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Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: October 30, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Katnip's Big Day © Paramount‘Katnip’s Big Day’ was the last of the Herman and Katnip cartoons. Fittingly, it’s a cheater, a compilation cartoon with Katnip looking back on his not too illustrious career in a ‘This is your life’-like television program.

Katnip sits on a throne and is visited by his old ‘pals’ Spike, Herman’s cousins (whose names are revealed to be Rubin, Dubin and Louie), Buzzy and Herman himself. They all reminisce how they tricked the poor cat in earlier cartoons, which lead to excerpts from ‘A Bicep Built for Two’ (Spike, 1955), ‘Cat-Choo’ (Buzzy, 1951), ‘Drinks on the Mouse’ (Rubin, Dubin & Louie, 1953) and ‘Mousetro Herman’ (1956).

What the cartoon manages to demonstrate is that Herman and Katnip never were really funny, but that only three years before they at least were well animated. Compared to the archive footage the animation of the actual cartoon looks terribly stiff, lifeless and cheap.

Watch ‘Katnip’s Big Day’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Katnip’s Big Day’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: April 3, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★
Review:

Fun on Furlough © ParamountWith ‘Fun on Furlough’ Herman and Katnip return to the department store scenery of ‘From Mad to Worse‘ (1957).

This time Herman’s cousins are having fun at the toy department until Katnip almost catches them. Then Herman enters, who inexplicably has a three days leave from the army. He reveals that Katnip once had been in the army, too. What follows is a chase sequence with an army theme, using toy soldiers, a toy tank, a toy plane etc. The idea already is preposterous, and the follow-up is hampered by trite and formulaic gags.

Watch ‘Fun on Furlough’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Fun on Furlough’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: February 20, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★
Review:

Felineous Assault © Paramount‘Felineous Assault’ is Famous studio’s variation on Tom & Jerry’s ‘Professor Tom‘ (1948): Katnip teaches his nephew Kitnap how to catch mice.

When Kitnap passes the test with a fake mouse, Katnip orders the little one to catch Herman. But inside the mouse hole Kitnap gets stuck and Herman rescues him. What follows is one long chase sequence in which Katnip tries to catch Herman, while Kitnap makes him fail.

Herman is pretty helpless in this cartoon, which is hampered by angular designs (especially on Katnip), and by stiff and schematic animation. In fact, the little kitten looks and moves better than either Herman or Katnip.

Watch ‘Felineous Assault’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Felineous Assault’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: January 2, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Owly to Bed © ParamountThis cartoon centers on a small owl who starts sleepwalking during daytime. To save him from certain death Herman takes the little fellow home and christens him ‘Hootie’.

Unfortunately, Hootie immediately starts walking out of Herman’s lair to make a nest on Katnip’s back. When Katnip discovers the bird, he tries to catch it and eat it. What follows is a chase cartoons that gets complicated by the fact that Hootie may be blind and helpless during daytime, he sure can see when it’s dark en then he suddenly changes into a violent foe to Katnip.

‘Owly to Bed’ contains one of the most violent takes on Katnip: during one scene we watch him being split in two by Hootie’s axe, and trying to put himself back together again. More interesting than either the violence or the chase, however, is the music that accompanies Hootie’s sleepwalking.

Watch ‘Owly to Bed’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Owly to Bed’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: August 29, 1958
Stars: Herman and Katnip
Rating:
Review:

You Said a Mouseful © Paramount‘You Said a Mouseful’ builds on two ideas: Katnip suddenly is an Italian chef, making pizza, while Herman runs a gym for mice, to keep them in shape enough to escape the cat.

Unfortunately, little Chubby hardly cooperates, eating everything in sight, and Herman has to rescue the brat repeatedly. Surprisingly, in the end little Chubby saves Herman by telling Katnip they’re Italian, too, and the cartoon ends with Katnip and the mice dancing around a pizza.

There’s very little to enjoy in ‘You Said a Mouseful’. Chubby is clearly modeled on Nibbles, the hungry orphan mouse Jerry adopts in the Tom & Jerry ‘The Milky Waif’ (1946), and who appeared in ten cartoons in total, up to 1957. Chubby hardly shares Nibbles’ charm, however, and the cartoon is hampered by rather cliche chase routines. Little is done with Katnip’s sudden Italian roots, except for him singing in mock-Italian. The whole cartoon looks like a poor man’s Tom & Jerry short.

The best gag may be when Katnip lures Chubby with help from a very large spaghetti string, the most violent one is when Herman puts Katnip’s hands into a toaster. This makes a painful watch indeed.

Watch ‘You Said a Mouseful’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘You Said a Mouseful’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: August 16, 1957
Stars: Herman and Katnip
Rating: ★★
Review:

From Mad to Worse © Paramount‘From Mad to Worse’ takes place at a department store, where Katnip is a night guard.

We watch Herman and his cousins playing with a toy train in the toy department. When Katnip tries to catch them, Herman and his fellow mice play tricks on the cat, making him think he has gone mad, much like Hubie and Bertie did to Claude Cat in the Chuck Jones cartoon ‘Mouse Wreckers‘ (1949). Katnip even goes to a psychiaCATrist (got it?).

Compared to Chuck Jones’s cartoon, ‘From Mad to Worse’ is a rather tiresome experience. The short is surprisingly dialogue-rich, hampering the gags, and in this short Herman ‘quotes’ Confucius twice, turning into a stereotyped China-man while doing so. The animation is full, but mediocre. In fact the cartoon’s highlight is the cartoon modern background art, especially the background paintings of the first scenes are very beautiful.

Watch ‘From Mad to Worse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘From Mad to Worse’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: September 18, 1942
Stars: Superman
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Japoteurs © ParamountNo sooner were the Fleischer brothers removed from their own studio, or their stars Superman and Popeye were fully put to the war effort.

No other American cartoon stars featured in as many propaganda shorts fighting the foe. Superman stars in five, of which ‘Japoteurs’ is the first.

In this entry three Japanese spies try to steal the world’s largest bomber on its test flight. Of course, Lois flies along, and both she and the plane have to be rescued by Superman.

‘Japoteurs’ is an unfortunate cartoon, which adds to the idea of a fifth column of Japanese within The United States, making every Japanese person suspicious. Indeed, due to this type of paranoia, during the war no less than 110,000 Japanese Americans, including women and children, were put into internment camps.

This is Superman film No. 10
To the previous Superman film: Terror on the Midway
To the next Superman film: Showdown

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