Feed the Kitty (1952)
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Dangerous Marc Anthony meets a kitten and is smitten by its charms.
This cartoon is perfect. I look at the IMDb website and there is no link to the 'Awards & Nominations' section and I shake my head in grief. Warner Bros. has always had its icons in Bugs and Daffy but it was the little cartoons such as One Froggy Evening and Feed the Kitty that made Looney Tunes the rightful great it is today. I feel deep down that this short should get some recognition today, and it is an absolute must watch, for anyone, for all ages. It never gets old with each viewing.
The homemaker in the house makes it clear early on to the dog that she doesn't want him bringing anything into the house. The dog thinks he has to hide the cat, but the little animal gets loose and gets into various predicaments. While trying to hide the identify of the cat or save him being being in the mix-master and being made into a cookie, the dog is always pestering the woman and getting admonished. I read somewhere where this cat was in subsequent cartoons and named "Pussyfoot."
The beginnings of this animated short were both touching and very funny. Then, the one- joke story started to drag a bit until Marc Anthony thought the cat was killed a cried a river of tears, which actually was funny. (I've never a dog cry or sweat like this dog!) They even showed the poor dog's bloodshot eyes after his crying spell!
Another very funny touch was when the dog came back in the house and was given a cookie by the woman. He thought it was the poor little cat-made into-a cookie and placed it on his back where Pussyfoot laid before. This is one sensitive, caring dog! The end of this is more of the same - more touching and sweet than humor - but it was nice to see.
The most memorable part is when Marc Anthony, who mistakenly believes the kitten got mixed in with the cookie batter his owner is making up (as we saw, but he didn't, the kitten jumped out of the bowl and went off to clean itself), watches at the window as the batter is rolled out, cut into cookies, and put in the oven, fainting each time. He then starts howling in grief, until his owner lets him back in. Noting his "long face," she gives him a cookie...and it's shaped like a kitten! But as if this isn't heartbreaking enough, Marc Anthony takes it with a trembling paw, then puts it on his back like he carried the kitten before he starts howling in grief again.
Boy, they milk every single bit of pathos out of that scene before the kitten finally comes up and mews.
My Grade: A+
Spoilers are necessary to best analyze the strengths of this, one of Chuck Jones' directorial tours-de-force; indeed, as is so often the case, reviews of Chuck Jones' work cannot do it justice without provision of some details in certain key scenes.
Two large blue eyes stare out of the darkness - of a small tin can from which emerges a gorgeous little kitten (not named in the film but referred to as Pussyfoot in subsequent reviews). Seeing the seemingly helpless feline, bulldog Marc Anthony charges forth, roaring and barking with savage aplomb - and to no avail as Pussyfoot calmly coos at him. Jones scores his first bullseye with Marc Anthony's hilarious reaction to Pussyfoot's calmness, then cuts back to savage growling. Pussyfoot, however, calmly walks onto Marc Anthony's back, makes himself at home (Jones delights in the hilarious shots of Pussyfoot digging into the fur on Marc Anthony's back and the dog's pained expressions before the feline goes to comforting sleep), and Marc Anthony is immediately smitten, especially when Pussyfoot gives him a loving link.
But Marc Anthony's guardian is displeased with the tattered objects her dog frequently brings home, and warns him not to bring any additional objects within. Thus is Marc Anthony compelled to hide Pussyfoot from his guardian, but the engaging kitten has a mind of his own and the result is several incidents - funniest of all is the cereal bowl mistaken for a mouse that turns up a real mouse while Pussyfoot calmly eats out of Marc Anthony's bowl; when the dog realizes what's happening, the expressions by the mouse and the dog are hilarious.
But then the cartoon becomes more dramatic when Pussyfoot is hidden in a container of flour - that Marc Anthony's guardian is mixing for cookies. When the dog tries to stop her she throws him out for the afternoon and finishes making cookies. Marc Anthony watches in horror as the dough is mixed and chopped into cookies - unaware that Pussyfoot has calmly escaped and is cleaning himself in safety; that we are witnesses to the kitten's safe escape does nothing to reassure the audience as Marc Anthony breaks down in very real tears, leaving the audience genuinely shaken as if the kitten really was destroyed - especially cutting is the scene when the guardian gives Marc Anthony a cookie in the shape of a kitten, which only reminds the be-grieved dog of what he's lost all the more painfully.
Thus do Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese engage the audience on far more than two levels to make these cartoons compelling viewing. Just when you think this will be another comedic effort, you find it is a genuinely emotional act of storytelling.
I managed to track this down in Italy (where it's called "A Kitten for a Friend") and finally off Ebay in English.
There's something so wonderfully sweet and pure about this cartoon that it can bring me out of any type of bad mood.
From the opening shot of the kitten peering out the discarded can everything is just perfect. The range of expressions that Mark Anthony shows clearly illustrates the utter genius of Chuck Jones and the see saw of emotions that he can elicit in 7 or 8 minutes.
Most compelling of all is that you can go from laughing hysterically at Mark Anthony's ineffectual barking at Pussyfoot to choking up as he cries outside the house to relief when he and the kitten are reunited.
Favourite bit is when the dog's lower jaw hits the kitten as he gawps in wonder at what his mistress is saying.
I cannot sing the praises of this cartoon highly enough. My girlfriend thinks it's bizarre that I have this nestling between copies of Day of the Dead and Bronx Warriors.
It marks the first appearance of Pussyfoot and the curiously named Marc Anthony, a massive bulldog who goes through hell to protect cute little cat who constantly, walks into danger unawares. I find the idea of a dog having a pet of his own utterly charming and funny.
The animation and backgrounds echo Tom and Jerry rather than Looney Tunes, but for 2 lesser characters Pussyfoot and Marc Anthony make for a great twosome.
This is the story of a rather large bulldog named Marc Anthony, who finds a stray kitten that's very cute. Marc Anthony befriends the cat despite their obvious differences. Marc Anthony struggles to keep the kitten unknown to his owner. it's one of the sweetest stories that can be told in seven minutes... go see it!
One interesting thing about this film is that the scene in this cartoon, in which Marc Anthony thinks his cat is being made into cookies is given tribute in Monsters Inc. in the scene where Sulley thinks the little girl Boo has ended up in a trash compactor. Just goes to show what a well appreciated classic this one is.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite Chuck Jones cartoons of all-time and one of the best, period.
In Feed the Kitty, we have Marc Anthony, a big hulking bull of a dog, who falls head over heals for this adorable little kitty. This situation, in anyone else's hands, would have us either grabbing the hankies, or hugging the nearest toilet bowl. But Jones and his most frequent collaborator, writer Michael Maltese, have managed to integrate slapstick into this situation that gives more depth to the love this dog feels for this cat than any seven minute short should have a right to do.
Most people denounce a lot of animated cartoons as emotionless - they have no real human emotions whatsoever. But one of the few exceptions is FEED THE KITTY, a Chuck Jones classic starring minor Looney Tunes characters Marc Antony and Pussyfoot.
Well, it starts with the bulldog Marc trying to terrorize stray kitten Pussyfoot, but the latter is unfazed, thus snuggling up on his back. He walks home and his owner, a housemaid who expects cleanliness, also expects nothing else brought into their keep.
Marc tries smuggling the forbidden item from the maid, but the horror starts to increase when he hides Pussyfoot in the flour bin when she is about to make sugar cookies. He unsuccessfully tries to save her from being entangled in cookie dough and baked. The owner ousts him as she emerges out of the batter and escapes the mixer. The horror increases as Marc sees the maid roll and stamp out the dough, knowing that his dear Pussyfoot is getting baked to death. He cries through (already bloodshot and red) eyes a pond as she bakes her sugar cookies in the oven.
A short while later, the maid lets Marc back inside, his eyes raw and red from crying fervently. Seeing his puffy, ruddy eyes, she hands him a sugar cookie in the shape of a kitty. After receiving it with shaking paw, he places the confection on his back where the real kitten once laid, and bawls knowing that it's her remains.
I know for sure, as a cartoon fan, that the grieving dog is not the only cartoon character to cry till his eyes are red. (A lot of others' eyes remain white when they cry a river.) Take Skippy from ANIMANIACS, for instance. His red eyes (from crying a stream when he sees a death scene in a kids' movie, a BAMBI spoof) are seen when he blows his nose in Aunt Slappy's huge tissue outside the cinema in "Bumbie's Mom."
As Marc bewails his cooked kitty, the real Pussyfoot snuggles his face. He is overjoyed when he sees his kitty alive and well. But the maid notices him, and he bawls with red eyes again, this time holding the kitten indicating that he wants her in the house. She allows him to keep him under a few conditions – he has to take care of him and clean up after him (despite the fact that Pussyfoot is actually a "she"). The cartoon ends with Pussyfoot snuggling up and sleeping on his back.
FEED THE KITTY stands out in emotional terms from myriad other Warner Brothers shorts made during the latter part of the Golden Age of American Animation. Yes, it has funny parts like a lot of them, but many a viewer would match Marc's red eyes as he grieves his pet and places the cookie on his back. Simply put, you'd better get a box of tissues at standby when watching this cartoon for the part when he cries a pond! Any cartoon lover should not overlook this animation short.
Here are my favorite moments from "Feed the Kitty" (if you haven't yet seen this cartoon, don't read any further). I love Marc Anthony's classic "Who? Me?" look in his eyes when he hides Pussyfoot in the flour cabinet, as well as his bloodshot eyes & high-pitched whine when he thinks that Pussyfoot has been baked into a batch of cookies. Composer/arranger Carl Stalling repeatedly uses three popular songs throughout this cartoon that represent Pussyfoot: "Ain't She Sweet" is the playful kitten's primary theme; "Oh! You Beautiful Doll" is heard when Marc Anthony disguises Pussyfoot as a powder puff; and "Mommy's Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread" is heard when the lady of the house makes her batch of cookies.
"Feed the Kitty" is a cartoon that is funny, yet it also tugs at your heart. Director Chuck Jones later admitted that he hadn't planned on having his audience cry at the "cookie climax" of this film; I think it's safe to say that "Feed the Kitty" was a major achievement for Chuck in terms of the audience's emotional spectrum.
My favorite scene is the mousehole scene, where Marc Anthony who hid Pussyfoot in a mousehole from his mistress, picks up a mouse (thinking it's Pussyfoot) and places it on his back. But Pussyfoot was really eating from Marc's dish. Realizing his goof-up Marc Anthony throws the mouse back in the hole.
So anyway, this short is Chuck's most enduring piece. And you know, animation fans would recognize Bea Benaderet (Marc's mistress), as the voice of Betty Rubble from The Flintstones; also many other Looney Tunes shorts too.
Of all the artists who worked at Warner Brothers' animation department, Jones's humor was the most psychologically oriented. As such, his sense of slapstick found its expression not in physical, but psychological, expressions of pain: frustration, humiliation, panic, emotional trauma. (Witness the numerous Road Runner/Coyote and Pepe Le Pew shorts Jones directed.) "Feed the Kitty" exemplifies this cruel streak in Jones's humor. The most well-known sequence in this work is when Mark Antony believes Pussyfoot has been killed and blended into cookie dough, and the poor bulldog collapses into paroxysms of grief and sobbing. Many here have already noted how heartrending this sequence comes across. But on the PBS documentary about Jones, he stated that he conceived all that strictly for laughs, that he thought it was funny and meant it to be taken as such--and that, at its premiere, he was shocked to see members of the audience in tears upon watching it.
Not necessarily for fall-down funny, mind you, though there are some great gags, but because it takes a story with a ridiculous premise, and not only tells it convincingly, but--dare I say about a 7 minute animated short?--even movingly.
That FEED THE KITTY strikes people as deeply as it does (and it does--just look at many of the other comments on this board) suggests that maybe there is a deeper meaning here. I'm loath to over-analyze cartoons; Will Rogers said words to the effect that you can dissect a joke, and you can dissect a frog, but neither is likely to survive the process. Even so, there really is something cool and special to the story in this one.
Bulldog Marc Antony is really a typical "guy" in FEED THE KITTY, facing what really works out to be first-time fatherhood. And Pussyfoot's innocence gets to Marc Antony much the way us guys find ourselves vulnerable to with our own children. THAT'S why this story is so affecting; it's an experience many of us can relate to.
I also loved Pixar's MONSTERS INC, for the same reasons. Even though the trash compactor scene from MONSTERS is a direct homage to FEED THE KITTY, I see a lot of other, less obvious influences.
Chuck Jones and his crew at Warner Brothers took animated storytelling to a level that nobody else has been able to quite equal, and FEED THE KITTY is my favorite example of their best work.