Cat O' Nine Tails is one of least favorite films. Yet, this is a solid piece of Italian horror cinema. A film that is thrilling, horrifying and suspenseful. As a second work, Argento would mould and sharpen his skills as a director and along with his debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage; Cat O' Nine Tails was just the early horrifying attempts by Argento to create memorable horror films. This is an underrated film, and though Dario Argento has directed far superior Giallo films such as Deep Red, Tenebrae and Opera, Cat O' Nine Tails is still a well crafted film. The cast do a fine job here and the plot is thrilling, suspenseful, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Dario Argento has made a terrific Giallo film with Cat O' Nine Tails, and it doesn't deserve the hatred it has received. I have to admit that despite this not being the strongest of Dario Argento's films, this is still a must see for fans of the director. Cat O' Nine Tails has enough thrills going for it to appeal to the Argento Connoisseur. Karl Malden delivers a solid performance Cat O' Nine Tails is very well crafted Giallo film, and despite Argento's mixed feeling about his film, this, I think is nonetheless a great film with a wonderful cast, effective story, and plenty of mystery and thrills that is a signature in all of Argento's Giallo's. Everything you'd expect from a great Giallo film is here, and as an Argento fan, I very much recommend it. An underrated film that is better than what critics have claimed it to be.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

To be honest, I didn't find The Cat O'Nine Tails to be all that great. I actually found it kind of boring. The signature giallo plot twists are there and there isn't much gore to be seen (as Argento is usually known for), but it wasn't very appealing. I find it interesting to see Karl Malden pop up in a seemingly stripped-down mystery thriller, but it feels more like an American best-of rather than being its own thing. I found The Bird with the Crystal Plumage to be far superior, even though it came first. Dario Argento would go on to perfect the giallo later in the decade, while he felt this to be his weakest effort. I would have to concur with that. It's not terrible, but it's certainly lackluster.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features