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Felix The Cat in “The Cat and The Kit” (1925)

Here’s a little treat I’d never seen before – and I don’t see it listed in any of the filmographies: a rare ten minute Felix the Cat sponsored short for General Electric. It was preserved by the Schenectady Museum who had it in their General Electric Archive. The film itself is quite good – the story concerns Felix’s midnight drive, to his wedding, in a car without proper GE headlights – and the print is in excellent shape. Animated by Otto Messmer (from 1925, or maybe 1927), The Cat and The Kit:

(Thanks, Scott T. Rivers)

  • The phrase “lost classic” has been diluted by lots of mindless repetition—and an ad film would seem an unlikely candidate for that kind of praise.
    Still, THE CAT AND THE KIT is a remarkably good Felix cartoon, with quite a number of striking (and funny!) special effects, some of them anticipating Messmer’s later billboard animation for Douglas Leigh.
    I’d make an educated guess that while Messmer took most of the SFX-heavy driving sequences, Dana Parker handled a lot of character interaction. We see a lot of Parker’s trademark “flat-bottom” eye design on Felix around the eight-minute mark.
    It’s Felix’s equivalent of Disney’s MICKEY’S SURPRISE PARTY—an ad film produced with the care and style of regular entries in the series.
    As for its date, various aspects of the art (including the design of Felix) lead me to lean toward your later guess of 1927.

    • “The phrase “lost classic” has been diluted by lots of mindless repetition—and an ad film would seem an unlikely candidate for that kind of praise.”

      Hmm, a curious statement. I was always under the impression that In My Merry Oldsmobile, Boy Meets Dog, and A Coach For Cinderella among others were easily classics…and I imagine barely-seen ad cartoons out there might also classify as such.

      • What’s the difference between a good, memorable film—the kind that evokes deserved nostalgia in the years after its first viewing—and a great film, a classic? For me, a classic represents something really special in terms of the film medium: an innovation or historic high mark in storytelling, characterization or effects—a milestone achievement for the filmmaker’s sensibility.
        An ad film, designed primarily to sell a product, is by its very nature subject less to a filmmaker’s sensibility, more to marketers’ whims. An ad person, at least typically, cares more about plugging the product than about storytelling or characterization. This doesn’t mean that an ad film can’t contain great storytelling and characterization; just that it seems less likely to occur than in a film produced solely for entertainment or artistic purposes.

        That said, I’d call IN MY MERRY OLDSMOBILE and the Jam Handy Cinderella shorts classics. The first pushes the envelope for sexy stuff even farther than usual for Fleischer, and the latter is actually a very innovative, clever retelling of the fairy tale that may be drawn a little awkwardly, but easily beats Fleischer’s POOR CINDERELLA for wit, humor and (IMHO) its musical score.

  • Well this is a treat. I’m a big fan of Felix the Cat, and it’s always nice to see another classic film of his. Thanks for the post, Jerry!

  • Thanks Scott Rivers for contributing this cartoon to the Brew! Now the “Complete Felix” DVD project doesn’t look so complete any more!

    • For the record, this rare film has already been optioned by the curators of the forthcoming “Complete Felix” DVD project. So, in reality the project is actually looking MORE complete! ;)

      • The “Complete Felix” DVD Project?? Wow, this is news to me! Will this be the ultimate, special features-filled, restored edition of the original 20s cartoons? Tell us more! :)

      • Bozo

        I agree, please tell us !

  • Just out of curiosity, is there a musical score to go along with the short?

    • Good question!

    • There rarely ever were, originally, for short subjects.

  • Barry Siegel

    When Felix goes to the auto parts store and gets a proper Edison Mazda Headlamp the clerk goes to a chart and picks out a style that has ’27 after it. I take that to mean 1927 style for a 1927 car. (The chart showed all ’27 styles except for one that was ’25). By my way of thinking, this makes this a 1927 cartoon- besides, the style of film looks very similar to the Felix cartoons from that year.

  • DonaldC

    “Carrying moonshine in a car is against the law!”

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Someone in my town was caught making some in his garage recently!

  • Retro00064

    Just watched it. Great short in great condition. Besides old films and cartoons, old electrical stuff is an interest of mine as well. :-)