Claude Rains plays brilliant composer Alexander Hollenius, who is madly jealous when Bette Davis, his musical “protégée” (and we’re left in no doubt what that really means – the floosie has a wardrobe simply stuffed with fur coats) marries a cellist (Paul Henreid).
Hollenius has a very well-behaved Siamese cat, who figures in a couple of scenes, snoozing on a cushion or bed. Rains, in character, imposes his will on it by petting it quite maniacally, but it seems to enjoy this, and even holds its position without messing up continuity during several complicated exchanges of dialogue punctuated by camera dollies and zooms.
But for once, it’s hard to concentrate on the cat, since Rains – a riot of wild hair, untrammelled piano-playing and outrageous lounging around in dressing-gowns – is giving one of the most deliciously fruity performances in the history of cinema and it’s hard to tear your eyes away from him. He makes even Bette Davis look as though she’s underplaying.