Vera (Angela Lansbury) is a newlywed, returning home with her husband Stanley (George Montgomery) following their honeymoon.
They share a beautiful home, situated on a lake. It should be an ideal place to start their lives together. But Vera finds herself restless and skittish.
This is thanks to the lingering memory of Stanley’s first wife, Julie, who lived in the house… and whose Siamese cat Claire seems to have it out for Vera.
Originally airing on Screen Directors Playhouse on April 25, 1956, Claire was directed by Frank Tuttle. The screenplay was written by Philip MacDonald and George Sinclair from a story by Ruth Capps.
Claire seems somewhat Rebecca-inspired in that Lansbury’s character of Vera feels the intense presence of her new husband’s previous wife, who passed away.
Vera has a secret which differentiates her from the second Mrs. de Winter, her paranoia being much more personal than in Rebecca, since she knew Julie well and was present when she died.
George Montgomery’s Stan is also nothing like Max de Winter! He seems pretty nonchalant, more annoyed by Vera’s preoccupation with Julie than anything.
The episode also has a hint of a creature feature aspect, with Claire the cat, who seems to either be possessed or communicating with Julie’s spirit, scheming to ruin Vera’s life and marriage.
Running at less than half an hour, Claire is a small tale but a well-executed one. While I watched it hoping for more creature feature cheese, it’s a very fun mini-mystery, and the ending adds a whole new layer to the story.