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  That Darn Cat! Feline Bureau Of Investigation
Year: 1965
Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Hayley Mills, Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, Roddy McDowall, Neville Brand, Elsa Lanchester, William Demarest, Frank Gorshin, Richard Eastham, Grayson Hall, Tom Lowell, Richard Deacon, Iris Adrian, Liam Sullivan, Don Dorrell, Gene Blakely, Ed Wynn
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: D.C. is a cat owned by Patti Randall (Hayley Mills) - as much as anyone can own a cat, that is, as with many of his kind D.C. has a mind of his own, and likes to prowl the neighbourhood of the town by night, which he is doing when he happens to spot a customer leaving a fishmonger's shop. Hoping to get a taste of the salmon, he follows the man (Frank Gorshin) to his apartment and manages to find a way inside, but this chap is not all he seems, for he and his partner in crime (Neville Brand) have recently robbed the bank, and have taken a hostage (Grayson Hall) into the bargain...

After a good, solid run of hits for Walt Disney studios, Hayley Mills parted company with them with this well-liked comedy thriller. That said, although she was part of the draw for name above the title stardom, most audiences would likely find her dazzle overwhelmed by the charisma of the selection of moggies playing D.C., a group of Siamese who gave lie to that old adage that you could not train a cat. How long it took the crew to get the shots of the felines demonstrating their tricks went unrecorded, but you can imagine plenty of man hours went into succeeding where less hardy animal trainers had failed, leaving those animals the undoubted stars of the show.

That's not to say the rest of the cast, human variety, were a dead loss, for Disney had assembled a number of reliables to act out the silliness, and two heavies in Brand and Gorshin who played it refreshingly straightforward, making the saving of the kidnap victim all the more imperative. They did get sidelined for a long stretch in the middle, possibly too long as if everyone was enjoying themselves so much they wanted this to as last for as far as they could get away with, as the comedy talents dominated. Mills may have been the heroine, but even she had to share the limelight and not only with the conniving kitties.

Thus such stalwarts as Dean Jones, making his entrance in the Disney world just as Hayley was taking her bow, appeared, in his case as the FBI agent Patti contacts when D.C. returns home wearing a watch around his neck instead of his collar. She quickly deduces that it was the kidnap victim who did this as a method of raising the alarm thanks to the letters scrawled into the back of the watch face which appear to be the beginnings of the word "help", but for some reason everyone else takes some getting used to the idea, no matter that Patti is essentially right. Jones' agent realises that he will have to find a way to link the cat to the criminals, which involves much humour on the subject of the creatures being impossible to tell what to do.

Have you ever tried to fingerprint a cat? Also along for the ride were Dorothy Provine as Ingrid, Patti's sister, who is being courted by Roddy McDowall in full on buffoon mode, indicating with Jones about his chances are slim to none when it comes to walking arm in arm with the girl at the end of the picture. Nice to see Elsa Lanchester and William Demarest as husband and wife too, the former as a busybody sticking her nose in where it didn't belong, and the latter as the longsuffering spouse who didn't want to know, nothing vital to the plot but yet more dressing up of a movie that was nothing if not indulgent of character actors. Ed Wynn was there as well in one scene as a jeweller, his much imitated voice taken to fresh heights of panic when he finds out the FBI are involved, but after a while you might wonder why the Bureau took so long to solve the case considering how much time the amateurs take. Still, frothy fun for the most part. Music by Bob Brunner, with Bobby Darin crooning the theme song.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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