Mouse-merised Cat (1946)
Director: Robert McKimson
Writer: Warren Foster
Animation: Art Davis, Richard Bickenbach, Cal Dalton, Don Williams, A. C. Gamer
Voice Characterisation: Mel Blanc and Tedd Pierce
Musical Director: Carl W Stalling
Cast: Babbit and Catstello, Unnamed cat.
Date of release: October 19, 1946
The final Babbit and Catstello feature, sees the short lived duo as mice again.
An interesting although completely pointless zoom in from outer-space to the state of Mouseachewsetts down to the city skyscrapers, through the shop window of Flugers Delicatessen and across the shop to the waiting figure of Catstello leaning in the opening of a mouse hole. “I thought you’d never get here” he says.
As in A Tale of Two Mice. Catstello is reluctant to the leave the comfort of the skirting board because of the cat. The manipulative Babbit uses a big red book with the words “How To Hypnotize” on the cover to mesmerise Catstello. Babbit fires laser beams of hypnotic power from his eyes!
At first Babbit’s attempts to control the cowardly Catstello meet with failure. Babbit cruelly beats Babbit again and again. I am reminded of how popular physically violence to weaker characters was during the 30s and 40s. Hardy beating Laurel, Harpo Marx being beaten in A Night at the Opera and of course Abbott’s continuous beating of Costello. I find the violence in this short a little sickening.
Finally Babbit succeeds in hypnotising Catstello, even after the hapless mouse fails in a number of avoidance tactics such as reading “How to Resist Hypnotism”, jumping behind a brick to find cover, wearing goggles and even a welders mask. Finally Babbit’s eye-beams become hands that remove the visor and subdue Catsello. There’s a lovely animated turn were Catstello walks zombie-like towards the camera and turns. Babbit zaps Catstello and he becomes Bing Crosby complete with Hawaiian shirt and pipe. “Oh you must have been a beautiful baby”, Frank Sinatra characterised by Catstello holding up a board with a huge bow tie and a stick-man body, again singing “Down Where the Trade Winds Play” as seen in Babbit and Catstello’s last cameo appearance in “Hollywood Canine Canteen” in 1945 and Jimmy Durante singing “Lullaby of Broadway”. When Catstello is hypnotised into believing that he is a chicken he even manages to lay an egg. Finally Babbit is satisfied that Catstello is under his control and hypnotises him into believing that he is a dog.
There’s a great Tex Avery style moment when the Cat believing that he is being chased by a dog, is so surprised when he sees the little mouse barking away that he eyes pop clean out of his head.
At the critical moment the trance wears off and Catstello goes running back to Babbit chased by the furious cat.
Babbit sends Catstello out again as a dog but the cat has also mastered the art of hypnotism, having digested the discarded book. A tennis match of hypnotised Catstello running backwards and forwards between Babbit and the Cat occurs.
Finally Catstello succeeds in turning the tables and produces a mirror whereby the Cat and Babbit hypnotise themselves and Catstello suggests that they are the Lone ranger and his trusty horse Silver. Catstello is even given a voice not at all dissimilar to Yosemite Sam by Mel Blanc.
The cheese munching Catstello admits to being a “Bad Boy” over another mouthful of cheese,. All in all a fair ending to one of animations dead-ends. Farewell Babbit and Catstello!