Friday, January 16, 2009

Film #107: Feed The Kitty

Of course, as a cat lover first and a dog lover second, I have to adore Chuck Jones' 1952 Warner Brothers cartoon Feed the Kitty. With only three characters, minimal dialogue, and the barest of plots--bulldog Marc Anthony absurdly tries to hide the teeny kitten he's adopted from the lady of the house--Jones' film is absolute animation mastery. The director once described himself as "an actor with a pencil," and Feed the Kitty is proof of this thesis. Marc Anthony's catalogue of hilarious facial expressions are a delight. He's at turns ferocious, smitten, sweaty, red-eyed with tears, horrified, sickened, coquettish, crushed, desperate, scolding, and protective.

And, of course, this big-eyed kitten he's taken in represents exactly what us cat lovers adore about felines. We all can relate to the "oooch ouch oooch eep" feelings Marc Anthony goes through as his kitten "makes biscuits" on his back, and then to the warm sensation he feels as kitty finally curls up to sleep. Of course, the cartoon's funniest bits are the ones in which Marc Anthony tries to hide the kitten from the lady (who's pretty funny in her own right, even if only her two legs are seen). I particularly love the moments where the kitty instantly stiffens up as the dog pretends it's only a wind-up toy; where Carl Stallings' sweet, speeded-up version of "Oh You Beautiful Doll" scores a moment in which Marc Anthony humorously disguises his new pet as a powerpuff; and the famous scene where, while peering through the kitchen window, the bulldog witnesses what he thinks is the mixing-bowl death of his kitty, and faints uproariously (this is homaged in Pixar's great 2001 film Monsters, Inc.).

The voices here are provided by WB's own Mel Blanc, of course, and Bea Benaderet, both of whom would be reunited as Betty and Barney Rubble on TV's The Flintstones. Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot (as the cat has come to be called) would reteam in 1953's Kiss Me Cat (where the dog tries to teach Pussyfoot how to catch mice) and in 1958's Cat Feud (a variation on traditional cat-and-dog acrimony with Marc Anthony protecting Pussyfoot from a scuzzy alley cat). However, neither of these still-amusing cartoons approach the subversive mixture of sentimentality and laughs on display in Feed the Kitty.

1 comment:

NoirishCity.... said...

Hi! Dean,
That was funny!..especially, the cookie making scene.
Btw, I notice Marty and Angelo have taken a new photograph. The "boys"
look great!...I wish I had a copy of the other pix (were they was snuggled up together looking cozy!) to place on my blog.
The "Dame"