Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Unruly Cat

Ah, the pieces of my film education are all falling into place.  Our next Tom and Jerry, The Flying Cat, has some really nice backgrounds.  The first one where Tom removes the bird cage from its hook almost looks like a photo.
That's right, folks.  It's time for the MGM Tom and Jerry equivalent of Tweety again.  But this is a Tweety equivalent you can be proud of, a Tweety substitute you can leave alone with your kids.  I mean, those Warner Brothers cartoons.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Tweety's gutter demeanor.  Tweety's X-rated jokes.  No, only the cleanest, most savoury characters can be friends with Jerry Mouse, and have Tom Cat as a common enemy.
The bird and mouse help each other out right away.  Jerry trips Tom while he's running with the birdcage.  Tom falls, but that birdcage skids along the grassy ground and crashes into a tree as though it were a car with no tires on a road.  Still better than getting eaten by the cat!  The bird helps out the mouse by pulling down a clothesline.  The cat ends up getting cut into sections by the four clotheslines.  Maybe they're actually piano wire or something.  In any case, a nice shout-out to Tom's ocean crash in Cat Napping.
The bird and mouse eventually claim the high ground, in the form of a birdhouse atop a very high pole.  It's rent control, comes fully furnished, which the teeny duo will enjoy later.  For now, the turf must be defended.  The cat easily climbs up the pole to the birdhouse, but the bird gives the cat a 2000 pound weight as a greeting present, thereby forcing the cat to use more creative measures.
For me, the most interesting attempt involves the swing.  Tom uses a swing to get back up to the birdhouse.  Alas, the swing's just barely not long enough, and Tom ends up clinging to the birdhouse's platform by his fingers.  The bird and mouse jump down on the cat's fingers with enough force to cause the cat to scream in pain like a man and fall back down to earth on the swing.  Either that cat's a big wuss, or that bird and mouse are just that strong.  Where's the determination, Tom?  If you're going to bruise so easily, maybe you should just pack it up and go home right now.
A pole-vaulting mishap leads to the premise inherent in the film's title.  I'm going to criticize the sloppy editing here, because the cat doesn't scream or react before bashing through the window of the longest house in the world.  Sloppy editing, guys.  Also, the house is a repeating background.  You can tell more easily if you have the DVD, rather than watching this on the YouTubes or the Vimeo, or whatever the next hot YouTube wannabe is.  Whatever it is, it won't last.  But this cartoon is directed by Hanna and Barbera, whose stock and trade is repeating backgrounds... and repeating loops of animation in general.
After Tom destroys the top floor of that long long house, he ends up wearing a kinky pink girdle.  But this is a kids' cartoon after all, and so the thought to use it to fly takes hold.  This puts me in mind of one of the Road Runner cartoons where the coyote gets a flying suit.  Especially so because the same thing happens to Tom here.  While Tom is learning the art of flying with his new pink suit, Tom beams proudly at the audience... just before crashing.  But this isn't a Road Runner cartoon, so we're going to spend the rest of this cartoon with Tom flying around.  But here's the link to the soundtrack information.  I don't know my classical music like I should.
Tom quickly masters the art of flying in a girdle, but his ambitions are sadly limited to scaring and or eating that mouse and bird.  If this were one of those shows like Survivorman, we'd get to see what that would look like.  Jerry tries to warn the bird through the art of cartoon pantomime that the cat is now flying around through the air.  Why, Jerry couldn't believe his own eyes at first!  Lol.  The bird has to find out for himself, and does so in the worst way, damn near losing all its feathers in the process.  Now, the bird could have gone back inside the birdhouse and been okay, but for two reasons: 1) it was scared, and 2) there'd be no cartoon.  It's a tension building technique, like how scared victims fumble with the car keys in low-grade thrillers.
Here's a nice touch the storytellers go for.  Screenwriters, take note.  The bird heads back to the birdhouse.  Without batting an eye, the mouse and bird turn the roof of the birdhouse upside down, exposing all the long nails previously holding it in place.  Tom tries to slow down and keep from hitting it, but it's to no avail.  Tom lightly bounces off the nails with his ass.  That guy must have iron in his blood, because the nails get all crooked.  Tom lands in a fountain of water on the ground.  Now, here's the nice touch: as Tom sits in the water, bubbles gently rise up from the water around Tom's ass.  This lasts for a few brief seconds.  Tom jumps out of the water and ends up watering a few flowers with his ass.  Alas, the flowers are part of the background, so they don't immediately perk up.
Now, I don't ask often, but I ask you now... is this genius or what?  Scientific precision to the cruelty!  That's the thing.  Well, it's still less cruel than Two Gophers from Texas... I'm going to keep referencing that til someone complains.  I'm sorry.  Preferably, one of Art Davis' aggrieved ancestors.
Now it's the bird's turn to save the mouse.  The bird gets smart and considerably less afraid, and unties the string of Tom's girdle.  The bird ends up catching Jerry from Tom's grip and flies him to safety.  Alpha bird!  Tom plummets to earth and ends up splitting a whole tree in half with his crotch.  Maybe I was wrong about Tweety earlier.
Now you'd think that that's the finale, but alas, dear reader, you and I were wrong.  Tom quickly ties his girdle back together and the chase is on again, as fierce as ever.  Why, only an oncoming train can stop Tom now, so that's where the bird heads: to a train tunnel.  Tom doesn't get out of the way in time, and POW.  Tom ends up hanging from a train signal like one of them old timey swinging signals for trains... maybe they're still used, I don't know.  Or are they all just like traffic lights for cars now?  Anyway, Jerry and the bird end up taking that train out of town.  I think this means that Tom won, because usually it's Tom that ends up leaving town... isn't it?  Seems like it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

No comments: