Cat Chaser
DVD cover
Directed byAbel Ferrara
Written byElmore Leonard
James Borelli
Produced byPeter S. Davis
William N. Panzer
StarringPeter Weller
Kelly McGillis
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited byAnthony Redman
Music byChick Corea
Distributed byVestron Pictures
Release date
  • December 8, 1989 (1989-12-08)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

Cat Chaser is a 1989 American heist film directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Peter Weller and Kelly McGillis, based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. It was adapted from the novel by Leonard and James Borelli.

A three-hour raw cut of Cat Chaser was screened at Anthology Film Archives in New York City in the summer of 2014. Ferrara, Weller and others involved have expressed unhappiness with the released version, particularly with the added omniscient narration. (Weller refused to provide this narration, so producers Peter Davis and William Panzer hired actor Reni Santoni instead).[1]


George Moran is a former Marine and veteran of the Dominican Republic intervention who now runs a small beachfront motel in Miami. While searching for a Dominican woman named Luci Palma who saved his life in 1965 (and gave him the nickname "Cat Chaser"), he begins a relationship with Mary DeBoya, the wealthy, unhappy wife of a sadistic former Dominican general. Moran gets involved in a plot by fellow military veteran Nolen Tyner and a former New York policeman, Jiggs Scully, to rip off the general. Moran must elude a number of double-crosses as he and Mary attempt to gain her freedom plus $2 million of the general's money.



The film was shot in Old San Juan, Miami and Coral Gables, Florida, as the crew decided shooting on location in Santo Domingo would be too dangerous and costly after scouting there.[1]

Filming was not a happy experience for McGillis, who didn't make another major film afterwards for almost a decade. She said in 2001: "It was the most hateful experience of my life, and I said, if this is what acting is going to be, I will not do it. On the last day of shooting, I said to Abel 'Are you done with me?' He said, 'Yeah.' I walked in my trailer and shaved my head. I said 'Screw you, I never want to act again.'"[2][3]

In a 2015 oral history of the making of Cat Chaser, written by Sam Weisberg of Hidden Films, Peter Weller and various crew members acknowledged that Weller and McGillis openly clashed during filming; Weller maintained that he never found out the reason for it. Several crew members confirmed that McGillis stormed off the set after shooting a love scene with Weller, but they differed on the exact cause of her outburst.[1]

Abel Ferrara felt that the rape scene was too physical, so he wanted to have a body double shoot it. According to Ferrara, Kelly McGillis was very upset when she learned she wouldn't be shooting the scene. He said that McGillis accused him of replacing her because he didn't think she was beautiful enough. Eventually, McGillis and Ferrara worked out the scene in a way that she could film it herself. Ferrara claims that the actress essentially wrote the scene herself.[4]

Critical evaluation

The film received mixed reviews. It currently has a 40% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews, with a weighted average of 4.85/10.[5] Variety wrote: "Despite a fine cast and atmospheric direction by Abel Ferrara, the pic doesn't quite make the grade, though it certainly is worth a look."[6] Entertainment Weekly called the film "baroquely sleazy" and wrote that it failed to make sense.[7] The Roanoke Times described the film: "Despite some serious flaws, Cat Chaser is one of the better screen adaptations of an Elmore Leonard novel".[8] Weller was criticized for his "stiff performance" by Mick Martin and Marsha Porter in The Video Movie Guide 1995.[9]

Awards and nominations

Cat Chaser was nominated for the Best Film award at Mystfest in 1989.

Home video release

The film was released on VHS tape in the United States in 1991 by Vestron Video and the UK in 1994 by 4 Front and for the first time on DVD in 2003 by Lion's Gate/Artisan, and issued in the UK in 2004 by Arrow Films. The Lion's Gate DVD featured Weller and McGillis on the cover with the text "Passion. Greed. Murder. Tonight They Pay," with the story marketed as an erotic thriller.


  1. ^ a b c Weisberg, Sam (2015). "A Snake Pit Gig: The Making and Undoing of Abel Ferrara's 'Cat Chaser'". Hidden Films. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. ^ Hasted, Nick (2001) "Kelly McGillis: The star who threw herself to earth", The Independent, 29 March 2001
  3. ^ Davis, Steven Paul (2001) The A-Z of Cult Films and Film-makers, Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-8704-6
  4. ^ "What the Hell Happened to Kelly McGillis?". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Cat Chaser (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Cat Chaser", Variety, 1 January 1989
  7. ^ Burr, Ty (1996) "[Get Shorty]", Entertainment Weekly, 31 May 1996
  8. ^ "'CAT CHASER' PLAYS TRUE TO ITS SOURCE", Roanoke Times, 16 October 1991
  9. ^ Martin, Mick & Porter, Marsha (1994) Video Movie Guide 1995, Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-39196-4