Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Cats in Cinema
Today one of my dinner companions used the word "trickle". He said, "Wasn't the big bailout supposed to trickle down to us?" My other dinner companion responded: "Perhaps we have to lie on our backs and open our mouths really wide." We laughed.
I was drinking a chocolate martini and thinking that I should have used the word "trickle" in my musings about toilets in movies (see yesterday's post). Trickle. The sound of liquids trickling. Not only is it a good word but my grandmother, who was very English, used to use it as her euphemism for urinate. "Do you have to trickle?" she'd ask my sister and me when we were just small. Or she'd simply say, "Trickles?" Just the sound of it made me have to go.
My grandmother's name was Olive Valentine Auchterlonie. Back in the dirty 30s she and her seven children lived across the street from a family called the Allys. Both families had pet cats and the Alleys used to call the Auchterlonie's cat the Auchtopus while the Auchterlonies used to call the Ally's feline the Alley Cat. Which brings me to cats in movies.
My favourite cat movie when I was a kid was The Three Lives of Thomasina. It was full of magic and mystery and a cat that came back from the dead. She didn't really, she was actualy still alive when the kids thought she'd passed and held a funeral for her. The witch in this movie isn't really a witch either. The kids just think she is.
But Bell, Book and Candle had real witches and real magic! Long before there was Harry Potter there was Jack Lemmon as a warlock making the streetlamps of Greenwich Village go off and on in the depths of the hushed night, and Kim Novak casting her spell over James Stewart. They'd starred together earlier that same year ('58) in Vertigo (B, B and C would be Stewart's last romantic lead). Add to that Ernie Kovaks as a famous novelist and Hermoine Gingold at her witchy best and Elsa Lancaster as a witch named Queenie (which incidentally was my grandmother's ncikname) and you've got a heady brew, a cauldron full of surprises and wonder.
Now add to that potion the mysterious powers of the cat. Pyewacket, Kim's beautiful Siamese cat, her faithful familiar. Pyewacket was the cat's real name and she is listed on IMDb as an actress. B,B and C was her only film. But she was brilliant! I named one of my cats after her and she became but one in a long line of my faithful familiars. (More on that later).
And who doesn't remember Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany's? Cat was played by Orangey who won his second Patsy Award (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) for this role. Orangey's first Patsy was for playing a cat named Rhubarb in the 1951 movie of the same name.
Other celluloid cats of note: Tao in The Incredible Journey, Milo from Milo and Otis, Lucifer from Cinderella, Abraham de Lacey Guiseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley, (and all the others) from The Aristocats, Jones from Alien and Aliens.
And my all time favourite top cat of the cinematic world: Baby from Bringing up Baby.