Friday 27 May 2016

Cats Don't Like Castor Oil

A little kitten reacts after licking from a pool of castor oil in the Van Beuren cartoon Rough on Rats (1933). He shakes his head, runs around, jumps in the air, turns a somersault, then runs in perspective past the camera.

It seems like director Harry Bailey was told to make a cartoon like Disney. This features a song by chirping female vocalists, cute characters doing action in pantomime and—pretty standard for the early ‘30s—a menace invading the cartoon half way through only to be vanquished violently by a mob. The only problem was the Van Beuren animators didn’t draw at a Disney level, Bailey doesn’t try to get anything out of poses (I wonder if the Van Beuren artists animated straight-ahead) and Gene Rodemich’s score is strictly for mood and doesn’t accent any specific actions on the screen. Still, it’s an unassuming, unpretentious cartoon with a great ending as the angry, violent, revengeful kittens become mewing and sweet while happy female singers chirp away. The Film Daily rate it “a dandy.” It’s enjoyable to watch.

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