Monthly Archives: March 2014

I pugni in tasca (1965)

Fists in the Pocket DVD

English Title: Fists in the Pocket
Doria
Starring:
 Lou Castel, Marino Masé, Paola Pitagora, Liliana Gerace
Directed by: Marco Bellocchio

Synopsis: Augusto (Marino Masé) is the oldest brother in an Italian family which suffers from a variety of disabilities.  The mother (Liliana Gerace) is blind and needs constant care.  The second oldest brother, Alessandro (Lou Castel) suffers from epilepsy and has a love / hate relationship with their sister Giulia (Paola Pitagora.)  When Alessandro realizes his brother is ready to get married, he takes it upon himself to free him from his obligations by plotting to kill the rest of the family.

Kitty Cameo: When the family sits down to eat together in an early scene, a white cat jumps up on the table and helps itself to Mother’s food, since she is blind and doesn’t notice.  Augusto repeatedly takes the cat down off the table.

Fists in the Pocket

Later the cat appears again briefly in a scene in the attic with Alessandro and Giulia after a rather disturbing scene.

Fists in the Pocket

Final Mewsings: Even a cat couldn’t help this family.


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Cats Don’t Dance (1997)

Cats Don't Dance DVD

Warner Bros.
Starring:
 Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Ashley Peldon, Kathy Najimy
Directed by: Mark Dindal

Synopsis: Set in Hollywood of the 1930’s, Danny (voiced by Scott Bakula) is an aspiring song-and-dance cat from Kokomo who arrives on the scene with set plans of hitting it big in the movies.  He learns the hard way that there are firm boundaries about the limited role of animals in the industry, yet he is determined to overcome this narrow-minded structure to open the doors for animals to perform on screen.  His fellow actor friends are not as optimistic, including Sawyer (voiced by Jasmine Guy), a jaded and sharp-tongued aspiring singer / dancer turned secretary.

Cinema Cats: This is a sadly overlooked film which is a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of old Hollywood.  The story is a thinly-disguised allegory about the race discrimmination which has been so prevalent in Hollywood for so long.  Danny and Sawyer are the only cat characters in the movie but each is so delightful in their own way and the story is set around them.

Cats Don't Dance

There are lots of nods to classic Hollywood for film afficianados, including one of the best screen villains of the 90’s, Miss Darla Dimple (voiced by Ashley Peldon), a sick and twisted Shirley Temple-style actress, and her Erich von Stroheim-meets-Frankenstein sidekick Max (voiced by the film’s director, Mark Dindal.)

Cats Don't Dance dance number

Final Mewsings: How does the kitty cat go?


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The Third Man (1949)

The Third Man poster

London Film Productions
Starring:
 Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Alida Valli
Directed by: Carol Reed

Synopsis: A pulp fiction novelist named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives in post-World War II Vienna expecting to meet up with an old friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job.  Instead he learns his friend is dead and he quickly learns that Harry was a key figure in black market dealings and that he himself is caught up in the resulting intrigue, including getting to know Harry’s love interest, Anna (Alida Valli).  Twists and turns abound in this classic suspense film.

Cat Burglars (Scene Stealers): The cats in this movie steal every scene they are in, and the scenes in which they appear are pivotal and among the most notable in film history.  We say “they” because while the cat in these scenes are technically supposed to be the same cat (since we see the cat leave Anna’s apartment and then is on the street outside) it is painfully clear that they are actually three different cats, which makes it a bit confusing.  The one in the apartment which Holly tries to coax into playing with him looks barely older than a kitten.

The Third Man kitten 1

The one in the long shots scurrying down the street has somewhat similar markings to the one in the previous scene but appears to be older.  Note the white face, because . . .

The Third Man kitten 2

. . . when the cat turns the corner and stands at the shadow man’s feet he has a gray and white face!

The Third Man kitten 3

According to the DVD commentary by Steven Soderbergh and Tony Gilroy, the cat (or cats) in the street scene was very uncooperative and many feet of film were used to get the right shots.  The director even had to resort to putting sardine oil on the hidden man’s shoes to get the cat to cooperate.

Final Mewsings: Never mind who the third man is, the real mystery is how many different cats are there?


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Mister Ed – “The Horse and the Pussycat”

Mister Ed art

Original Air Date: October 31, 1965
Starring: Alan Young, Connie Hines, Hazel Shermet
Directed by: Ira Stewart, Alan Young

Synopsis: Carol (Connie Hines) promises to catsit for her friend Selma (Hazel Shermet) much to Wilbur’s (Alan Young) dismay.  But it’s Mister Ed who suffers from jealousy when Wilbur starts spending all of his time with the pedigree Siamese.

Featured Feline: The Siamese cat named Felicia in this episode is simply gorgeous and shares a lot of screen time with both Wilbur and Mister Ed.  The horse and cat seem to have real chemistry as they play off one another in various scenes.  The highlight is when Mister Ed challenges Felicia to a staring contest.

Mister Ed

Mister Ed uses several ruses to try to get rid of Felicia but in the end comes to accept her as a companion instead.

Mister Ed

Final Mewsings: Give a cat a chance and you’ll likely find a friend, not a rival.


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Pygmalion (1938)

Pygmalion artwork

Gabriel Pascal Productions
Starring:
 Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller, Wilfrid Lawson
Directed by: Anthony Asquith & Leslie Howard

Synopsis: A wonderful film version of George Bernard Shaw’s classic play (written for the screen by Shaw himself) tells the story of phoentics expert Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) and the Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) he bets he can turn into a lady through the teaching of dialect and proper etiquette.

Purr Blur: After her first meeting with Henry Higgins on the steps outside of the theater, Eliza takes a taxi home.  When she reaches her neighborhood, she walks through an alley where we see a black and white cat hurry on up the steps ahead of her and around the opposite corner.

Pygmalion

Final Mewsings: Cats speak with purrfect diction and don’t need coaching.


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