Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Little Hero (1913)

Keystone Film Company
 Mabel Normand
Also Starring: Pepper
Directed by: Mack Sennett

Synopsis: Mabel (Mabel Normand) leaves her pet canary and cat at home and her dog on the front step to watch.  The dog hears the cat trying to get at the canary and races off to enlist the aid of some canine friends to save the bird.

Cinema Cat: Sadly this starring role for the first cat star of cinema, Pepper, also happens to be a piece of dog propaganda as the dog “hero” (who isn’t even brave enough to take on a small cat by himself) needs to enlist the aid of three larger collies to put an end to the feline’s intent.

A Little Hero Pepper cat with Mabel Normand

Pepper has real star power, which is probably why Mack Sennett was quick to engage her as an animal actor when the feline reportedly made her way onto a film set and impressed everyone with her impromptu performance.

A Little Hero Pepper cat star

This was Pepper’s first credited role but she made many other films for the Sennett Studios alongside canine co-star Teddy (who does not, as some people report, appear in this particular short.)

A Little Hero Pepper cat star after bird

You can view this film by clicking here.

Final Mewsings: Dogs ganging up on cats are not being heroic!

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The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Incredible Shrinking Man DVD

Universal International Pictures (UI)
 Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, William Schallert, Paul Langton
Also starring: Orangey
Directed by: Jack Arnold

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

Synopsis: Based on Richard Matheson’s novel (with a screenplay by Matheson himself.)  Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is out for a boat ride with his wife Louise (Randy Stuart) when he is exposed to a strange cloud filled with radioactive materials.  Later he is accidentally sprayed with pesticides and from then on he notices that he seems to be growing smaller.  Doctors scramble to find both the cause and the cure, but will they be able to stop Scott from shrinking in time?

Cinema Cat: Butch (played by screen veteran Orangey, an orange tabby) has a prominent role in the film as the Carey’s pet cat.

Incredible Shrinking Man cat Orangey as Butch

We see him interacting with both Scott and Louise throughout the film, up until the moment when Scott is surprised by an unexpected visit to the doll house where he is residing within the Carey’s home . . . Butch has managed to sneak back into the house before Louise goes out and becomes a very real threat to the miniscule Scott.

Incredible Shrinking Man cat Orangey as Butch at dollhouse door

This is truly one of the most memorable and iconic cat moments in film, especially in the science fiction / horror movie genre!

Incredible Shrinking Man cat Orangey as Butch basement door

Final Mewsings: When a cat comes calling at your dollhouse, don’t open the door!

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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey DVD

Walt Disney Pictures
 Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Don Ameche, Robert Hays
Also Starring: Tiki, Rattler, Ben
Directed by: Duwayne Dunham

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

Synopsis: A Disney remake of their 1963 film The Incredible Journey.  Chance is a young American Bulldog (played by Rattler and voiced by Michael J. Fox) who has been adopted by the Seaver family.  The family’s other pets are Shadow, an aging Golden Retriever (played by Ben and voiced by Don Ameche) and Sassy, a sarcastic Himalayan (played by Tiki and voiced by Sally Field.)  Sent to stay at a ranch while the family is on vacation, the animals become concerned and set out for their home on the other side of the Rockies.

Cinema Cat: This is the debut starring role for Tiki, the cat actress who would go on to play Salty on the comedy series Caroline in the City (although, as with most movies, several cats shared the role.)  Tiki shines in this role, doing an admirable job of running to keep up with the much-larger dogs and holding her own on screen.  Tiki also opens a door to release Shadow from an enclosure at an animal shelter (she had many tricks which she could perform on cue.)  Having human voices playing the animal parts (even though this was before CGI made the process of moving their mouths practical for an entire film) is a bit strange, but the animals’ personalities are the true stars and the actors do a good job of creating the humanized personas.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey cat Sassy

Kitty Carnage Warning! The most harrowing moment in the film is when Sassy is caught in a rapidly flowing river and is swept downstream and over a waterfall.  The animals were closely monitored in this film and presumably no harm came to any of them during filming, but it could be a difficult scene for some to watch.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey cat Sassy played by Tiki

Final Mewsings: When you’re surrounded by dogs you almost have to be sassy.

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Black Cats and Broomsticks (1955)

RKO Pathé Pictures
Narrated by
 Peter Roberts
Directed by: Larry O’Reilly

Synopsis: This short subject takes a look at various superstitions through a somewhat cynical eye, questioning our continued belief in various fortune telling methods and means to ward off bad luck.

Purr Blur As the title would suggest, the superstition of a black cat crossing your path being bad luck is included, showing a man walking down the street as a black cat crosses the sidewalk in front of him.  The broomsticks, meanwhile, are not even mentioned.

Black Cats and Broomsticks cat

Final Mewsings: This is one superstition we can do without!

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I Married a Witch (1942)

I Married a Witch DVD

Paramount Pictures
 Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley
Directed by: René Clair

Synopsis: Two witches, a father and daughter burned in the 17th century by a member of the Wooley family, return in the 20th century and seek out the man’s descendent, a politician named Wallace Wooley.  The daughter, Jennifer, takes on the form of a beautiful woman (Veronica Lake) and sets out to make Wallace fall in love with her.  Things backfire and Jennifer falls for Wallace instead while her father (Cecil Kellaway) sets out for revenge anew.

Kitty Cameo: After saving Jennifer from a fire, Wallace returns to his home with his fiancé.  Stepping out of the cab he stands in front of his house where we see a black cat with white markings meowing at his front door.

I Married a Witch cat Susie at door

Wallace goes to the door and scolds the cat, whose name is Susie, that she knows she can’t come in.

I Married a Witch cat letting Susie in door

Once the door is open Susie hurries inside and runs to another room, jumping into a chair.  Wallace follows and finds Jennifer sitting in the chair, petting the cat.

I Married a Witch cat Susie with Veronica Lake

Final Mewsings: Like men, cats are attracted to Veronica Lake.

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