A farm cat moves to Paris in search of the high life while her wannabe lover from back home tries to reunite.A farm cat moves to Paris in search of the high life while her wannabe lover from back home tries to reunite.A farm cat moves to Paris in search of the high life while her wannabe lover from back home tries to reunite.
Set in France in the 1890s, also known as the Gay '90s as the title implies, the film is about Mewsette (Judy Garland in her only voice role), a country feline living on a farm with the mouser Jaune-Tom (Robert Goulet in his film debut) and his partner, a small blue kitten named Robespierre (Red Buttons). However, tired of her farm life, she hears about the beauty of living in the city of Paris, and decides to run away and catch the train. She is introduced by a black-and-white schemer named Meowrice (I swear, I'm not making that name up), not knowing that he has some rather slimy plans for her. Jaune-Tom learns of Mewsette's departure from Robespierre and they head for Paris to try and find her.
Even though the film is animated, it is, at heart, a musical, on par with many other musical films released before this, including the ones that also star Judy Garland. In fact, all of the songs written for the picture were done by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, the same duo who wrote the songs for the beloved 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz. Even after 23 years, their songwriting still held water, with songs like the uplifting "Roses Red, Violets Blue", and the slower ballads like "Take My Hand Paris", "Little Drops of Rain", and my favorite one of them all, "Paris is a Lonely Town", to name a few.
For the animation, if you're familiar with the shorts made by UPA, the animation is limited, but visually appealing and influential in terms of design and style, with French expressionism being a large inspiration of how the final film is supposed to look. For an animated film made in the '60s, this is probably the most colorful and very much alive. This is further utilized in a later scene where the film's artists make parody portraits based on the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, and, yes, even Pablo Picasso. After watching the scene, you'll know why UPA was known for their unique style that other studios weren't doing in their heyday.
The sad thing about this film is that it is not as well recognized as a lot of other animated classics. Even the 1970 animated Disney film "The Aristocats", which also took place in France and focuses on...well...cats, became more popular. The only people that would remember this film is if they were film and animation historians or if you saw it via Cartoon Network's Cartoon Theatre back in the '90s. Thankfully, however, the film is being re-discovered, with airings on Turner Classic Movies and releases on DVD via the Warner Archive Collection. For me, this is an underrated piece of animated cinema that should've gotten more recognition over the years. If you enjoy classic animation, definitely pick this one up.
- Aug 11, 2016