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In a documentary that I saw about Chuck Jones, he talked briefly about
"Feed the Kitty", and the idea that this big brute of a bulldog gets so
easily charmed by an innocent little kitten. It's certainly a
fascinating idea, and the risk of the kitten getting discovered - or
worse - by the dog's owner naturally raises the stakes. I would imagine
that there might be some controversy about the portrayal of the dog's
owner (a housewife who spends her days baking cookies and vacuuming),
but we can't blame the whole cartoon for that. The point is that this
is the sort of work that you least expect, and it comes out perfect.
And to think that the first scene shows some evil-looking eyes...that turn out to be the kitten!
Chuck Jones has been accused in his career for being too cutesy, too
Disneyesque, lacking the flamboyance and loonyness for Looney Tunes. His
earliest directorial efforts gave these critics some credence. And, I
suppose, you could judge this cartoon the same way. It is cute, certainly.
Loony? Not too much. But it is one of those shorts that have added to the
legacy of the Warner Bros. cartoons from this era, combining richness,
artistry and humor like no one has ever been able to equal.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . somewhat problematic. I guess it may be analogous to the American Black Folks who owned slaves themselves in the 1800s (but they, at least, had to be "Free Men" BEFORE purchasing their racial equals). Blacks owning Blacks made Slavery "Fair and Balanced," according to the Southern Church Preachers back then. But Goofy owning Pluto (at least when Mickey Mouse was in jail)?! Werern't Goofy and Pluto BOTH dogs?! That one always threw me for a loop, and similar arrangements still do. The bulldog Marc Anthony adopts a kitten on the sly in FEED THE KITTY. Eventually Marc's human mistress tells her dog that he can keep this tiny cat as his pet, as long as he cleans up her litter box for the next 26 years. Unfortunately, that's about TWO CENTURIES in Dog Years! This means that Marc's newly assigned responsibilities won't work out, mathematically. Apparently, it will be up to Marc to find himself a mate, and to train their puppies to care for cats. This unrealistic expectation of multi-generational canine cat management is why it really helps if there is a Man of the House in an American Home, who can use his innate STEM skills to figure out the logistics of complicated matters, such as pets owning pets. Or to simply put his foot down, which probably would be the best option here.
A Warner Brothers bulldog finds a little kitten one day. He tries to intimidate the little guy, but the cat doesn't react at all. Soon the dog begins to be attracted to the kitten and takes him on like a child. The problem is that he has already overstepped his bounds in the house and is under close scrutiny from his master. His efforts to maintain a position in the house are quite humorous as he does things that are totally uncharacteristic of tough Bulldogs. The lady of the house thinks he is going crazy, acting so weirdly as he works to keep the kitten from being discovered. This has that quick animation of Chuck Jones and a clever, touching plot.
Classic Chuck Jones short, brilliant in its simplicity, about a bulldog named Marc Antony who finds a new friend in a little black kitten (later named Pussyfoot). Throughout the cartoon, Marc Antony tries to protect his new friend from being discovered by the mistress of the house, fearful she won't let the kitty stay. Charming, sweet, funny, and clever -- it's just absolute perfection from start to finish. Beautiful animation with well-drawn characters and backgrounds. Lovely, rich colors. Wonderful music from Carl Stalling. Bea Benaderet does a great job as the voice of the woman. It really doesn't get much better than this. When that kitten gets in the toy car, even the iciest of hearts will melt.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(spoilers ahead for the review)
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Feed the Kitty", directed by Chuck Jones, is a wonderful Warner Bros.
cartoon that stars two characters who never really became popular with
the public: Pussyfoot the kitten and Marc Anthony the bulldog. The love
and friendship they have for one another is absolutely adorable.
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.
Chuck Jones's 'Feed the Kitty' is one of the undisputed classics of animation. It runs the gamut of moods from sweet to horrifying, hilarious to tear-jerking. The short made such an impression on director Joe Dante that he regularly pays tribute to it in his full length features. Starring a soft-hearted bulldog named Marc Anthony and a doe-eyed kitten named Pussyfoot, 'Feed the Kitty' forsakes the usual anarchic mayhem of Warner Bros. cartoons for a disarmingly heartwarming tale of one dog's adoration for a cat. Jones knows better than to revisit the Disney-esquire cuteness of his dull early work and neatly sidesteps this by mixing the sweetness with plenty of laughs and an extremely dark sequence in which Marc Anthony thinks Pussyfoot has been chopped up and baked to death! 'Feed the Kitty' subverts the usual setup for cartoons in which a big character causes chaos while trying to catch and eat a little character by making the motive for the chaotic antics the big character's desire to protect the little character. Marc Anthony goes to extreme lengths to hide Pussyfoot's presence from the owner he is sure will eject the kitten from the house. In doing so, Marc Anthony undoubtedly steals the cartoon. Cute and accurately kitten-like as Pussyfoot is, he is basically a prop. Marc Anthony, on the other hand, became world famous for his performance in this cartoon by virtue of his plethora of amazing facial expressions. Much has been made of the facial expressions Jones coaxes out of his characters and 'Feed the Kitty' is the prime example of his genius with a reaction. Marc Anthony snaps instantaneously from ferocious to confused to adoring to desperate to stern to relieved etc. The saggy, bloodshot look of total devastation that he adopts when he believes Pussyfoot has been killed is the most jaw-dropping element of 'Feed the Kitty'. It is so heart-wrenchingly accurate in its depiction of a soul who has lost all hope that it is simultaneously unbearably sad and hilarious in its extremity. It's unlike any expression you've seen in a cartoon before and writer Mike Maltese pushes this grim gag one step further when he has Marc Anthony take the freshly baked effigy of his beloved pet and place it lovingly on his back. Of course, this deeply sad material is also very, very funny because the audience is in on the joke and knows that Pussyfoot is OK and we are rewarded with a happy ending. The cartoon ends on a quiet note instead of the usual crash of an anvil or straight to camera wisecrack, further highlighting what an unusual piece of work 'Feed the Kitty' is. Jones used Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot in several other shorts but never to such incredible effect as in this classic treasure of a film.
Chuck Jones is a master! I really love his cartoons including this
enduring short. I think Pussyfoot is cutest kitten character of Looney
Tunes besides Figaro from Disney's Pinocchio.
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.
This short is about a bulldog named Marc Anthony who, despite himself, falls for a cute little kitten who likes to rest on his back. But his female master has had enough of his mess he makes around the house and threatens to throw him out if he brings another thing inside. Most of the humor concerns the dog's attempts to keep the kitten from his master's sight. There's a mix-up involving the cat's fate in the middle but all ends happily and when the short ends, it's not on a laugh as usually done on these Warner shorts but a cute coda. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this was done by Chuck Jones since he initially made Disney-like cartoons early in his Warner Bros. directing career. Anyway, I highly recommend Feed the Kitty.
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