Monday 18 June 2012

Scaredy Cat and Fake Cat

Tex Avery’s eye-popping takes are well-known to any cartoon watcher, especially since they were imitated by just about every other studio for awhile. But Tex had a scare-take with fur standing on end. He used it as a running gag in ‘Ventriloquist Cat’ (1950).

The story (by Rich Hogan) is pretty simple. The mangy cat that appeared in Avery’s cartoons around this time is picked on by Spike the dog. The cat finds a ventriloquist’s kit and uses it to throw his voice, leading Spike into a bunch of funny, familiar Avery gags. The takes are on ones, as the characters hover and shudder in mid-air. Some of the takes have two different drawings of fur on end, others have four.

Eventually, the cat makes Boyer-type love to Spike disguised (rather poorly) as a cat. Spike’s cat head comes off. Time for the take.

Spike chases the cat past some dogs. Spike tries to convince the dogs he’s a dog, too, but the cat keeps throwing his voice into Spike’s mouth. The dogs get set to pounce. Cue the take.

The cat meow-laughs because he conned the dogs. The dogs suddenly hear the cat meowing and go over to get revenge for being suckered. Cue the take. Whoever the animator is then has the cat turn 180 degrees in perspective and zoom out of camera range, being chased by the pack of dogs.

Dashing up a telephone pole, the cat realises he’s not safe. That’s where the dogs chased Spike. Cue the take.

Mike Lah, Grant Simmons and Walt Clinton are the credited animators.


  1. The terrified look on Spike's face as he's chased by the pack of dogs never fails to crack me up.

  2. The wildly expanding fur seems to be Tex's replacement for his earlier 'surprise' takes, when characters' entire bodies would fly apart. And the reactions here read better, IMHO, in their original black & tan colorings than in the orange & white ones used in the remake (which brings up the question of who decided to recolor the characters for CinemaScope?)