Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Theodora Goes Wild DVD

Columbia Pictures
 Irene Dunne, Melvyn Douglas, Elisabeth Risdon, Margaret McWade
Directed by: Richard Boleslawski

Synopsis: Some of the residents of the small town of Lynnfield are shocked when their local newspaper starts printing the excerpts from a racy new bestseller by a woman named Caroline Adams, little realizing that the name is merely a pseudonym and the author is Theodora Lynn (Irene Dunne), one of their hometown girls.  On a trip to see her New York publisher she meets Michael Grant (Melvyn Douglas) who manages to uncover the secret of her true identity and shows up in Lynnfield to stir up the locals and “free” Theodora from her conservative surroundings.

Featured Feline: Theodora lives with her two spinster aunts, Mary (Elisabeth Risdon) and Elsie (Margaret McWade).  Throughout the film Elsie is seen with a black cat, often carrying it around with her.  When Michael Grant unexpectedly shows up he brings along a stray dog, which causes some consternation with Elsie regarding the cat.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat

Kitty Cameos: Later, as Theodora’s life begins to take on a scandalous color, we see fast cuts between shots of the judgmental women of Lynnfield talking on the phone intercut with close-up shots of cats, apparently to represent the catty nature of the gossip going on.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat close

Theodora Goes Wild white cat close

Theodora Goes Wild tabby cat close

Kitty Carnage Warning! One scene in this film really ruins the rest and that is when Theodora and her Aunts are driven to near madness by Michael’s constant whistling.  They become so frustrated that Aunt Mary slams a door, shattering its glass.  A moment later Elsie also slams a door shut, but her cat is standing with its tail just inside the doorway and she literally slams the door right on its tail, causing it to scream and struggle.  This is only painful to watch and not remotely funny.  And we honestly can’t see any way that this shot could have been faked.  It’s true there is a cut between Elsie slamming the door and the close up of the cat below, so the door may not have been shut as hard as it appears, but regardless the cat’s tail is definitely pinched in the door (close up to its hind quarters!) and it is in pain.  A poster on IMDb’s discussion board explains that the animal wrangler on the film was “Bert Sprott,” who apparently caused injury and death to many animals in films over his career.  This information we cannot substantiate but regardless of whether or not the scene was somehow shot humanely (with a flexible door or with the cat’s tail somehow held beneath) this movie ends up with a black mark that cannot be erased.

Theodora Goes Wild black cat

Final Mewsings: A cat in pain is not funny!

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