Scaredy Cat
Scaredy Cat Titles.jpg
Title card
Directed byCharles M. Jones
Story byMichael Maltese[1]
Produced byEdward Selzer
StarringMel Blanc
Music byCarl Stalling
Animation byLloyd Vaughan
Ken Harris
Phil Monroe
Ben Washam
Abe Levitow (uncredited)
A.C. Gamer (effects animation) (uncredited)
Layouts byRobert Gribbroek
Backgrounds byPeter Alvarado
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release dates
December 18, 1948 (US)
June 2, 1956 (US reissue)
Running time
7:25
LanguageEnglish

Scaredy Cat is a 1948 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Chuck Jones.[2] The short was released on December 18, 1948 and stars Porky Pig and Sylvester.[3]

Plot

Porky Pig purchases a new home from a real estate agent, which turns out to be an old Gothic-style house. His pet cat Sylvester is frightened of the creepy-looking place, but Porky finds it "quaint" and "peaceful" and looks forward to his first night there. Sylvester is already holding onto the bottom of Porky's coat, unwilling to let go, when he is spooked by a bat and jumps inside the coat. Porky chastises him for being afraid of the bat and says he is going upstairs to bed while Sylvester will sleep in the kitchen. Unknown to Porky, Sylvester clings to him all the way to the bedroom and into bed. When Porky discovers him in the bed, he kicks him down the stairs, telling him to stay in the kitchen. Suddenly, Sylvester sees that the house is overrun with murderous mice who in the process of carting off the previous owners' cat to be decapitated by an executioner mouse. Alarmed, Sylvester races upstairs and hides in Porky's nightshirt. Porky begins scolding Sylvester, who interrupts this by demonstrating (in mime) what occurred downstairs. Porky criticizes the "ridiculous acting" and orders Sylvester back to the kitchen. Too frightened to comply, Sylvester pulls a gun from a dresser drawer and prepares to shoot himself in the head rather than face whatever fate the mice have in store for the pair. Porky disarms him and cannot believe how desperate his cat is.

Realizing he has no choice, Porky allows Sylvester to share the bed. Four mice push the bed out of the window and it sticks on a pole. Porky, half-asleep and thinking it is cold in the room, asks Sylvester to close the window. Sylvester proceeds to do so, himself barely awake and walking on thin air, as the pole springs the bed back into the room. Sylvester closes a tiny curtain on a birdhouse, gets back into the bed that is not there and falls to the ground. He comes through the bedroom door with a big lump on his head. At that moment, he sees that the mice are about to drop an anvil on Porky from a crawlspace above the bed. Sylvester grabs the anvil at the last moment. Porky awakes and sees Sylvester poised above him with it in his hands. Porky questions Sylvester's intentions before dropping it on the cat's head and leading the way back down the stairs, heading for the kitchen. Sylvester sees the hooded mouse roll a bowling ball down the banister, targeted directly at Porky, who has reached the bottom. Sylvester races and shoves Porky out of the way - so hard he ends up in the kitchen headfirst in the cat basket - and is knocked unconscious by the ball.

Porky storms back from the kitchen (not noticing the basket being lowered below the floor) demanding to know why Sylvester pushed him. Seeing the cat knocked out, Porky suggests it is just a ploy to gain sympathy. Over the next few scenes, as he lifts Sylvester, carries him to the kitchen and puts him in the basket, a completely oblivious Porky barely escapes many attempts, via several tools and weapons, by the mice to kill him. Sylvester, out cold in the basket, is lowered below the floor just after 1:00 A.M. and is raised up again just before 4:00 A.M., without the basket and having turned completely light gray. Traumatized, he makes his way to Porky's room where he startles the pig awake with his gruesome appearance. Finally at his wits' end, Porky drags him downstairs, and goes into the kitchen by himself to show Sylvester there is nothing to fear. After a few seconds of silence, Sylvester looks in the kitchen and sees the mice parading as they did the cat, only now it is Porky, bound and gagged and on his way to be decapitated. As the mice take him away, Porky holds up a sign which reads "YOU WERE RIGHT, SYLVESTER".

Terrified, Sylvester scrambles out of the house. As he rests to catch his breath, his conscience (a miniature Sylvester wearing a wizard's robe and carrying a star-tipped wand) appears. He magically produces an easel on which the word "coward" is written; then, with diagrams and charts, he reminds Sylvester how Porky raised him from a kitten, shows him the "comparative sizes" of a cat to a mouse and demands that he return to the house to take action. Reinvigorated, Sylvester grabs a tree branch for use as a weapon, then decides to use the whole tree instead and races back into the mouse-infested house to fight. He sends the hundreds of murderous mice running for their lives, much to his conscience's delight.

With the mice now all supposedly gone for good, Porky graciously apologizes to Sylvester and thanks him for saving his life. One leftover mouse (the executioner) pops out of the longcase clock behind Sylvester, wielding a mallet. Seeing this, Porky yells at Sylvester to look out, but the mouse clobbers Sylvester on the head, knocking him unconscious, much to Porky's shock. The mouse then yanks off his hood, revealing a Lew Lehr caricature with a Napoleon army hat, and declares, "Pussycats is the cwaziest peoples!" and chuckles.

Reception

Animator Yvette Kaplan writes, "The enormously amusing Scaredy Cat, from director Chuck Jones and writer Mike Maltese, is a near perfect cartoon. Porky and Sylvester are a clown-and-straight-man duo on par with any you can think of. And though it's Porky, the straight man, who gets top billing in the opening title card, the wordless clown, Sylvester, steals the show...The more obvious Sylvester's torment, in fact, the more oblivious Porky becomes — and the funnier the gags."[4]

Home video

Notes

References

  1. ^ Beck, Jerry (1991). I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat: Fifty Years of Sylvester and Tweety. New York: Henry Holt and Co. p. 96. ISBN 0-8050-1644-9.
  2. ^ Beck, Jerry; Friedwald, Will (1989). Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Co. p. 193. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2.
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 124–126. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry, ed. (2020). The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons. Insight Editions. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-64722-137-9.