Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Overlooked Films: FRANKENSTEIN'S CAT and WOLF! WOLF!

Here are just two of the many great films featuring my all-time favorite cartoon star.

In the beginning, with his debut in the 1942 film "The Mouse of Tomorrow," he was billed as Supermouse, wearing a blue suit and red cape just like you-know-who. But after half a dozen films he morphed into the yellow-suit, red-cape guy we know as Mighty Mouse.

Seems to me there were about 60 theatrical cartoon produced between 1942 and 1961. I used to have a list, and in the 80s I taped hundreds of hours of kiddy cartoon shows until I had them all. My favorites are the operettas, in which Mighty must rescue the brave Pearl Trueheart from the dastardly Oil Can Harry while belting out their lines in song.

Mighty battles Oil Can Harry

In 1987, Ralph Bashki produced a short-lived series called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse. It was stylish, and had a groovy updated version of the stirring theme song, but failed to capture the spirit of the old Terrytoons.

Rumor has it that Nickelodeon is working on a feature film, to be done either in full or partial CGI, and followed by a new CGI TV series. It's also rumored than an officially licensed DVD collection of the Terrytoons films will be available soon. We'll see.

In Frankenstein's Cat (1942), he's still wearing the blue suit, and still lives in a "Super" market, getting his powers by eating super cheese. You'll note the narrator's voice changes when he introduces "Mighty Mouse," because in the original version he said "Supermouse." The picture quality in this YouTube version sucks, but may allow you to imagine what the original film looked like.

Frankenstein's Cat (1942)

"Wolf! Wolf!" is one of the transitional films, where Mighty is trying out a red suit and yellow cape. These soon gave way to the familiar costume shown in the lobby card above. The climactic battle with the wolves is a classic!

Wolf! Wolf! (1944)

Do not fail to visit Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom for links to more of today's Overlooked Films & Whatnot.


Deka Black said...

Mighty Mouse! here in Spain many kids grew up with his adventures. (We called him "Super Raton" (means "Super mouse"). Wow, how many memories bring this to me. Thanks! :D

G. B. Miller said...

Mighty Mouse is very kewl.

I thought that the new version that came out in the 80's was okay, especially when it got loads of controversy when it showed MM sniffing a flower to supposedly get his strength from.

Cap'n Bob said...

All it needed was a "Here I come to save the day." It's sad to know that this kind of animation will never be done again. Limited animation and computer animation can't hold a candle to work like this.
Side note: I have some MM Christmas tree decorations that I put up every year.

Anonymous said...

Another great thing about the Bakshi series was a secondary superhero named Bat-bat. He was a bat who dressed up like a bat to fight crime.

Dan Luft

Todd Mason said...

An interesting development, these little operettas, from the earlier post-silent trope that wanted all cartoons to be musical...I'll always be reminded of Andy Kaufman, as I discovered both at about the same time, but these have been good fun through the years after THE UNCLE GUS SHOW...

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