I really wish the box was better on this Ken Films Home movie edition of ‘Frankenstein’s Cat’….
I first saw this box when I was in first grade, at a friend’s house. He had this and ‘Gypsy Life’ at least— and I was really fascinated by the idea of actually having a movie. It was my friend Ralph’s birthday party, and after we watched the tiny black and white silent print of Gypsy Life, we went onto other things. I remember hoping we’d end up watching more. I don’t know what that exposure had long-term, but I do know every time I hear the name of this cartoon I think of that box.
In the world of Thunderbean:
I got back from New York after a really busy weekend. I drove a carload of films out, had a chance to hang out with our own Devon Baxter, participated in a panel at the New York Comic-Con, went to a wedding, and had a great breakfast and visit with Tommy Stathes, who was generous enough to lend some key films for upcoming Thunderbean Blu-rays. Time for sleep!
It’s also a crazy shipping week at Thunderbean as we send out all the copies of the ‘Secret Halloween’ set along with three other special discs. The Graumans and Becca will have their hands full keeping things on track, but they’re leaving me to finish a few official sets that are nearly completed. After these four special discs are out, it’s time to send even more, and I’m enjoying seeing the list get shorter…
And– today’s cartoon!
Illustrator, writer and cartoon historian Stewart Mckissick lent me this lovely print of Frankenstein’s Cat (1942) a little while back, and I was happy to scan it.
Terrytoons have their ups and downs, but the especially well-produced ones are visually beautiful and wonderful entertainment. Story isn’t usually a strong suit in the majority of the shorts, but here it balances the film . Oddly enough, this cartoon is a little closer (!) to a faithful retelling of the Frankenstein’s Monster story than any other cartoon I can think of- but I don’t think the monster was flying through the air blowing fire in the original. In addition to a pretty fun storyline, the layouts and background painting is really nice in this short. I especially enjoy how New York-y Super Mouse is as he grills the monster. Seeing him with a gangster-esque expression slapping the afraid monster in close-up is a strange moment in the short- way below the class Mighty Mouse would later have (after all, socking someone over and over is more gentlemanly than intimidation). Mighty probably denies it ever happened. I’m pretty sure he’s a semi-unpleasant relative of Famous Studio’s Herman- and it’s possible this one scene is a stand-in Super Mouse since he’s so out of character. I also love that he used his x-ray vision to see- something that only happens a handful of times in the series. There’s also something really fun about the birds and mice all working together to banish the monster.
I’m especially fond of the color Terrytoons from the early 40s in their character design sensibilities; they retain a little bit of the 30s look as they attempt to be a little more modern. I hope you enjoy this one, and happy early Halloween!