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Frank Willard's 1927 stage play The Cat and the Canary was filmed several times before this 1978 version saw the light of day. In the story, Annabelle West (Carol Lynley) is one of several potential heirs to a huge fortune. Brought to his foreboding mansion to learn who will benefit from his death, the anxious heirs must sit still for the deceased's taped recitation of his bequests. The dead man, Cyrus West (Wilfred Hyde-White), takes advantage of the occasion to scold his greedy and unpleasant relatives. He leaves behind several posthumous practical jokes which drive his points home. It's a rainy night, the mansion is full of surprises, most of the heirs are an anxious, unpleasant lot, and at least one of them is not above committing murder to have his way.