Monday, 12 January 2009

Cordell Barker "The Cat Came Back"

The Cat Came Back by Canadian director Cordell Barker is a full blooded comic romp based on the 19th century song by Harry S Miller: "But the cat came back/ the very next day,/ Oh, the cat came back,/ they thought he was a goner,/ but the cat came back,/ he just wouldn't stay away." Drawn in the surreal, exaggerated manner of the comic strip cartoonist, Cordell's animation has Mr Johnson expending his considerable energy attempting to dispose of the yellow cat left at his doorstep. For a short time it is wooed by its would-be owner until the full extent of the cat's voracious appetite for tearing up all things domestic is revealed. Increasingly desperate, our hapless hero drives, flies and floats in a vain attempt to put distance between him and the feline foe. There are sufficient comic moments to cheer even the most dour heart: side by side on the runaway train, the pair slice helpless figures tied to the rails; the hot air balloon takes only one of them on a journey to the stars; and just when the blessed cat is most needed, Mr Johnson is trapped in a pit with a host of rats, and where is the beast when he is most needed? Answer - wrecking the poor guy's home. Sufficient gags to adorn a Tex Avery movie this is classic cartooning, over-the-top and hilarious. It was produced for the National Film Board of Canada and lost out to Pixar's "Tin Toy" in the battle for the Oscar; and a new era dawned when an alternative to pencil in hand was ushered in. Traditional hand drawn animation is not so readily dismissed however as Cordell's marvellous short testifies.

1 comment:

Liam said...

I love it. Classic.

I still use it as an example of an animated short that many recognise, outside of their shallower view of Disney and WB.