Walt Disney Productions
Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains some spoilers for this film!
Synopsis: Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury) is an apprentice witch who takes in three children during World War II, only to have the war threaten the small town where she lives.
Featured Feline: When the children arrive at Miss Price’s home they are startled by a very unruly looking black cat. Actually they pass the cat at first, which is clearly a stuffed cat substituting for the real one for this particular shot.
The rough-looking black cat hisses at the children, making them jump. Earlier in the film it was revealed the cat was sent to Miss Price by a man named Emelius Browne. The girl, Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan) asks Miss Price what she calls her cat and Miss Price explains that she doesn’t believe in giving animals ridiculous names. “I call him Cosmic Creepers because that’s the name he came with.”
Cosmic Creepers is seen several times during the film, usually looking startled at something that is happening, such as when Miss Price first learns how to ride a broomstick.
The children see her riding the broom and the oldest boy, Charlie (Ian Weighill) gets the idea to blackmail Miss Price. Miss Price warns Charlie to be careful and then turns him into a rabbit, which excites Cosmic Creepers.
The cat chases Charlie upstairs and corners him by a door. Fortunately Miss Price’s spells don’t last long since she is only an apprentice witch and Charlie turns back into a boy and angrily goes after the cat, who runs away.
Cosmic Creepers comes in again as Miss Price is preparing a trip to see Emilius Browne with Carrie and the youngest boy, Paul (Roy Snart). Charlie has decided not to go along, that is until the cat jumps up on the dresser beside him and hisses. Then Charlie jumps onto the bed just as it takes off.
Cosmic Creepers is next seen sunning in the place where the bed used to be when it suddenly returns, sending the cat scrambling.
The cat reacts with surprise during a musical sequence in which various articles of clothing come to life.
One evening Emilius makes sausages for dinner and no one wants them. He ends up giving one to Cosmic Creepers, who takes it happily.
However Emilius tries to impress everyone with his juggling and accidentally steps on the cat’s tail, causing the cat to screech and run away.
Late in the film Miss Price is putting Cosmic Creepers out for the night when she spots some German soldiers looking over her wall. As the battle with the invading Germans begins, Emilius accidentally startles Cosmic Creepers, who meows angrily. The more Emilius tries to quiet the cat, the noisier Cosmic Creepers gets. In the struggle between them a vase is knocked off the mantle.
When the Germans come to investigate the noises, they see Cosmic Creepers sitting by the broken vase and assume that is all they heard.
At the end of the film Cosmic Creepers is sitting in the window as Emilius marches off to war with an elderly group of soldiers.
The appearance of Cosmis Creepers throughout the film is memorable. As one review of the film from the Orlando Evening Star stated, “Casting is perfect. Cosmic is a mangy, ear-chewed bad tempered feline, with the brightest eyes and the nastiest disposition which is displays at all times. Cosmic has the attitude humans are stupid but have to be endured.”
It would appear that the cat actor(s) underwent some specific grooming to make them seem ragged and unkempt, with bits of fur shaved in places and other parts matted and styled to look ratty. One ear is bent, but it’s not clear if this was natural or some kind of attachment. One thing is certain; the feline thespian(s) deserve some kind of award for giving some of the best cat reaction shots ever captured on film.
Several drawings of black cats are also present in the opening credits.
Final Mewsings: Some cat actors go all out for their roles!