Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943)

Warner Bros.
 Mel Blanc, The Four Dreamers
Directed by: Bob Clampett

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

Synopsis: One of the infamous “Censored 11” animated shorts banned from television and distribution mostly because of severely inappropriate stereotyping.  A cat caricature of Fats Waller visits the Kit-Kat Club and the music literally sends him out of this world.

Cartoon Cats: Yes, this cartoon absolutely contains outrageously outdated stereotypes (as well as some major World War II personas) but the caricatures do happen to be of cats.  The Fats Waller character (we shall call him Cats Waller) heads for the Kit-Kat Club which happens to be located right next to the Uncle Tomcat Mission.  A group of singers stand outside the mission and stop Cats, as one member warns him about the sins to be found within.  As one would guess, that makes Cats even more excited to enter!

Tin Pan Alley Cats - Cats Waller is warned by missionary singer

Inside Cats gets down with the swinging cat musicians, including a trumpet playing cat which is a caricature of Louis Armstrong.

Tin Pan Alley Cats - Louis Armstrong cat caricature

The musicians promise to send Cats out of this world and proceed to do just that . . . blow him right out of this world!  He finds himself in a Dali-esque landscape reminiscent of an earlier Warner Bros. short, Porky in Wackyland.

Tin Pan Alley Cats - Cats Waller is blown out of this world

Cats encounters a number of bizarre creatures and characters, including a half-cat, half-dog creature which is constantly fighting with itself (an early incarnation of CatDog?)

Tin Pan Alley Cats - Cats Waller encounters a creature which is both a dog and a cat

In the end when Cats returns to Earth he quickly runs out of the club and joins the Missionaries in their song, a reformed cat.

Tin Pan Alley Cats - Cats Waller joins the missionaries in song

The strange thing about this short is that some of the caricatures are cats and some are people.  Also some animation was apparently recycled from an earlier cartoon.  One can appreciate the talent in the music of this short film despite the thankfully outdated caricatures.

Final Mewsings: As if black cats didn’t have to deal with enough negative stereotyping!

Relevant Links:

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