Friday, 9 March 2012

125. The Cat Came Back (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 124.
Release date: February 8, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Kitten).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Ben Clopton.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Okay - I'm certain that this is the last 2-strip Technicolor cartoon made by WB until Cinecolor returns in the 1940s'.

 The cartoon begins with a basement access door outside in which we view inside the basement with an off-screen chorus of singers singing the title song The Cat Came Back. A group of kittens are under the basement playing and prancing with each other. Aww - look at the kittens - well; I can never imagine kittens like that since they're always awkward when I go near them.

The mother cat is sitting on her easy rocking chair doing some knitting. She is also watching her kittens play sensibly as they are playing along. So it's a pretty easy life for being a cat family - or is it?

 We PAN into a mouse hole in which there is a mouse family with the mother mouse trying to teach her mice about the dangers of cats. "Now listen children", but speaks to the mice about the dangers of cats via lyrics of The Cat Came Back. Sounds like an educated lesson to me.

Meanwhile the mother cat is also teaching her kittens on how to catch a mouse even having to smack her kitten on the head to "pay attention". Okay; the mother cat has a more annoying voice than the mother mouse. She then starts to encourage one of the kittens to run over and try to attack a mouse that looks more like a punching bag. The mother cat then shouts "Next" in which a black cat runs into the punching bag and hits himself on the head feeling rather weary. Looks like the mother feline is teaching her kits an educated lesson on how to catch a mouse. If you compare the lessons between the cat and mouse - it's basically brain vs. brawl.

Meanwhile the mother mouse is teaching her mice on how to escape from a cat chasing after a mouse by using a broom to demonstrate the cat's claw. The mouse's aim is to run into the mouse-hole for safety (But aren't they already in the mouse-hole - and how come the mouse-hole looks too small for the mother mouse to EVEN fit in? The mother mouse continues to use more examples and demonstrations on how to avoid the cat's claw - also to return to safety on time.

The next sequence we come back to the mother cat who is teaching her kittens to chase after a mouse with a toy mouse to chase after it. There is a black kitten who is asked to go "get it" in which there is a small chase sequence which is hopeless for the kitten. The kitten finally grabs it but gets attacks by the nuts; tools inside the toy mouse.

Meanwhile the mouse mother is then teaching her children about trying to avoid from mouse traps that are set up by cats. It is a type of mousetrap where they go inside the hole but one mouse then runs through the holes successfully picking up the cheese. It seems that the mice children are the most successful out of the kittens.

As the story finally gets going after these repetitive sequences of education sequences on how to survive or catch. A rather bored mouse then leaves the group to walk past the mouse-hole which would be dangerous. The black and white kitten then does the same thing and exits the mouse-hole which appears to be big enough for a cat to get out easily.

Both the kitten and the mouse walk out of their holes in which they both encounter each other by bumping each other until they run back to their bases. They both step out looking at each other curiously as though that they're not enemies.

They are both looking at each eye to eye as though they're trying to top each other with dirty looks. Hang on a minute; WHY the hell is the mouse almost the exact same height at the kitten. MICE ain't even THAT big. What horrible designs through the character's heights - it looks very unrealistic that way. The mother mouse then looks out of the scene in which she screams of the fact that there is a kitten. The mother then grabs the mouse in which she tells off the kitten in a really fast voice. Even when I notice it now the mother mouse looks MUCH taller to be a basement mouse which stumps me. The mother mouse then continues to tell off the cat in which she takes the little mouse back into the mouse-hole. When the mother walks back into the mouse-hole she appears to be in a small enough size to walk in! My god; how did the size of the characters WORK in this cartoon.

The kitten then looks inside the mouse-hole rather curious at what's inside there. As he's already stepped inside we hear off-screen violence going on as though the mother is trying to beat up the kitten to get out of the way. The kitten then slides out of the scene but ends up running to the mother cat as the kitten was kicked in the booty.

The kitten runs up to a concerned mother. The kitten is also talking in an extremely high-pitch voice in which most of us can understand (unless it was heard in slow motion). But we can make out at least what the child is saying as he mentions "he did nothing" and talks out being assaulted by the mother mouse of being kicked in the rear end. The mother hears about the news from her child in which she plans to march on right up to the mother to give her a "talk" by responding "She did?"

The cat then walks up to the mouse-hole. MY GOD! The CAT IS EVEN SMALLER. Why does is ALL CHANGE SIZE! This is REALLY doing my head in. In fact I don't even want to talk about bloody sizes of the characters or even mouse-holes throughout this review until the "overall comments" section. The mother cat tries to give the mother mouse a telling off for hurting her kitten. The mother mouse's reply is a poke in the mother cat's reply by the mouse's fingers.

The mother cat is extremely shocked that the cat had been interacting with another mouse in which she takes him by the hand away from the mouse-hole and back home for a punishment. The kitten is sitting down on some small piece of cardboard box being put into isolation - rather bored. The mouse then approaches the scene whispering to the cat's ears for attention to "come here". The kitten quietly exits the scene.

The mouse and kitten then both rush out of the scene in which the kitten is obviously in trouble but something to stop him from being bored - I suppose. The mouse then starts to turn on a gramophone in which the record player starts to play music that kitten and the mouse are going to dance to. The kitten and mouse are already friends in which they are doing a special type of dance. What is this - Tom and Jerry the Movie? (even though that came out much, much later on in 1992).

Well the cat and the mouse are dancing - and at least it's not watching the same old dancing routine that we've seen in these cartoons. They both continue to dance to the music until the cat falls down the manhole (don't forget this IS the basement you know). Well that was a rotten trick; the cat falling down the basement even though it was no trick but an accident.

The cat then starts to fall down the drain and then ends up in the sewer as it's being washed away. In which a drain sequence begins where a character is in trouble. It seems to me that the WB cartoons had to have these routines (Dance - villain - villain chases girlfriend - danger sequence towards the end) it's highly improbable if that was the only choice of routines for the cartoons but it's just a theory.

The mother cat steps out of the mouse hole in which she screams since she was probably looking for her kitten. She looks down the drain in which she almost faints since her child is in danger and is close to being sucked up by the sewage. The mouse then decides to make a jump for it by jumping down the man hole by risking his life to save the kitten's life. The mother mouse then steps out of the scene with the same reactions as the mother cat. The mother mouse grabs out a plunger to try and suck her child out but that obviously fails. They both continue to wonder around still worrying - ahh; typical mothers.

The kitten is trying his best to swim backwards but can't since the sewage water is strong that he's swimming the wrong way that it's impossible to do so. The mouse is still swimming for it trying to catch up with the kitten to try and rescue him on time. The kitten then encounters a cuckoo clock - probably a house owner got pissed off with the cuckoo all the time ;-). The cuckoo then starts to peck the kitten numerous times.

The mouse then starts to climb aboard a guitar for safety in which the mouse won't be able to be in danger. The mouse then starts to grab out a paddle in which he uses it as a rowing boat - well; I don't see how THAT'S going to get him any faster but wants the kitten to climb aboard safely too.

The cat tries to catch up with the mouse but can't swim any further (even having to dodge past broken equipment and even a baby chair). The cat is then about to make an end at the sewage part but then starts to fall in which he is also at the end but starts to whirl around as he is about to be sucked down the drain.

The mouse then continues to try and take his time saving the kitten but does so in which the kitten is holding onto the mouse's tale (as the mouse is about to reach the surface). The kitten then gets caught up in tangles which would've been a funny gag but very slow paced in which you can't see it very well to understand it. The stick that then sends them to the surface forms into a helicopter (via mouse's tail). They both then land onto the ground safely.

The mother cat and mouse continue to wander around the room still worried about the whereabouts of their children making groaning sounds. Hmm, the groans sounds like as though they're crying on the Wailing Wall. Both the mouse and kitten then arrive on the stairs of the basement shouting "Yoo-hoo" - although I don't think the "yoo hoo" sounds are appropriate to use when you've returned from a dangerous adventure.

The mothers then rush into the scene in which they start to barge into each other to hug their children. Instead they find that they've kissed the wrong child by mistake in which the mother mouse has the kitten and vice versa for the mother cat. They then correct the same children before they can kiss them as part of reunion.

The next sequence then shows the cats and mice all dancing around together in a circle in which they are already friends with each other - no longer enemies. The mother cat and mouse are looking at them getting along with one another.

The mother cat and mouse are looking at each other in which they're proud of their children. BUT; the mother cat recalls that earlier on in the sequence when the mother mouse whacked her in the eyes with her fingers. So the mother cat wants retaliation towards the mother in which she has already vowed for revenge. The mother cat does the same action in which the mothers then start to go into a fight. The kittens and mice are obviously influenced by their behaviour in which they start to fight one another.

Overall comments: This cartoon was just rather stupid when I watched it; in terms of its plots and it's errors. The worst part of that cartoon in which (I think) is horrible to look at is the bad sizes of the characters that seem to change throughout the cartoon - since the mother cat appears shorter; but also the mice appear to be REALLY tall (well for the mother). I think that Friz Freleng should have cut that out since it looks awful. The cartoon was just boring and it didn't really seem to excite me at all. The only part which seemed to be funny was the eye thumping of the mother mice to the cat (saved by Treg Brown's funny sounds). I thought the ending was however plain stupid when they all start to fight again; since the mother cat couldn't get over herself; although the kittens being influenced was a little funny. The animation was just plain; conservative animation that was also nothing special to look at. I just hope this happens to be a bad cartoon for Friz (well; he ONLY started to gradually improve).


  1. Friz Freleng really liked the Three Stooges, as is widely known, that's where the eye poke came from.....I actually like this and the catchy theme, even if a bit sweet for Warner,s it was, after all, still the mid thirties.Just hold on by mid-1936 to 1938 and the style we love would fit in more.Steve C.

  2. Oh yes - I knew about the Three Stooges part with the eye-poke but I thought I didn't need to mention it since we already know that. I personally don't like the looks of the new "Three Stooges" film coming out this year.

  3. "Okay - I'm certain that this is the last 2-strip Technicolor cartoon made by WB until Cinecolor returns in the 1940s'."

  4. No, this is a 3-strip Technicolor short.

    The first 3-strip Technicolor short was 1935's "Flowers for Madame."

    We will never know what the original opening and closing credits had looked like. This was the 12th Blue Ribbon re-release overall (on July 15, 1944) but the ending title card was unchanged from 1936. A second re-release from 1954 replaces the original end title with a still "That's all, Folks!" ending card of the period.


  5. European Dubbed prints of "The Cat Came Back" keep the static ending intact, but the disclaimer is also there as well.