Monthly Archives: April 2014

Fawlty Towers – “Basil the Rat”

Fawlty Towers DVD

Original Air Date: October 25, 1979
Starring: John Cleese, Connie Booth, Prunella Scales, Brian Hall
Directed by: Bob Spiers

Synopsis: Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) is at his usual wit’s end when a health inspector (John Quarmby) shows up and finds various infractions in the hotel which must be fixed.  Basil then learns that Manuel (Andrew Sachs) has been keeping a pet rat which inevitably gets loose, causing everyone to scramble to keep the rodent from being seen by the inspector.

Featured Feline: Puss is a black cat which likes to hang around the kitchen and is taken outside when he’s caught eating a piece of veal from a tray.  This ends up playing an important part in the comedic proceedings because Mr. Fawlty has poisoned one piece of veal to bait Basil the rat, only it gets mixed up with the untainted veal.

Fawlty Towers - Basil the Rat

They closely watch the health of Puss to determine which piece of veal may be safe to serve.

Fawlty Towers - Basil the Rat Puss

Final Mewsings: Cats really don’t belong in hotel kitchens, especially not as food testers.


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Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Snakes on a Plane DVD

New Line Cinema
Starring:
 Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Julianna Margulies
Directed by: David R. Ellis

Synopsis: Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses the killing of a prosecutor in Hawaii by mobster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) and is rescued from a hit by FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson.)  Under Federal protection, Flynn flies Jones back to Los Angeles to testify against Kim.  Little do they know that Kim’s men have had their plane rigged with countless poisonous snakes to ensure that Jones is never able to testify.

Kitty Cameo: In the cargo hold of the plane we see the authorities going through the area with their bomb sniffing dogs, one of which stops in front of an animal carrier holding a Siamese cat.  The cat hisses at the German Shepherd before they move on.

Snakes on a Plane

Kitty Carnage Warning! Sadly when a device explodes and releases the reptiles, the cat is the first victim of the dreaded snakes on a plane.

Final Mewsings: Even without deadly snakes, the cargo hold is not a fun place in which to travel.


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The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1956)

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone DVD

Seven Arts Productions
Starring:
 Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty, Lotte Lenya
Directed by: José Quintero

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

Synopsis: Karen Stone (Vivien Leigh) is an aging actress whose husband finances her plays.  On a trip to Rome he suffers a fatal heart attack and Mrs. Stone stays in Rome, trying to piece her life back together.  The Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales (Lotte Lenya), who acts as a madame to male gigolos in the city, has just the distraction for Mrs. Stone; a young man named Paolo di Leo (Warren Beatty).  But he ends up finding more than just Mrs. Stone’s money attractive.

Kitty Cameos: The Contessa has at least two cats in her lavishly decorated apartment / office.  One is an orange tabby which she is seen holding throughout much of her discussion with Paolo and the other is a black cat seen sitting on the back of the couch when she enters.

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone cat

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

Both cats are also seen in a later scene in which the Contessa speaks with Paolo over the phone (look closely and you can just see the black cat behind the wine glass on the table.)

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone cats

Final Mewsings: Even gaudy apartments are made stylish with the addition of cats.


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Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963)

Under the Yum Yum Tree artwork

Columbia Pictures
Starring:
 Jack Lemmon, Carol Lynley, Dean Jones, Edie Adams
Also starring: Orangey
Directed by: David Swift

Synopsis: Hogan (Jack Lemmon) is a lecherous landlord who likes to make the moves on the female tenants of his apartment building, mostly without objection since he is a charmer.  But when a forward thinking young college student named Robin Austin (Carol Lynley) moves in with her boyfriend Dave Manning (Deacon Jones) on a strictly plutonic experimental venture before marriage, Hogan becomes determined to weasel his way between them and seduce the fair lady no matter what.

Cinema Cat: This is another wonderful co-star turn for Orangey, whom we’ve spotlighted before in such films as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Gigot.  This time Orangey interferes repeatedly with Hogan’s attempts to spy on the young couple next door, first playing with the mirror Hogan is trying to use to look into their apartment and later causing Hogan to fall off the roof of the building.  Orangey also does an interesting trick of hanging on a low wall while drinking milk and his presence figures prominently in the film’s ending as well.

Under the Yum Yum Tree - Orangey and Jack Lemmon

Kitty Carnage Warning! There is one cringe-worthy moment when Hogan and the cat are on the roof and the stunt man playing Hogan grabs Orangey by the neck and swings him over the edge.  Ultimately Orangey hangs on and ends up on the roof while the stuntman takes the plunge.

Under the Yum Yum Tree - Orangey

Final Mewsings: Leave the prowling around buildings after dark to the cats!


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The Monkees – “Monkees Marooned”

The Monkees DVD

Original Air Date: October 30, 1967
Starring: Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith
Directed by: James Frawley

Synopsis: Peter trades his guitar for a map that supposedly leads to a buried treasure on an uninhabited island.  But when the boys arrive on the island they find an odd assortment of characters, including a ruthless treasure hunter (played by the show’s resident villain-portrayer Monte Landis) who decides to hunt Monkees instead!

Kitty Cameo: One of the people The Monkees meet is an aged actor who used to play an onscreen jungle man named Kimba (a great turn by actor Burt Mustin) until the movie studio abandoned him.  At one point Kimba suggests that he call his jungle friends to their aid and proceeds to let out a series of cough-filled, Tarzan-style yells which scares most of the animals away.  When the dust clears from their stampede, the Monkees are each holding an animal.  Peter has a chicken, Mike has a puppy, Micky a bunny and Davy is holding a black and white tuxedo cat.  This is quite fitting since Davy was a lover of cats off screen as well!

The Monkees - Monkees Marooned

Final Mewsings: Cats will come when called, but only by veteran character actors.


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