3 October 2003 | stp43
The Love Of The Flying Cat
A love of cats appears to be the driving force behind many of Chuck Jones' greatest cartoons, and here Jones and Michael Maltese give a strong aerial angle that once again proves their mastery of compelling story-telling.
An airport coffee vendor (Daws Butler) explains to a waiting passenger (Mel Blanc) the relationship between a red-furred female cat and a mysterious feline known as a flying cat. In flashback we learn of the gestation of the flying cat, an orphan cat adopted by an elderly female eagle whose own chicks have grown and left the nest. The cat and the eagle love each other like true mother and son, and the cat tries to fly - leading to one of Jones' funniest/tenderest scenes; the cat falling down the thousand-foot precipice trying to fly and the horrified eagle rushing to save him, until he uses his tail to make him fly. The cat POV shot of the mother eagle plunging earthward upon seeing her adopted son now flying, and then flattening out of the dive and soaring back upward, is a triumph not only of humorous and believable charm, but of realistic animation. The eagle claps at her adopted son's triumph, and beams to the audience in typical Jones fashion.
Eventually, however, the flying cat must leave the nest - this brief scene, the cat and the eagle waving goodbye amid a magnificent sunset, reaches to the heart as well as to the discerning eye approving the artistic power of the background. The short's mood then shifts as the cat lands on a wire and drives three surprised crows to bang each other's heads, before spotting a female cat (the red cat) being pursued by a ferocious bulldog. The flying cat thus bears his claws and the real struggle of the film is on, highlighted by Jones' use of backgrounds and effects animation.
Facial expressions, a Jones trademark, also come through, best shown when the bulldog attacks the flying cat and winds up chewing on his own leg - you'll die laughing upon the dog's realization of what he is chewing on.
The film's climax neatly wraps up the story, but there is a surprise element in the short - given the ending, I am surprised the female cat's relationship with the flying cat is alluded to as it is.