Sunday, November 10, 2013

Film Classics of the 20th Century

So far in this series, we've looked at Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings.

movie montage

Oh, Justin, Miley, Selena, you just don't get it.

As under-18s you were pikers, you had no real accomplishments -- not when contrasted with the ultimate child star of the second half of the 20th century Haley Mills.


Long before Haley was 18, she'd won a Golden Globe, an Academy Award and a BAFTA.

The star of Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, The Trouble With Angels and many other films was at her finest in 1965's That Darn Cat!  First off, there were no lying parents hiding siblings or each other.


But mainly, it's that this is the best script and best cast Walt Disney ever put together for a Hayley Mills film.  Hayley was 19 when the film was released and it was the last theatrical film she made for Disney so far (she has done TV movies for Disney).

The cast included Dean Jones in the only film he ever made where he had chemistry with his leading lady  Dorothy Provine (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World).  Also in the cast Roddy McDowell, the great Elsa Lanchester (the bride in Bride of Frankenstein, Kim Novack and Jack Lemmon's aunt in Bell, Book and Candle). Frank Gorshin (TV's  Riddler on Batman) and William Demarest (My Three Sons) among others.

Mainly there's DC -- "darn cat."  Two Siamese play the part of DC.


The performance is also aided by Bobby Darin's seductive performance of the title track Robert and Richard Sherman wrote for the film.

While the city sleeps, ev'rey night he creeps
Just surveyin' his domain
He roams around like he owns the town
He's the king, he makes that plain 

DC, on his rounds, ends up at an apartment complex as he follows Iggy (Frank Gorshin) and the smell of Iggy's groceries.  Iggy enters the apartment where Dan (Neville Brand) is waiting with their hostage Margaret Miller (Grayson Hall).  Miller is a bank employee and Iggy and Dan took her hostage when they robbed her bank.  While the two men argue, Miller slips off her watch and puts it around DC like a collar.  She shoos DC out of the apartment.


DC belongs to sisters Patty (Mills) and Ingrid (Provine).  Patti's convinced the watch is the watch of the missing woman from the bank robbery.  Ingrid trapped in a boring relationship (McDowell) has other things on her mind.

Patty goes to the FBI where an agent (Dean Jones) takes her musing seriously.

Will Margaret be rescued?

Will Patty save the day?


This is Disney, so you know it ends happy.   But before you get to that point, you'll have laughed with some of the best humor Disney produced in the sixties.

And you should play close attention to Canoe.  As Patty's boyfriend, Tom Lowell creates the ultimate man-child and you have to wonder if Charlie or Alan Harper would ever have existed decades later if Lowell's Canoe Henderson hadn't paved the way first.








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