222. Kit for Cat – Friz Freleng

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SUMMARY: Sylvester battles against a kitten for the right to stay in Elmer Fudd’s house.

WHY IT’S HERE: Friz Freleng’s ‘Kit for Cat’ is a largely forgotten classic. One of my favourite Freleng cartoons, it pits Sylvester against an unnamed orange kitten as they vie for the position of Elmer Fudd’s pet. Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce have come up with a corking script filled with unexpected gags as Sylvester tries to make the kitten look bad and only succeeds in incriminating himself. I’ve always preferred Sylvester’s appearances without the comedically draining presence Tweety and ‘Kit for Cat’ is a perfect example of how hilarious the red-nosed cat is when not forced into the constrictive role of birdnapper. ‘Kit for Cat’ features Sylvester at his most well rounded. The reactions and expressions he goes through are constantly hilarious (just look at the way his face droops into genuine sadness and resignation when he is caught tampering with Elmer’s light) and thus the audience roots for him over the smug kitten despite the extreme lengths he’s willing to go to in order to get rid of the little pest. Elmer is also great in this cartoon, playing the good-hearted but stern authority figure to a tee. It all builds to a sensational climax involving a player piano, a murderous radio show and a firearm that keeps changing hands. This is Freleng at the top of his game and those who are willing to write him off as a less interesting director need only look to this stunning sequence for prove to the contrary. The final punchline is also unexpected and an extremely refreshing alternative to the Sylvester-gets-ejected conclusion most people will be expecting. All in all, ‘Kit for Cat’ is a beautiful example of a director at his very best and is up there with ‘Yankee Doodle Daffy’ as some of Freleng’s best work.

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