Monthly Archives: July 2014

Muriel’s Wedding (1994)

Muriel's Wedding DVD

Miramax Films
 Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter
Directed by: P.J. Hogan

Synopsis: This dark comedy from Australia is the story of Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette), a young woman struggling to find acceptance amongst her peers, her family, and most importantly with herself.  Muriel’s life changes when she moves to Sydney with her friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths) but a series of events and the eventual realization of her dream wedding leads her to realize that her desire to change may have taken her down the wrong path.

Purr Blur: When we first see Muriel’s home her little sister is walking down the hallway toward the kitchen to tell their mother that their father wants a cup of tea.  A cat can be seen sitting in the hallway.  Sadly the cat is not seen again in any scenes at Muriel’s house.

Muriel's Wedding cat

Final Mewsings: Apparently Muriel wasn’t the only one who successfully escaped from home.

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The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix DVD

Warner Bros.
 Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
Directed by: The Wachowski Brothers

Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains a slight spoiler for this movie.

Synopsis: The game-changing sci fi classic from The Wachowski Brothers.  Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a computer hacker who is drawn into a dangerous and mysterious world.  Little does he know the extent of the reality that awaits him.

Kitty Cameo: At one point Neo and the rebels, including Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), are on a mission.  As they walk up the staircase in a dilapidated building Neo happens to see a black cat walk by a doorway.  A moment later the same black cat walks past the same doorway in the exact same way.  Neo comments that he’s just experienced deja vu, which tips the team off that they are inside the Matrix.

The Matrix Cat

Final Mewsings: Cats can give us clues about what’s happening around us, if we only pay attention.

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Bachelor Father – “The Richest Cat”

Bachelor Father

Original Air Date: April 3, 1962
Starring: John Forsythe, Noreen Corcoran, Sammee Tong, Del Moore
Directed by: Earl Bellamy

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

Synopsis: Bentley Gregg (John Forsythe), his daughter Kelly (Noreen Corcoran) and their house servant Peter Tong (Sammee Tong) find that a mother cat has strayed into their basement during a storm and given birth to a litter of kittens.  When their neighbor Cal (Del Moore) finds out about the cats after reading about a missing expecting cat worth a million dollars in the newspaper, he tricks Bentley into giving him the cats, setting off a battle of possession between the two.

Featured Feline: They call the cat in question Sally because that is the name of the missing cat as reported in the newspaper.  Sally is an absolutely gorgeous black and white cat, part Angora with beautiful markings and a wonderful personality.

Bachelor Father - The Richest Cat with kittens

She (or maybe he, since it’s unlikely the cat playing Sally actually gave birth to the kittens as many of them appear to be tabbies) is playful in her scenes, interacting with the actors and even padding her part by reaching up into a scene for more food or for attention.  The end scene when she swipes at the Gregg’s dog, Jasper, is particularly well done.  A running joke throughout the show is Peter Tong telling Bentley an old Chinese proverb which says, “You don’t pick cat, cat picks you!”

Bachelor Father - The Richest Cat Susie returns

Cat Burglars (Scene Stealers): And then there are Sally’s kittens, which are too cute for words and steal every scene they are in, especially when they are mewing.

Bachelor Father - The Richest Cat kittens

Final Mewsings: Anyone who is picked by a cat like this would be rich indeed!

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Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Theodora Goes Wild DVD

Columbia Pictures
 Irene Dunne, Melvyn Douglas, Elisabeth Risdon, Margaret McWade
Directed by: Richard Boleslawski

Synopsis: Some of the residents of the small town of Lynnfield are shocked when their local newspaper starts printing the excerpts from a racy new bestseller by a woman named Caroline Adams, little realizing that the name is merely a pseudonym and the author is Theodora Lynn (Irene Dunne), one of their hometown girls.  On a trip to see her New York publisher she meets Michael Grant (Melvyn Douglas) who manages to uncover the secret of her true identity and shows up in Lynnfield to stir up the locals and “free” Theodora from her conservative surroundings.

Featured Feline: Theodora lives with her two spinster aunts, Mary (Elisabeth Risdon) and Elsie (Margaret McWade).  Throughout the film Elsie is seen with a black cat, often carrying it around with her.  When Michael Grant unexpectedly shows up he brings along a stray dog, which causes some consternation with Elsie regarding the cat.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat

Kitty Cameos: Later, as Theodora’s life begins to take on a scandalous color, we see fast cuts between shots of the judgmental women of Lynnfield talking on the phone intercut with close-up shots of cats, apparently to represent the catty nature of the gossip going on.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat close

Theodora Goes Wild white cat close

Theodora Goes Wild tabby cat close

Kitty Carnage Warning! One scene in this film really ruins the rest and that is when Theodora and her Aunts are driven to near madness by Michael’s constant whistling.  They become so frustrated that Aunt Mary slams a door, shattering its glass.  A moment later Elsie also slams a door shut, but her cat is standing with its tail just inside the doorway and she literally slams the door right on its tail, causing it to scream and struggle.  This is only painful to watch and not remotely funny.  And we honestly can’t see any way that this shot could have been faked.  It’s true there is a cut between Elsie slamming the door and the close up of the cat below, so the door may not have been shut as hard as it appears, but regardless the cat’s tail is definitely pinched in the door (close up to its hind quarters!) and it is in pain.  A poster on IMDb’s discussion board explains that the animal wrangler on the film was “Bert Sprott,” who apparently caused injury and death to many animals in films over his career.  This information we cannot substantiate but regardless of whether or not the scene was somehow shot humanely (with a flexible door or with the cat’s tail somehow held beneath) this movie ends up with a black mark that cannot be erased.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat

Final Mewsings: A cat in pain is not funny!

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Believe It or Not (1932)

Vitaphone Corporation
Robert L. Ripley

Synopsis: This was episode 4 of the second series of Believe It or Not short films released to theaters.  In this episode, little Billy (Billy Hayes) is scolded by his mother for reading a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book instead of doing his homework.  He falls asleep and dreams that Mr. Ripley escorts him through a giant book of his strange finds.

Poor Kitty: The last segment in this episode is about a cat named Thomasina who is said to smoke three cigarettes a day.  Ripley explains that she had been born in a dog kennel in New York and picked up the habit from the customers.  The poor thing is seen laying on her back on a pillow in the lap of her owner, Serge Detouloff, who literally is physically holding the cat’s paws down (as well as her head, at first) while she “smokes.”

Ripley's Believe It or Not - Thomasina the smoking cat

Needless to say poor Thomasina looks anything but relaxed and comfortable during this, so it’s pretty clear the cat doesn’t even really tolerate having the cigarette in her mouth, let alone enjoy smoking it.  At least Thomasina appears wise enough not to inhale.

Ripley's Believe It or Not - smoking cat

Final Mewsings: Humans shouldn’t force their disgusting habits on animals!

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