Fritz the Cat (1972)

“All the stuff to see — and all the kicks, and all the girls — are out there!”

Synopsis:
A swinging hep-cat (Skip Hinnant) beds chicks while seeking the meaning of life through drugs, a road trip, and violent revolutionary action.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “X-rated cartoon by Ralph Bakshi” — “based on Robert Crumb’s underground comic-book character” — “hit a responsive chord with hip counterculture audiences of the early seventies”. He writes that while it is “ambitious and cleverly animated”, he also finds it “extremely dull” and argues “it’s annoying that the characters whom Fritz meets… are stupid, hypocritical, cruel, sex-obsessed, [and] politically naive” — thus making this film “a downer for those who romanticize about that era”. I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s review: I applaud its innovation and clever visuals, but dislike nearly everything else about it (including the characters). Be forewarned that the film is filled with “much sexual and violent imagery”, and many scenes (while animated) are quite explicit; watching the trailer may suffice to familiarize yourself with what this one is all about.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful animation

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its historical notoriety (but if you’d rather not subject yourself to it, just watch the trailer).

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4 Responses to “Fritz the Cat (1972)”

  1. A once-must, for its place in animation history.

    I saw this film on release. Before now, I also ‘saw’ it one other time – but not in its entirety. That’s another story:*

    To be best appreciated, I think the film needs to be watched as satire – which is the intent. It’s then much less offensive, I think. Is it the most potent satire? Perhaps not – it’s a little soft on that score; but, as satire, I think it still makes its point reasonably well.

    To me, what’s most impressive about the film is its overall tone, especially its more nostalgic sections. Although it’s not a film I particularly love (and would not be likely to return to on occasion), I think there’s much to admire in its ambition.

    I’m not an R. Crumb fan. I didn’t even like the documentary film about him much. I found him a little hard to take, but that’s me. I think Bakshi’s film exists not only as a recognition of Crumb’s work but as a kind of comment on him (and an extension of him) as well. (Crumb did not like the film and ultimately found it an embarrassment – which is neither here nor there, I guess. The Wikipedia entry on this film makes for an interesting read; i.e., made for less than a million and grossed over 90 mil worldwide.)

    Fave moment: Fritz is atop the power plant, placing dynamite – when he decides to not take part in its destruction. Then we see a shot of his anarchist female companion getting in her car, lighting the dynamite fuse and saying under her breath, “So long, Fritz.”)

    *My second viewing of this film was purely by accident – a surreal one. It was the mid-’90s and I had been traveling in Europe with a Swiss friend. We met up in Paris, went to Lisbon together, then went to his Swiss home for New Year’s. New Year’s Day, my friend was supposed to put me on a train headed in the direction of London. He was so hungover that he put me on the wrong train…one headed back to Paris. I returned to Paris in the middle of a snowstorm…with only some traveler’s checks and currency from several countries. I walked the Paris streets, freezing, unable to get into a hotel…until someone at some hotel allowed me to stay. I was frigid from walking the Paris streets at midnight. I made it to my room at the hotel…turned on the tv for a little company. The channel I found was showing ‘Fritz the Cat’…dubbed in French. I did watch a little of it…until I passed out. (Luckily, the next day I was able to contact the one friend I had who lived in Paris, so I was ok. After that, my friend who made the mistake ended up apologizing to me/making up for it for about…five years or so.)

  2. I can understand why this movie holds such a strong place in your memory, given your second-viewing context. That story of your wrong-turn in Europe seems like a short film in its own right.

    Thank goodness for kind individuals and friends in far places.

  3. The friend who put me on the wrong train eventually ended up apologizing to me and making it up to me for a number of years after that. 😉 He was rather horribly guilt-ridden about it – realizing it was kind of a nightmare that he unwittingly threw my way.

  4. A nightmare BUT an adventure! 😉

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