A different take on the famous novel by Lewis Carroll, Disney’s Alice is the protagonist of a druggy, baroque movie: the adventures of the blond little girl are studded with disturbing encounters and mysterious symbolisms, a far cry from the reassuring canon of Disney films from the 1950s. One of the standout characters is the rotund version of the Cheshire Cat, who, with his pink and purple coat and hypnotic smile, accompanies Alice in the meanderings of her subconscious.
His name is Pyewacket; he is siamese, and he has blue eyes and magic powers. He strolls through Greenwich Village with his very sexy owner, who loves to walk around barefoot and is a witch: Kim Novak. Together, they make a certain James Stewart fall in love, while Jack Lemmon, who is a warlock, plays the bongos at all hours of the day and can turn off street lamps through his power of thought. Directed by Richard Quine, an elegant, ironical and sophisticated romantic comedy, just like the cat who is the undisputed and impassive protagonist.
In the midst of his delirious gore trilogy (Fear in the City of the Living Dead, And You Will Live in Terror: The Beyond, and The House Outside the Cemetery), Fulci bases himself vaguely on the short story The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe for a mediumistic mystery movie from a cat’s point of view, set in a sleepy English town, between fog and zooms. With some of the Gotha of Italian fanta-thrillers (Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver, Dagmar Lassander) and a crazed Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange, Marat-Sade).
The first of the three “haikus” by Chris Marker from the series Bestiaire (1990). A tabby cat snoozes on a pianola, his eyes and ears reacting to piano music coming from a speaker. A suspended bubble, in which photography, keyboard, musical scores, paws and vibrations blend together and create a possible interior world of one of the most mysterious and fascinating animals around. A Warholian gaze, but also pleasure in the open, partial, suspended fragment.
The cat Rhubarb is the true star of this film. Not only is he the protagonist of the story which sees him go from foundling to millionaire when his rich owner decides to leave his baseball team to the cat in his will; Rhubarb is also the linchpin of Paramount’s commercial strategy, which spins the entire operation around him, starting with the movie’s title. Besides the legendary Orangey, the most famous russet cat in Hollywood, thirty-five other cats were also used to play Rhubarb.
One night, Tabitha, a peaceful tabby cat, is a witness to her owner’s murder and, furious, she begins to avoid the murderers, who, along with their accomplices, decide to get rid of the inconvenient witness. An unequal fight which pits six humans against one cat, traps, tricks, feline points of view, in a gothic thriller set in Victorian England, directed by John Gilling (a minor maestro of B-horror movies, who directed the cults The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies).