Monthly Archives: December 2014

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One DVD

Warner Bros.
 Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Imelda Staunton
Directed by: David Yates

Synopsis: The beginning of the final battle between Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) followers and the rest of the wizarding world culminates with the complete subversion of the Ministry of Magic and a smear campaign against Harry Potter (Danielle Radcliffe), forcing him and his friends to go on the run as they try to locate the remaining Horcruxes.

Kitty Cameos: When Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) sneak into the Ministry of Magic disguised as other wizards using Polyjuice Potion, Harry makes his way to Dolores Umbridge’s (Imelda Staunton) office in search of the necklace they know to be a Horcrux.  On the walls are kitten plates like the ones she had in her office at Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One - kitten plates in Umbridge's office

Not finding the necklace in her office, Harry and Ron go down to the inquisition room where Hermione is already with Umbridge as she interrogates a woman.  During the mock trial Umbridge has her Patronus sitting on the bench beside her, which is a cat.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One - Umbridge's cat patronus

Final Mewsings: Sometimes cats don’t get to choose who loves them.

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Doctor in the House (1954)

Doctor in the House DVD

J. Arthur Rank Organisation
 Dirk Bogarde, Muriel Pavlow, Kenneth More
Directed by: Ralph Thomas

Synopsis: The trials and travails of Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde), a medical student who fulfills his residency at a London hospital with a group of rambunctious fellow students who keep his life interesting.

Purr Blurs: On Christmas Eve, Simon is placed on maternity call.  In the middle of the night he gets a call and has to ride to the home on the hospital’s bicycle, which he is warned is temperamental at best.  Sure enough he is riding through an alley when he loses control of the bike and crashes into some garbage cans.  A black and white cat is sitting on top of one of the cans and watches warily the impending crash.

Doctor in the House - cat in alley before bike crash

When the bike hits the cat leaps into the air and runs off down the snowy alley.

Doctor in the House - cat in alley after bike crash

After Simon has successfully performed the birth he leaves the home in the morning.  A black cat is sitting outside of the house in the snow and scurries away when Simon exits.

Doctor in the House - cat sitting outside home in snow

Final Mewsings: Cat – 1, Bicycle – 0.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation DVD

Warner Bros.
 Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki
Directed by: Jeremiah Chechik

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

Synopsis: Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is looking forward to an old-fashioned family Christmas with his loved ones and their extended families.  But everything that can go wrong does go wrong and the sudden appearance of Cousin Eddie and his family makes things even more crazy for the already overwraught Griswolds.

Kitty Carnage Warning! We have to jump right to the carnage warning since the only reason for the white long-haired Angora’s presence in this film is to have kitty fry when it chews on the Christmas tree lights, which Clark plugs back in unknowingly.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Angora cat near tree

According to the DVD commentary, an animal is killed in all of the vacation movies, and this joke was nearly cut from the film because the studio was concerned it was in such bad taste.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Angora cat chewing on lights

But it tested as one of the biggest laugh-getters in the whole movie and as such stayed in the final cut.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Angora cat gone poof

Final Mewsings: Needless to say that poor kitty was in for one helluva shock at Christmas!

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Our Miss Brooks – “The Magic Tree”

Our Miss Brooks

Original Air Date: December 25, 1953
Starring: Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Jane Morgan
Also Starring: Orangey
Directed by: Al Lewis

Synopsis: Schoolteacher Connie Brooks (Eve Arden) finds herself alone with Minerva the cat (Orangey) on Christmas Eve until a little boy sells her a magic Christmas tree and everyone suddenly shows up to visit, bearing gifts and some surprising behaviour.

Cinema Cat: Minerva, Mrs. Davis’ pet orange tabby cat, was a staple of this series back when it was a radio show and Minerva was a human voice saying “Meow!” in the most hilarious way.  Minerva was played in the television series by cat actor Orangey (who gained fame playing Rhubarb two years earlier in the film of the same name).  Oddly enough, in the television series Minerva’s meows are still provided by a human voice when a particular bit of comedic cat reaction is needed.

Our Miss Brooks, The Magic Tree - cat Minerva under tree

Minerva has a notable part in this episode when she keeps poking around the base of Connie’s sad-looking Christmas tree, nibbling on the pine needles.  Connie and Mrs. Davis speculate in so many words that the needle sap must be like alcohol to the cat, which seems to bear out later when Minerva is caught hiccuping.

Our Miss Brooks, The Magic Tree - cat Minerva eating pine needles

When Mrs. Davis leaves, Miss Brooks is left alone with Minerva and picks her up several times to sit on her lap in the rocking chair.  The highlight of the episode is when Miss Brooks sings a carol while rocking with Minerva which goes something like this:

Minerva is present through much of the episode, usually seen sitting beneath the Christmas tree nibbling on the pine needles (or whatever treat Orangey’s trainer, Frank Inn, put beneath the tree to entice him to stay there.)

Our Miss Brooks, The Magic Tree - cat Minerva rocking with Miss Brooks

Eve Arden does an admirable job of holding Orangey throughout several scenes, stroking him to keep him settled on her lap even when he gets fidgety.

Our Miss Brooks, The Magic Tree - Miss Brooks wakes up to find cat Minerva in her arms

Final Mewsings: Now we know why cats can’t resist Christmas trees!

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The Night Before Christmas (1941)

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas poster

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Directed by:
 Joseph Barbera, William Hanna

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

Synopsis: The most famous cat and mouse animated duo in film history, Tom and Jerry, star in this heartwarming Christmas tale in which Tom shows mercy on Jerry after shutting him out of the house in a snowstorm.

Cinema Cat: There’s little doubt the impact that Tom and Jerry had on the world of animation with their introduction and the classic tit-for-tat style chase scenes they embarked upon in their comedy films.  This entry delves a little bit into pathos as well but starts out with the typical cat-and-mouse shenanigans with Tom chasing Jerry around the Christmas tree.

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas cat

At one point Jerry slaps a “Do Not Open Till X-Mas” sticker over Tom’s mouth!

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - cat do not open till xmas

The sentimentality in this particular short is unusual for these films, although it may have helped lead to the short being nominated for an Academy Award that year.

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - Tom cat befuddled

Who would have thought that Tom would ever kiss Jerry (even though it’s because Jerry is holding mistletoe)?

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - Tom cat kisses Jerry mouse under mistletoe

Eventually Tom succeeds in chasing Jerry out of the house but a snowstorm is raging outside and Tom begins to feel guilty.

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - Tom cat feels guilty

Finding Jerry frozen in the snow, Tom quickly tries to defrost him over the fire.

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - Tom cat defrosts Jerry mouse

In the end Tom gives Jerry a peppermint stick.  In return Jerry disables the booby trap he has set up for Tom.

Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas - Tom cat gives Jerry mouse candy cane

Final Mewsings: At Christmastime even old enemies can put their differences aside.

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