Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Starring: Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento
Directed by: Carol Reed
Synopsis: The sweeping cinematic story of the challenges faced by Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the insistence of Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison).
Purr Blur: Shortly after Michaelangelo begins his work on the Sistine Chapel he is seen walking down the street to a drinking establishment. On the way there are several kittens and cats running around on the dark passageways.
Final Mewsings: In Italy, all roads lead to cats.
Starring: Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Henry Daniell
Directed by: Robert Siodmak
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains spoilers for this film!
Synopsis: Philip Marshall (Charles Laughton) is an unhappily married shopkeeper in 1902 London who meets a charming young woman named Mary (Ella Raines) and strikes up a friendship with her. He longs for more but is refused a divorce by his domineering wife (Rosalind Ivan) and eventually resorts to the unthinkable to keep Mary safe.
Cat Burglar (Scene Stealer): The fuzzy white kitten which appears in this film doesn’t show up until later (after Philip’s wife Cora is out of the picture) but when he does he steals every scene. We first see the kitten when Philip is packing a bag and finds the kitten hiding inside.
The kitten is present during one of the more suspenseful moments of the film when a neighbor, the drunken, wife-beater Mr. Simmons (Henry Daniell), threatens to blackmail Philip. Philip decides to poison the man and prepares a toxic drink while Mr. Simmons is playing with the kitten, dangling his keys for the cat to play with.
Right after disposing of Mr. Simmons, Philip’s wife, son and others come home unexpectedly and he’s forced to hide the body under a sofa.
Philip’s son and his girlfriend sit on the sofa and the girl cries out that something grabbed her leg. Philip’s son reaches under the sofa and there is a moment of suspense before he pulls out the kitten. Sadly the kitten is not seen in the film again after this.
What’s interesting is the fact that at least three publicity photos were taken of Charles Laughton with the kitten to help promote the film. None of the scenarios depicted actually happened in the movie itself, but the shots of Laughton holding a mirror and a fan in front of the kitten and then using a tassel to play with him are simply adorable.
Final Mewsings: It’s suspicious that the kitten disappears, since he was the only witness to the murder of Mr. Simmons.
Original Air Date: December 22, 1957
Starring: Dorothy Stickney, Harry Tyler, Raymond Bailey
Directed by: Justus Addiss
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains some spoilers for this episode!
Synopsis: Miss Paisley (Dorothy Stickney) is a lonely older woman who is surprised when an orange tabby cat wanders in through her window one day. She comes to love the cat, but her downstairs neighbor, a tough-handed bookie, makes it known he hates the cat. So when Stanley is murdered, Miss Paisley finds herself thinking of revenge.
Featured Feline: The orange tabby cat named Stanley steals the show in his scenes. Looking like a rough and tumble alley cat, Stanley has an irresistable onscreen charm, making it very believable that Miss Paisley would take him in and care for him. She is very afraid her downstairs neighbor will do something dreadful to her cat.
Unfortunately Miss Paisley’s concerns for Stanley are well-founded. It’s just a shame that Stanley only lasts through half of the episode.
Final Mewsings: Don’t mess with a lonely woman’s cat!
Starring: Paul McCartney, Windsor Davies, June Whitfield
Directed by: Geoff Dunbar
Synopsis: The beloved childen’s comic strip character Rupert Bear comes to life in this colorful and musical short film produced and scored by Paul McCartney. Rupert goes exploring and follows some frogs as they make their way to a secret location for a very special event.
Bad Kitties: Following Rupert and the frogs are a trio of unsavory looking characters, an evil-looking barn owl and his two slinking black cat sidekicks. While it’s never fully explained what these baddies actually want, the menacing way in which they’re animated makes it clear it is not good for the frog King and Queen.
The black cats also provide a moment of comic relief when they get so caught up in the frog song they start to sing along, prompting a stern “Shhhh!” from the owl.
Final Mewsings: Cats may be evil sidekicks but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate good music.
Commentator: George Barclay
Producer and Photographer: Emily Benton Frith
Synopsis: The story of Fluffy and Tommy and their litter of newborn kittens, as well as Fluffy’s sister Muffy’s older litter with her mate Calico. It’s like Peyton Place with cats (except nothing really happens).
Reality Star Cats This short educational film is a quaint little look into the lives of these two cat families and the human children who play with them.
There are some questionable parts, however. One scene shows a boy handling one of Fluffy’s “newborn” kittens even when the narrator states young kittens should not be handled.
More disturbing is the fact that the filmmakers have the box of baby kittens outside in the hot sun. The narrator even remarks on how the kittens don’t like the intense heat as they are seen scrambling to try to get out of the box. Fluffy comes to take them all to the shade, but it would have been better to show some care in featuring the kittens in the first place.
Despite these setbacks, overall the film is an interesting vintage look into the life of cats.
Final Mewsings: You don’t leave kittens in the hot sun because you don’t know how to film dark scenes.