fritzcat fritzcat

Rare Footage of Bakshi working on Fritz the Cat

This 1970 German documentary on Robert Crumb contains rare footage of Ralph Bakshi in his studio during the making of Fritz the Cat. Young Ralph is shown in the studio, walking through New York and looking at one of his animators flip through drawings. The documentary was loaded onto YouTube in three parts (embeded below) and is NSFW (not safe for work, due to naked hippies). Bakshi first appears a little after 6:30 in part one:

(Thanks, Rogelio Toledo)

  • Donald C

    How odd. I’m doing a report about him right now.

  • Very interesting. It would help if I actually spoke German, but the pictures and film clips were nice. It was cool to see how Bakshi put the film together. I noticed that it wasn’t until the end of the show that we actually got to hear Crumb speak himself. The rest was just little things that you had to pay attention to in order to hear.

    Wow, those hippies were crazy. I could just hear them saying, “Oh yeah, the peyote is kicking in.”

  • But today Crumb hates that movie with a burning passion !!!

  • diego c

    Ralph looks quite happy.

  • Crumb hates everything that isn’t Olde Tyme with a burning passion, his opinion on Bakshi’s film is no different.

  • Poor Crumb, Poor Bakshi… Poor us with no subtitles!

  • Thank you Jerry for posting this. I love just about everything related to Ralph Bakshi.

    It’s too bad Crumb hates the film. It may not be what he envisioned, but it’s still a pretty good movie.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Gah. Why is everything from the 70’s look like every “last known photo” I’ve ever seen?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Seems like every photo in my album is ‘last known’ too!

    Cool documentary though.

  • Professor Widebottom

    I don’t blame Crumb for disliking the Fritz movie or for resenting Hollywood. If you listen to his reasoning, like in the “Crumb” documentary, he articulates his case very well and it has always made sense to me. I see Crumb as an artist in the true sense; I see Bakshi more as a pimp who likes to wear “counter-culture” on his sleeve, as no other gimmick would have lifted him in the public eye. Sorry.

  • Billy Batz

    Awesome! TRhanks for posting this! Good to see a young Crumb working in his studio!

  • Emily

    Really cool! I also wish I could have heard some parts of the dialogue, but it was great anyways.

  • Dock Miles

    Think the “Fritz” credits get it exactly right —

    “Directed by Ralph Bakshi”

    “Characters created by R. Crumb”

    In short, this is completely Bakshi’s presentation of fictional figures invented by someone else. Problem is, Bakshi’s additions to Crumb’s basics are … not much, to say the least.

    According to Crumb:

    “It would have been one thing if it stuck accurately to my vision, or if Bakshi had a clear vision of his own and made something that was good but different like Disney did with *Alice in Wonderland*. But Bakshi’s film was confused and garbled, and I felt compelled to kill Fritz, because he was my character and they had done something with him that I didn’t like.”

    But Crumb has never closed off Fritz entirely. After all, he has a cameo appearance in the Garden of Eden in the illustrated *Genesis*.

  • troy joseph reyes

    ah new york in the early seventies! i was there and i can still smell the garbage! i want allowed to see the fritz the cat movie back then, still havent seen it, thanks for the clip! as for the baski/crumb feud, i gotta go with crumb! it was hit character, his vision, bashki used it to establish street cred for himself and make headway into the hollywood system, it never quite worked out for him but his boldness kept animation moving at a time when it seemed dead.

  • Yeah, “Fritz the Cat” was a bit confused and garbled in terms of how the characters were presented. Ralph did much better when he was working with his own characters, such as “Heavy Traffic” or “Coonskin”. However, I don’t think Crumb need to have been so nasty towards Bakshi. In my opinion, I think it was two different artistic minds clashing that made the film not work as a whole.

  • Mervyn

    Amazing to see Crumb that young. The early 1970’s were another planet.

  • messy

    Actually, if you compare the film with the original comix, Bakshi did a relatively faithful job.

  • ZAR

    Ah, I remember that documentary. Very nice! Sometimes even we Germans get something special from our television. ;)

    On the other hand Crumb’s work and most of the other Underground comics were (are) big sellers to a certain audience and thus there was (is) an interest in those artists.

    Regarding Crumb and Bakshi… there are not too many authors that are really satisfied with the translation of their material to the big screen.

    On the other hand Bakshi helped Crumb to become even more famous – which he didn’t like, but it gave him enough money in the end to do whatever he wanted.

    Call Bakshi whatever you like, but tell me who else could have pulled it off back then?


  • Dock Miles

    “On the other hand Bakshi helped Crumb to become even more famous – which he didn’t like, but it gave him enough money in the end to do whatever he wanted.”

    This seems off-base to me. The filmmaker that made Crumb semi-famous semi-permanently was Terry Zwigoff with his bio-documentary. Crumb went into financial eclipse and drifted off the popular-culture charts as the ’70s wore on. Not forgotten, he was nevertheless quite low-profile indeed until the 1994 film took off.

  • Charles

    Crumb has every right to criticize Bakshi’s film adaptation of his comic work. Afterall, Fritz was a figment of his own imagination and creative powers. I’m a keen admirer of Bakshi and Crumb. Both are geniuses in their own right.

    Cross your fingers Criterion releases Zwigoff’s acclaimed CRUMB film on DVD with this German documentary as a bonus feature. I submitted a title suggestion on their web site. lol.

    Thanks for posting this video, Jerry.