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Dick Whittington's Cat (1936)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 73 users  
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Dick Whittington's cat has a chance to make good in a faraway land infested with rats.

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(uncredited)
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Title: Dick Whittington's Cat (1936)

Dick Whittington's Cat (1936) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Storyline

Dick Whittington is a young boy who works for a cruel cook. As Dick is cutting potatoes (by sliding them through an electric fan), a hungry cat rubs itself against the boy's legs. Dick feeds him a saucer of milk, but the angry cook throws the cat into a bag and commands the boy to throw the poor animal into the river. Dick can't bring himself to do it. The cat ends up on a ship headed to a faraway land that happens to be infested with rats. Now, Dick Whittington's cat has the chance to make good. however, his natural cowardice may get the better of him. Written by J. Spurlin

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Plot Keywords:

cat | boy | rat | cook | ship | See more »


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Release Date:

30 May 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Gato de Dick  »

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(Cinecolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The order the cat's nine lives jump back into its body is: 7, 5, 3, 1, 6, 9, 8, 4, 2. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Cook: Throw him in the river!
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User Reviews

 
Daring cartoon from the days when they still could be.(possible spoiler)
7 June 2000 | by (oxford, england) – See all my reviews

Another wonderful Ub Iwerks time capsule from an age when animation, though still a little stilted, had yet to be neutered by sentiment, wholesomeness and denial. Here you will find, not sickly songs, contrived emotion, or cutesy creatures, but violence, attempted murder, child abuse, sadism, lynching. In one short ten-minute cartoon, the titular hero is bitten by a mouse, crammed into a bag to be drowned, stowed to foreign lands where he is chased by an army of mice and guillotined. This is Itchy and Scratchy 30s style, and it's great, disturbing fun.

Right from his diffidently slow, slinking entrance, we realise the cat is less a hero than a loser. But the systematic abuse and neglect suffered by him is similarly undergone by his owner, a young boy virtually enslaved to a brutish chef who assaults him with depressing regularity. If animation is traditionally aimed at children to inculcate healthy morals about conformity, than the moral of this film is that the world is a short, nasty, brutish place, where the strong will always bully the weak, the majority will fascistically root out difference (this IS 1936), no matter how hard you try. The final image subverts the happy ending cheerfully, but a little sadly.

Such a bleak viewpoint does not, pace Sartre etc., necessitate a bleak film, and the animation is pure joy. The movements of the characters may seem clumsy to us today, but they have a charm of their own, and Iwerks uses his technological limitations to create some startling effects. The sequence in Persia is astonishing, from the moment the mice swarm on the helpless (though guilty - they are slave owners) adults' dinner table, and gulp the meal in front of their very eyes, hiding in beards to prevent the loss of any stray pea; and the frightening chase of the cat, who hides in a lump of cheese, and is flushed out by a huge kitchen knife; to his ultimate guillotining, a haunting scene, where the ghosts of his sliced body wreak revenge on his murderers, before fulfilling the old adage about nine lives.

Can you imagine the daring, the terror, the philosophical depth, the mischievous glee of that in the year before SNOW WHITE? The only thing that might spoil the enjoyment of today's audience is the brief racial stereotyping typical of its time, but we can't expect people in 1936 to be as nice as we are today.


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