The Grocery Clerk (1919)

Vitagraph Company of America
 Larry Semon, Lucille Carlisle, Monty Banks
Directed by: Larry Semon

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

Synopsis: A grocery clerk (Larry Semon) goes to work with his sweetheart (Lucille Carlisle) who runs the store’s post office and both face a number of calamaties on the job including spilled molassas, flying flour and even a robbery!

Cat Burglar (Scene Stealer): One of the most notable players in this comedy is an uncredited long-haired cat who really steals the show in every one of his scenes.  The cat is first seen sticking his face into a can to get some food.

The Grocery Clerk - cat climbing up onto shelf

The Grocery Clerk - cat with head inside can eating

When the store’s owner, Big Ben (Frank Alexander) spots the cat he grabs a broom to shoo him away.

The Grocery Clerk - Big Ben sees cat eating from can

The cat jumps down and lands on a couple of pieces of flypaper.

The Grocery Clerk - cat lands on flypaper

Larry sees this and takes pity on the cat, trying to remove the flypaper.  When he can’t get it off, he takes a pair of scissors and cuts the paper so that only little squares remain on the cat’s paws.

The Grocery Clerk - Larry Semon cuts flypaper around cat's paws

This way the cat can walk around, even though he shakes his paws with every step.

The Grocery Clerk - cat walks with flypaper on paws animated gif

The cat climbs up the steps and walks around the railing above, moving in and out of various stored goods.

The Grocery Clerk - cat walking on upper floor

At one point the cat knocks over a bottle of molassas, which spills onto a sleeping customer’s bald head.

The Grocery Clerk - cat on upper floor about to knock over molassas

The cat shows up again later when a bunch of mice are seen crawling around in some cheese which Larry is trying to cut for a customer.  Most of the mice go running around the store and the cat sits down by the cheese (by way of reversing the film, which is used a lot in the following scenes).

The Grocery Clerk - cat sitting down by cheese

The one mouse still in the cheese pokes its head out and bites the cat’s tail (a mouse puppet is used for this!)  The cat races around the store with the mouse still holding onto his tail, and causes chaos.  A combination of the cat being on a wire and the film being run backwards explains how the cat manages to fly around the store, even jumping up from the ground floor to hang on the railing of the second floor.  Sadly, it was not uncommon for animals to be jerked around with wires in this era of film.

The Grocery Clerk - cat with mouse biting tail running around store animated gif

Final Mewsings: Let’s hope filmmakers don’t continue to jerk animals around to make movies.

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