THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 13, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Thunderbean Thursday: Frankenstein’s Cat (1942)

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!

17 Comments

  • “What didja do wit’ da boid?”

    Seeing as “Frankenstein’s Cat” was only the second Super Mouse cartoon, it’s not surprising that the character wasn’t yet fully defined. Here, he’s more Leo Gorcey than Caruso. In Terrytoons of the early ’40s, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella can sound like Fran Drescher, and I find it charming.

    “Frankenstein’s Cat” is one of several Mighty Mouse cartoons with literary antecedents, including “Jekyll and Hyde Cat”, “Svengali’s Cat”, “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, “Swiss Cheese Family Robinson”, and “The Trojan Horse”. Then there was “Eliza on the Ice”, Terry’s take on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, in which Mighty Mouse rescues Eliza and her baby from Simon Legree and takes them… back to the plantation, while our hero whoops it up in heaven with a very coquettish Little Eva. Lord have mercy….

    The weirdest thing about that Ken Films box is that absolutely nothing in the illustration can be found anywhere in “Frankenstein’s Cat”. It could almost be a scene from an unmade sequel, “Bride of Frankenstein’s Dog”.

  • i have this (in S8), too!! I adore it. I, too, am always flabbergasted at how (devastatingly) bad the cover-art is, lol

  • What a great early Super Mouse, always loved the animation in this one. Beggers can’t be choosers, but I would to see more of the earlier ones with Super Mouse titles and dialogue, but I’m not holding it against this nice scan (and since they’re hard to come by). Can’t wait to get the special sets!

  • What’s up with that 8mm package?

    Mighty is supposed to rescue Pearl Pureheart, not Minnie Mouse, lol.

  • Whoever was responsible for that “Frankenstein’s Cat” box did a lot of similarly off-model artwork for Ken’s animation releases. Toward the end, Ken released a handful of cartoons in color and with sound, but most of their catalog remained silent and in black and white. How could that compete with videocassettes?

    Aside from Terrytoons, Ken also had cartoons from Warner Bros. Also some Fleischer Popeye’s. Most of the Popeye’s were 50-foot editions that had been kicking around since the ’30s. You got three on a 200-foot reel.

    Back when I used to collect those things, it annoyed me how often prints were missing their leader and the first few frames of the main title, lost to wear and tear and careless handling. My dad taught me how to attach leader to the head and tail of a print to prevent that from happening, but not everyone’s dad was as vigilant as mine was about maintaining even 8mm prints in the best possible condition.

    Ken’s prints were never as good as Castle or Blackhawk, but they were infinitely better than the junk put out by Carnival/Atlas.

  • I’ve always loved “Frankenstein’s Cat” for its blend of visual sumptuousness and Terrytoons strangeness. The odd, echo-y soundtrack, the meticulous animation, the beautiful backgrounds, Mighty Mouse with a Brooklyn accent giving a monster the third degree, and that final shot of Frankenstein’s Cat running over the horizon that looks like it was traced from a silent Farmer Al Falfa cartoon. You can practically hear Paul Terry in the story session for this one rattling off the basic plot elements (“.. and then all the mice and birds try to storm the castle, see, but he’s throwing these boulders down at ’em..”) and then telling everyone to find room for some gags. Great cartoon.

  • That print accidentally sat at my house for the better part of a year because it was accidentally sent back to me in a Cinevent/Columbus Moving Picture Show mix-up. Give Stewart my regards.

  • Mighty Mouse saves da boid! Hooray!😂😂😂
    Great cartoon!

  • Perfect timing! I recently uploaded to YouTube a Ken Films preview, and Frankensteins Cat was one of the previews. Now I get to see the whole cartoon!
    Previews: https://youtu.be/GDHWUc4mwJ0

  • Nice!!! As per your post that you’re keeping sending special sets…where are they? Sincerely i will appreciate when my pre-orders of TECHNICOLOR PRIZES, HARMAN-ISING RARITIES, 1941 ANIMATED FEATURE (2pre-orders on this one), AESOP FABLES…and 2 FLIPS dated 7/2016 and 7/2021 will be ready to ship…I know you’re working on the Flip ones…very understanding the time it’s taking…but would like to know on orders #9782,7553,5413,6037…All the best; Martin

  • Note that MM still resides in a Super Market, but now his power comes not from a Super Product lifestyle but from Limburger cheese (I was fully expecting a bad breath gag). Also, he seems to have an ordinary mouse alter ego.

    Ah, those Ken Film boxes. The art on the live action releases had the same look, by possibly the same painter. One wonders if that worthy was genuinely awful, or just knocking them out insanely fast for pittance each. Almost a pity they used a photo on their one-reel “Star Wars”, since the painted version would have been something to see.

  • This was my favorite cartoon in the Mighty Mouse series. Also, this was my first Mighty Mouse cartoon and my first exposure to the Frankenstein mythos.
    However, with the electricity coming out of his fingers, do you think the folks at Toho got the idea for Kong’s superpower in KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962)?

  • I remember the Mighty Mouse show on CBS in the early 60s. I was never that impressed with Mighty Mouse, but there was a limited amount of shows to watch. The quality of the animation wasn’t great, but every once in a while they would mix in a toon from the early 40s. Even at that young age I was enough of an animation connoisseur to see how much better they looked.

  • Tytla’s Cat does a Talos here! Great cartoon. Terry’s films still looked pretty bad in this era, though.

  • Wait sorry, I got confused with Mr. Jekyll’s Cat.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this cartoon. I do remember seeing it on CBS is “Mighty Mouse Playhouse“, or whatever the actual title of the show was called. I just remember it from Saturday morning.

    I would love to get this Halloween “special“ set that you’re talking about. Yet, I can’t remember whether I already ordered it. Do you actually have my order on file, if I did? If not, is there is still a possibility that I can order it?

    • Hi Kevin– you did order it!

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