It Happened One Night (1934)
There’s a quick kitty cameo in one of the final scenes of this classic screwball comedy. Peter (Clark Gable) and Ellie (Claudette Colbert) check into a motel similar to the one where they previously spent the night. The husband (Harry Holman) and wife (Maidel Turner) owners of the motel discuss the actual relationship of the couple and ponder over their request for a rope, a blanket and a toy trumpet. All throughout their conversation the woman is holding a cat.
You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
Another classic comedy from Frank Capra. This adapted stage play is full of crazy characters, including the Sycamore family matriarch Penny (Spring Byington), who is diligently working on her manuscript, typing out pages throughout the first act. Beside her, next to the typewriter, is an adorable kitten which is acting as a paperweight. Not a bad system if you don’t mind the occassional stain and / or shredded page.
Gone With the Wind (1939)
In the second half of this epic Civil War drama, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) are married and have had a daughter named Bonnie Blue (Cammie King Conlon). Rhett and Bonnie return from London and Bonnie greets her mother Scarlett happily, showing off the present her father has given her. It’s an adorable tuxedo kitten with a white ribbon around its neck. All we can say is that Bonnie Blue would have been better off playing more with her kitten and less with her horse.
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
The classic tale of a British family coping with the harsh realities of World War II, this is the first film on our list to include a cat in a more prominent role. Napoleon is a tuxedo cat who is the beloved pet of Toby (Christopher Severn), the youngest of the Miniver family. Napoleon is seen in several scenes throughout the film, including the dramatic bomb shelter sequence in which Napoleon lays on top of Toby in a protective manner. Which is only fair since Toby was helpful in getting Napoleon outside to throw up earlier in the film. Friends look out for each other that way.
An American in Paris (1951)
Director Vincente Minnelli brings to life this beautiful musical vision of Gene Kelly and songwriter George Gershwin. At the beginning of the film we are shown a Paris street. As the camera pans by various colorful French characters it also passes an elderly woman feeding a tiny kitten on the sidewalk. The first of two Purr Blurs on this list!
On the Waterfront (1954)
Marlon Brando turned in a stunning performance as dockworker Terry Malloy in this film. But our interest is with his love interest, Edie (Eva Marie Saint). Edie returns home after spending time with Terry and she tells her father (John F. Hamilton) that she has decided to stay. As they talk, Edie holds and pets a white and tabby colored cat in a Kitty Cameo. Her father makes an analogy between her interest in Terry and the cat, saying of all the kittens in the litter she kept the one with six toes and crossed eyes. The cat actor playing the part did a good job despite not having either of these attributes.
As a bonus there is a quick Purr Blur in the scene when Friendly’s banker (Barry Macollum) is sitting in the back room and gets up to try to warn his boss that Terry is looking for him. As the man stands up you can just barely see a cat walk from the booth in the shadows. The cat probably knew that was a good time to take a powder.
The rousing musical gets the screen treatment by director Vincente Minnelli, his second film on our list. A large, tabby-colored Maine Coon shares several scenes with actress Leslie Caron in Gigi’s home, also acting alongside Louis Jourdan and Hermione Gingold. The cat is most prominently featured in the bedroom sequence in which Gigi is singing Say a Prayer for Me Tonight. The cat seems far too relaxed during this scene and there could be a reason behind that. According to various stories online, the cat actor did not like Leslie Caron and would scratch her, but Minnelli wanted to use that particular cat in the film and so it was drugged for the segment. Of course this practice is rightfully frowned upon today.
The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s unforgettable screen telling of Mario Puzo’s novel finds Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone. In the opening scene, which takes place on the day of his daughter’s wedding, Vito Corleone is listening to requests made by several visitors. As he listens to these requests, he is holding and petting an adorable tabby cat on his lap. Clearly the Don has a soft spot in his heart for cats. Maybe not quite as much for horses.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
This fun romantic comedy set in Shakespeare’s time includes an interesting Kitty Cameo. Shakespeare kicks out the actor playing the part of Ethel the pirate’s daughter, then sees him in the street later, playing with mice and using them to entice a black cat over. When asked his name, the boy says it is John Webster (Joe Roberts) and remarks how he prefers plays which are violent. John Webster was indeed a playwrite who wrote notably bloody and gorey works, which could explain why we hear the cat screeching as Shakespeare walks away.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Our last film for now is this memorable Coen Brothers picture. Near the middle of the film there is a Kitty Cameo when Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) checks into a hotel and notices an orange tabby cat drinking milk from a cup. Later the cat is still there but drinking the milk from the floor, indicating something violent has taken place.
As a bonus there is a Cat Cattle Call later in the film when Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) goes to visit his Uncle Ellis (Barry Corbin), a retired lawman. Uncle Ellis’ home is filled with cats, whom he describes as being either half wild or outlaws.
Did we miss any cats in Oscar Winning Best Pictures? Let us know!