Featured Feline Friday bannerShamus (1973)

Shamus poster

Columbia Pictures Corporation
Starring:
 Burt Reynolds, Dyan Cannon
Co-starring:  Morris
Directed by: Buzz Kulik

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Private detective McCoy (Burt Reynolds) tries to solve the mystery behind the brutal murder of a diamond thief.

Featutred Feline: Morris the Cat hits the big screen in this film playing a tom cat named Cat who is a feral companion to McCoy. In an early scene, McCoy tells his latest love conquest that if a cat shows up to feed him. “I hate cats!” she says, then asks, “Well, how could you stand them?” “He just stands me,” McCoy explains. We don’t actually see Cat until well in the film when he is sitting on the edge of the bathtub in which McCoy is lying after being beaten up the night before.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds in bathtub with Cat Morris found by Springy

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds in bathtub with Cat Morris

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds in bathtub with Cat Morris

McCoy’s friend Springy (Larry Block) helps McCoy get dressed as Cat continues to sit on the bathtub.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds getting dressed with Springy Larry Block and Cat Morris on bathtub

In a later scene, McCoy sneaks into his apartment via the back way. He meets Cat sitting on the wall outside and stops to share a head butt with him.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris on wall

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris on wall

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds head butting with Cat Morris on wall

McCoy then picks up Cat and carries him up the fire escape to his apartment where he gets him something to eat.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds sneaking into apartment with Cat Morris

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds feeding Cat Morris

A woman named Alexis (Dyan Cannon) shows up at the apartment and comments on what a pretty cat Cat is.

Shamus - Alexis Dyan Cannon with Cat Morris

Sure enough, McCoy and Alexis start to kiss with Cat in between them. One of the many scenes of cats caught between kisses on film!

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris between them

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris between them

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris between them

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris between them

Cat is then seen under the pool table / bed as the couple lie on top together after what was presumably some love making.

Shamus - Cat Morris on floor beneath pool table

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris beneath

Cat is only seen again at the end of the film when McCoy comes home to find Alexis. Alexis has fed Cat, who is eating on the counter.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon with Cat Morris eating on counter

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon with Cat Morris eating on counter

Previously Morris the Cat made a name for himself as a commercial spokescat for Nine Lives cat food, winning a PATSY award for his commercial work (the award was accepted by Morris’ trainer Robert Martwick.) This was Morris’ big screen debut, as explained in his official biography by Mary Daniels in 1974.

cover of Morris the Cat biography by Mary Daniels

According to the bio, the film was shot in Brooklyn and Morris was brought on location for his role. Interestingly enough, it says his first scene entailed Morris approaching Reynolds after McCoy is beat up and licking the man’s face. Reynolds was then to move to the bathtub where he is found the next day. The memorable scene with Morris sitting beside Burt in the tub and being found there by Springy was not planned, but Morris performed so well the director went with it. The part leading up to this iconic scene appears to have been left on the cutting room floor.

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds in bathtub with Cat Morris publicity still

Reynolds was quoted as saying, “I found Morris to be the most unselfish actor I’ve ever worked with in terms of the camera, but when it came to love scenes he was awfully selfish, I felt, and concentrated on his own gratification. However, that alone would probably make him a star.”

Shamus - McCoy Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon on pool table with Cat Morris between them

Morris is often erroneously credited as having also appeared in The Long Goodbye, but the biography states that Morris turned the role down because he was worried about being typecast. We suspect cat actor Orangey appeared in the other film opposite Elliott Gould.

Morris the Cat publicity still

Final Mewsings: Real men give cats head butts.


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Kentucky Moonshine (1938)

Kentucky Moonshine poster

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring:
 The Ritz Brothers
Directed by: David Butler

Synopsis: A vaudeville act from New York (The Ritz Brothers) travels to the Ozarks and pose as hillbillies to get on the radio.

Purr Blurs: In one scene the boys are going to sneak into their apartment building to avoid the landlord, to whom they owe money. As they enter the alley behind the building, two cats can be seen; one on a garbage can and the other on a fence.

Kentucky Moonshine - cat on garbage can and cat on fence in back alley

The black cat on the garbage can jumps down and runs away when the boys approach.

Kentucky Moonshine - cat jumping down from garbage can and cat on fence in back alley

The cat on the fence remains as the Ritz Brothers start to climb up to a window.

Kentucky Moonshine - cat on fence in back alley with The Ritz Brothers

Kentucky Moonshine - cat on fence in back alley with The Ritz Brothers

Final Mewsings: Only 50% of all cats are scared of men breaking into apartment buildings.


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Love Stinks (1999)

Love Stinks poster

Baumgarten-Prophet Entertainment
Starring:
 French Stewart, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Directed by: Jeff Franklin

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Sitcom creator Seth Winnick (French Stewart) meets Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), the girl of his dreams, only her increasingly controlling behavior and desire to get married turn her into the girl of his nightmares.

Featured Feline: On the night they meet at a friend’s wedding, Seth and Chelsea go back to her place. After a short time he gets stuffy and asks, “You don’t have a cat, do you?” “Oh, not *a* cat, *the* cat of all cats!” Chelsea answers, then calls for her cat Gracie. The long-haired orange tabby jumps up on Seth’s lap even when he says he is deathly allergic.

Love Stinks - Seth French Stewart with longhaired ginger tabby Gracie on lap

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson holding longhaired ginger tabby Gracie

Later as their relationship grows, Seth is seen giving himself an allergy shot to build a tolerance for Gracie, who is outside the window with Chelsea.

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson holding longhaired ginger tabby Gracie outside window

While in a writer’s meeting one day, Chelsea bursts in and cries that Gracie is lost. She insists Seth come looking for her, even telling him he must call the cat in a certain way. When Gracie can’t be found, Chelsea suggests moving in with Seth since she doesn’t want to stay in the house without her cat. But shortly after Chelsea moves in she shows up at Seth’s house with Gracie. “It’s a miracle,” Seth says unenthusiastically.

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson happily holding longhaired ginger tabby Gracie

Gracie is next seen sitting on the kitchen counter as Chelsea talks her to friend Holly (Tyra Banks).

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson and Tyra Banks with longhaired ginger tabby Gracie on counter in background

When things get ugly between the couple, Chelsea threatens a lawsuit but refuses to move out of Seth’s house. Chelsea is seen sitting to the side in the kitchen as she tells Seth this news.

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie sitting on counter

When they go to bed, Chelsea makes a point of bringing Gracie with her and proceeds to brush Gracie’s fur right on Seth.

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson brushing longhaired ginger tabby Gracie in bed with Seth French Stewart

Gracie and Seth’s dog Elvis are present at the beginning of the scene in which Seth retaliates by bombarding Chelsea with nasty farts. Both the dog and cat beat a hasty retreat after the first blow.

Love Stinks - Chelsea Bridgette Wilson and Seth French Stewart in bed with longhaired ginger tabby Gracie and dog Elvis

The vicious tit-for-tat between the couple gets worse. Chelsea wakes up one morning to find a stuffed cat in front of a picture of Gracie with a note that reads, “Gracie sleeps with the fish under the pier.”

Love Stinks - stuffed cat toy with threatening note in front of photo of longhaired ginger tabby Gracie

Chelsea races to the pier and runs the long distance down to the end where Seth is holding her cat. Chelsea pleads for him to let her go but Seth just taunts her.

Love Stinks - Seth French Stewart holding longhaired ginger tabby Gracie at end of pier

Kitty Carnage Warning!  Seth finally turns and drops Gracie off the end of the pier. Chelsea jumps off the end of the pier after her. She calls for the cat and Seth reminds her that Gracie will only answered when called a certain way. As it turns out, Gracie is dangling from a cord just behind Chelsea. “Oh, didn’t Gracie tell you? She loves to bungee jump!” Seth calls down.

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie dangling over edge of pier

Later Chelsea gets back at Seth by bringing in numerous more cats, all of whom Seth finds sitting around the dinner table eating. Chelsea tells Seth that some of Gracie’s new friends knocked his collectible Elvis plates off the shelf. “I think they were bungee jumping,” she explains.

Love Stinks - cats eating at table

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie eating at table with other cats

Love Stinks - gray and white cat eating from bowl

The last time Gracie is seen is when she is lying on the bed with Chelsea when Seth comes in and chloroforms his ex. A Siamese cat can be seen on the bed behind Gracie.

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie and Siamese cat on bed in dark

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie and Siamese cat on bed in dark

The idea of having Seth be allergic to Chelsea’s cat was taken from Jeff Franklin’s life. The director explained on the DVD’s commentary track how he had to endure allergy shots when dating women with cats. Franklin actually had to shoot all the scenes with the cats from another room using a monitor to watch the action. It was also explained how the cat actor had to be tethered to the counter in the kitchen scenes, a common practice to keep cat actors in place and safe during shooting.

Love Stinks - Seth French Stewart holding longhaired ginger tabby Gracie at end of pier

This film received backlash about the treatment of Gracie the cat upon its release and triggered some debate about the use of animals in slapstick comedy, much the same way the treatment of the dog in There’s Something About Mary caused concern. The American Humane Association monitored the film and maintained no animals were hurt during the making of the film. In the commentary track for the DVD, director Jeff Franklin explained that at no time was the cat in danger or actually thrown off or dangled from the pier. A $4000 stuffed cat was used for the shots where the animal is seen dangling above the water. The close up shots of the cat actor in the harness were shot at a completely different time with the cat in a comfortable harness being suspended only a small height by a fishing pole.

Love Stinks - fake longhaired ginger tabby Gracie dangling over water at end of pier

The American Humane Society explains on their website that their primary concern is that the animal actors are treated safely and come to no harm on the sets of movies, not necessarily the context of the treatment of animals in the film itself. Many reviews of the film cited “cat torture” as being just one of the many unfunny things about the movie. Actually the term “cat torture” is a bit of a stretch, since at no time is the cat actor or the cat character shown in any serious distress. There have been many worse examples of true cat torture in film, both real and in the course of the story. However, anyone who doesn’t like to see animals as the butt of slapstick jokes, which is a fair opinion, should probably steer clear of this one.

Love Stinks - longhaired ginger tabby Gracie dangling off pier closer

Final Mewsings: Cats should not be used to get back at people.


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The Haunting of Hill House – “Open Casket”

The Haunting of Hill House poster

Original Air Date: October 12, 2018
Starring: Lulu Wilson, Carla Gugino
Directed by: Mike Flanagan

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains spoilers for this episode!

Synopsis: Facing a family tragedy, Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) reflects on her first encounter with death.

Kitty Cameos: In a flashback sequence we see Shirley as a girl (Lulu Wilson) as she discovers a litter of newborn kittens in a shed. She is startled when she takes a flash Polaroid picture of the kittens and sees what appears to be a face behind them.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - newborn kittens on burlap sack in shed

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - newborn kittens on burlap sack in shed with scary face behind

The face turns out to be an old wasps nest. Shirley asks her father if she can take the kittens into the house. Once inside, she shows the younger kids how to feed the kittens milk with an eyedropper.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - Shirley Lulu Wilson feeding kitten with eyedropper

Kitty Carnage Warning!  After this things take a dark turn and anyone sensitive to horror involving kittens should probably stop reading. Shirley wakes up to find that one of the kittens has died.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - dead newborn kitten in box with other kittens

With her father and mother beside her, Shirley prepares to bury the kitten. As she is saying a eulogy for the kitten, whom she had named Jasper, she notices its throat and mouth are moving. Shirley clutches the tiny kitten only to be terrified when a beetle crawls out of its mouth.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - dead newborn kitten in box

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - dead newborn kitten in hands

Later in the episode Shirley and Theo (Mckenna Grace) check on the kittens only to find them all dead but one. Shirley picks up the tiny thing only to have it open its eyes to reveal white, fogged over eyeballs.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - dead newborn kittens in box

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - newborn kitten in hands with eyes closed

If it’s any consolation at all, all of the kittens in the episode appear to have been created with a combination of puppetry and CGI. No real kittens were probably used for filming.

The Haunting of Hill House - Open Casket - newborn kitten with white milky eyeballs

Final Mewsings: We knew milk is not good for cats but who knew it was this bad?


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Noon (2017)

Directed by: Cindy Yang

Synopsis: Life at noon is seen being experienced by several different people.

Cartoon Cat: One of the people is a young woman who is seen sleeping. Beside her is a gray cat who is sharing her nap time.

Noon - grey cat sleeping on pillow beside sleeping girl

Noon - grey cat walking beside sleeping girl

Noon - grey cat curled up beside sleeping girl

Noon - grey cat sleeping on back

Final Mewsings: Cats are usually cool with nap time.


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