P.S. Your Cat Is Dead

Best known as co-author of A Chorus Line, the late James Kirkwood was to the movies born—his father directed Mary Pickford; his mother, popular silent star Lila Lee, played opposite Valentino. P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, Kirkwood's 1972 comic novel about a straight man who traps a gay burglar in his house, was a literary hit that appeared onstage in 1975, and its belated movie adaptation marks the competent directorial debut of Steve Guttenberg, who also co-scripted and stars as failed actor Jimmy Zoole. Jimmy's one-man Hamlet stage project was a bust, his girlfriend has walked out on him, and his cat is ailing. On New Year's Eve, he returns home (in contemporary LA, where the setting has been shifted from Kirkwood's early-'70s Manhattan) to find his place being ransacked. His rage at boiling point, he knocks out the intruder and ties him to the kitchen counter. Overjoyed at the prospect of tormenting someone else for a change, he toys with the thief, a hunky gay Mexican (Lombardo Boyar), and plies him with cat food. They trade insults for a while, but the two men eventually bond through mutual confessions and tales of woe, and the movie ends on a note of odd coupling. Intermittently engaging and moving, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead has gathered a bit of dust over the years. Still, it's nicely acted by the small cast: Guttenberg, a rumpled mess, makes a convincingly frustrated hambone, and Boyar brings a bit of verve to the role of burglar in bondage. Shirley Knight, one of the most gifted actresses of the 1960s (The Group, The Rain People), is not so lucky—she's wasted in the one-dimensional role of Guttenberg's rich-bitch aunt. (Elliott Stein) (Edwards Island Cinemas, Tues., 6:30 p.m.)

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