Friday 20 February 2009

Sylvester the Cat Cartoon

Sylvester the Cat Cartoon is one of the most popular. He is a Warner Brothers cartoon star. He is well known for his lisping and bird craving! In fact, it is his lisping that makes us remember him. He's a black and white cat, a very commonly encountered type of mixed breed or random bred cat in the real world. Sylvester made his debut in 1945 in Life with Feathers.  One of the visitors to YouTube summarizes the plot quite well:

Life with Feathers is a 1945 Merrie Melodies cartoon starring Sylvester and an unnamed love bird. A love bird is kicked out of the cage by his wife and decides to kill himself by getting a cat to eat him. But the cat refuses, believing him to be a poisonous bird. But when the cat finally decides to eat him, the bird changes his mind.

It is not possible to show that video here. Many or nearly all of the YouTube videos of Sylvester the Cat have been removed by YouTube for breach of copyright. There has been a cleanup! However, here is one that remains for an unknown reason:

The now famous Sylvester the cat cartoon phrase, "Sufferin' succotash" is used for the first time when the cat sees the love bird. At the time Sylvester is strolling down a line of trash cans selecting tasty morsels of waste food and placing them on an upturned trash can lid as if he was at a buffet in a restaurant. In this first cartoon short, the usual order of things, cat chasing bird, is turned upside down. The bird, "a henpecked parakeet"1 wants to commit suicide and the cat refuses to oblige and eat the bird.

In the next film things go back to normal, when Sylvester chases a woodpecker. The cartoon film is called, Peck up Your Troubles and was made in 1945. Sylvester gets into trouble in this one as the woodpecker is very resourceful. The woodpecker chips away at the branch that Sylvester is on and his stilts get pecked at. Sylvester eventually blows himself up using the dynamite intended for the woodpecker.

There followed, Kitty Kornered (1946) and Tweetie Pie (1947). In Tweetie Pie the cat is called Thomas, in fact (strange). The plot and style of the Sylvester cartoon character in the Tweetie Pie cartoon is repeated in 44 further adventures. This was a very successful relationship. Tweety Bird is a placid but sadistic1 canary battling it out with Sylvester. Tweety Bird is rescued from the cold by Sylvester's "owner". Sylvester spends the entire cartoon trying to get into the bird's cage to eat it. Tweety is very resourceful and saws the furniture that Sylvester has staked up and unplugs the electric fan that the cat is using as a propeller.
F1 Savannah cat wanting to hunt caged bird. Photo: Michael.
F1 Savannah cat wanting to hunt caged bird. Photo: Michael.

The Tweety Bird -v- Sylvester cat battle continued throughout 44 episodes including these cartoon shorts:
  • Home Tweet Home (1950) - park fight
  • All Abir-r-d (1950) - train battle
  • Canary Row (1950) - hotel mayhem
  • Tweety's SOS (1951) - cruise sheep battle
  • Bird in a Guilty Cage (1952) - the title is a nice play on "gilded cage" - fight in department store
  • Sandy Claws (1955) - beach fight
  • A Pizza Tweetie Pie (1958) - Venice, Italy, more mayhem
An elderly human occasionally appears in the cartoons, the female (Granny) owner of Sylvester. She reprimands him and hits him with a broom for chasing Tweety Bird. Sylvester the cat cartoon also has his work cut out dealing with another adversary, Hippety Hooper, a baby kangaroo. This relationship lasted for 12 films. Sylvester thinks the kangaroo is a large mouse. One of these cartoons is called, Pop 'Em Pop (1950) in which Sylvester the Cat is accompanied by his son, Sylvester Junior who encourages his dad to fight, when he really shouldn't as the cause if hopeless. The son uses emotional blackmail to make him fight and to chase his adversaries. Sylvester's foes were:
  • Tweety Bird
  • Hippety Hooper
  • Wellington Bulldog in Doggone Cats (1948)
  • Another (nameless) mouse in Mouse Mazurka (1949)
  • Mike the bulldog a friend of Sylvester who is "shamed into fighting Sylvester"1 in Stooge for a Mouse (1950)
  • Timmy Mouse in Little Red Rodent Hood (1952). Sylvester plays a wicked wolf in this cartoon.
  • Spike the Bulldog in Tree for Two (1952). Spike is goaded by Chester into attacking Sylvester and fails but ends up fighting an escaped panther instead.
  • Speedy Gonzales in Speedy Gonzales and Oscar winning film of 1955.
  • Sam the Cat in Trick of Treat (1959)
Sylvester the cartoon cat starred in 104 cartoons in all. The animator was Friz Freleng. Friz designed him to be a little like a clown with baggy trousers and the red nose. The voice was Mel Blanc.

See also:

1. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Cartoon Animals

Sylvester the Cat Cartoon to Cartoon Cats

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