Feline Follies

Master Tom loses his job guarding the kitchen for spending the night on the back fence with Kitty White.

The mice wreak havoc while he’s away.

Tom has sired a batch of kittens.

He kills himself.

A romance of Pussyville, a most excellent cartoon just before Felix the Cat.

 

Felix Fifty-Fifty

Furie supercharged this into one of his masterpieces, Little Fauss and Big Halsy, it has the same sense as Losey’s The Servant, Bu˝uel’s Viridiana has the same idea. Messmer and Sullivan give it the pure schematic simplicity of a fairy tale.

Felix like Chaplin in Modern Times is plucked from the machine, a motorist’s engine, and booted over the horizon. He hits a tree and lands beside it. A passing train ejects a hobo from an open boxcar, he lands the same way.

The proposal is made to Felix that they go “fifty-fifty”, the bum can’t walk because of his shoes, Felix spies a sleeper in an upstairs window, croons a tune from a sheet of music paper while perched on the man’s fence, two shoes are hurled at him. Happily he brings them to the bum, who silently points at his own feet. Felix removes the old, worn-out shoes and puts the new ones on the bum, who now says they need something to eat (the dialogue is in rectangular boxes above their heads). Felix waters a flower that grows with him on its corolla up to the second-floor windowsill where a chicken is cooling. The bum accepts this, but something to drink is needed.

By the two jagged lines of a river, Felix pulls out a spyglass and sees a bottle of milk at a distant house. He drops the spyglass into the river without a thought and, because he can’t swim, enrages a goat that butts him into the air all the way to the house.

He returns with the milk and gets the wishbone. “Fifty-fifty,” says the bum. “Only a bum would do that,” Felix says angrily, and the bum makes him eat those suspended words.

Felix would “give 6 lives to get even.” A wanted poster for Mike the Yegg is quickly altered to resemble the bum by adding a beard and squeezing in the nose a bit, Felix calls out for a cop. “Ha ha ha,” says Felix.

“A square deal at last,” says a title card, as the judge gives the bum fifty days, and Felix fifty dollars in cash.

Felix’s tail mysteriously rising from the open radiator when the motorist unscrews the cap, the unequal numerals of the partnership growing and shrinking side by side in the air when Felix complains, the superb gags, the deft, clean draftsmanship and fine animation are kin to Fleischer, the graphisms (such as a line of dashes extended rapidly to the sighted object) are characteristic, along with a question mark connoting amazement, suddenly inked overhead.

 

 

Felix the Cat Ducks His Duty

Sullivan & Messmer were dynamic, fully-accomplished pioneers of animation, as this film shows. The plain black-and-white cels have a graphic quality akin to the German Expressionists, and a telegraphic cartooning in the American style, which easily carries a schematic trench warfare gag to its conclusion in the battle of the sexes.