We take at look at the curious kitties of the silver screen…
The Coen Brothers’ latest film, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is released in Irish cinemas this week. The film features a scene stealing performance from a gorgeous cat, so we decided to take a look back at some of the best feline performances on the big screen…
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
No matter which adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale you prefer, there is little doubt that the Cheshire Cat’s mischievous grin is one you will remember. A little on the odd side, the Cheshire Cat spouts riddles and seemingly confusing advice at Alice, as she journeys through Wonderland, but there is always a grain of sense in the Cheshire Cat’s madness.
The Cheshire Cat – and his floating grin – have captured the public imagination, and have appeared in many different media, including TV shows, music, film and sculpture.
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S
It is often said that a person does not own a cat; instead, the cat owns the person. This is almost certainly true of Cat in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, as he adopts Holly Golightly as much as she does him. In fact, when asked about the cat she refuses to name, Holly says “We just sort of took up by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent, and so am I”. Cat’s lack of name represents Holly’s unwillingness to put down roots, but when she releases him into the wild at the end of the film, she realises her mistake and chases him down; perhaps she is ready to settle down after all.
Cat was played by a feline actor named Orangey, who went on to win the Patsy Award – think Oscars for animals – for his performance in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S.
THE BLACK CAT
There have long been superstitions surrounding cats and evil, and this is brought to the fore in Bela Lugosi’s 1941 film. In the movie the ailing matriarch of an isolated mansion sees black cats as the harbingers of death. As Henrietta Winslow’s (Cecelia Loftus) health fails, a black cat gets into her home, and it is not long before murder follows.
Interestingly, Lugosi starred in two films named THE BLACK CAT, both inspired, to varying degrees, by the story of the same name by Edgar Allen Poe.
The shot of Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) holding a cat as he hears requests on the day of his only daughter’s wedding has become one of the most famous movie images of all time, even though the cat was not originally in the script. Director Francis Ford Coppola found the cat on the set of THE GODFATHER, and simply put it into Marlon Brando’s arms. The cat stole the show – although it nearly drowned out Brando’s dialogue with it’s purring – and has also been accepted as a metaphor for the hidden claws underneath Corleone’s warm façade.
There are hundreds of animated cats on the big screen – from Si and Am in THE LADY AND THE TRAMP, to Lune in THE CAT RETURNS – but one of the bravest, funniest and cutest cats of recent years has to be Puss in Boots from the SHREK franchise. Voiced by Antonio Banderas, Puss in Boots is based on the fairytale character of the same name, but this Puss is a swashbuckling assassin, hired by the King of Far Far Away to get rid of Shrek.
Banderas made Puss as heroic as he was adorable, and the kitty jokes were endearing enough to land Puss his own movie in 2011.
Honourable mentions to: The kitten in LA DOLCE VITA, Jones in ALIEN, Crookshanks from the HARRY POTTER films and Binks in HOCUS POCUS.
Who is your favourite feline? Let us know in the comments below.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is released in Irish cinemas on January 24th
Words: Brogen Hayes