The Fifth-Column Mouse
|The Fifth-Column Mouse|
|Merrie Melodies series|
|Directed by||Friz Freleng|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc
The Sportsmen Quartet(all uncredited)
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Ken Champin
|Studio||Leon Schlesinger Productions|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release date(s)||March 6, 1943 (USA)|
|Running time||7 minutes|
The Fifth-Column Mouse (later reissued as Fifth Column Mouse) is an animated cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series released on March 6, 1943. Directed by Friz Freleng, the cartoon features a band of humble mice who engage in war against a cat. The short was given a Blue Ribbon reissue, released on April 22, 1950.
The short film begins with a pleasant group of brown mice, who are enjoying various water sports in a kitchen sink. Lurking just outside the house is a sinister cat who, after breaking in, gains the confidence of a dim-witted grey mouse. The cat persuades the unsuspecting rodent to tell the other mice to become the cat's slaves, and the cat promises a never-ending cheese supply in return. The grey mouse (who much more resembles a rat) follows the cat's orders, but soon finds out the cat's true intentions—to make them his dinner, and flees to join the mice. The brown mice then form a united alliance against the cat as both sides prepare for war, constructing a weapon to even the battle: a mechanical bulldog. The battle, in which the cat is chased and shaved nearly bald, forces the cat out of the house. As the mice all celebrate the victory, the grey mouse tries to claim partial credit (quoting Red Skelton's famous line “I Dood It”); he is immediately pied in response.
References to World War II
The cat is treated as the enemy and symbolizes the Axis. After the cat whispers his plan inside the dim-witted mouse's ear the cat's face briefly mimicks that of a stereotypically caricatured Japanese while Japanese sounding music is quoted. When the mouse agrees to fulfill the plan he gives the cat a Nazi salute. When the cat's skin is shaved off the soundtrack quotes Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which was used by the Allied Forces as a symbol the Morse code for "V" (for "victory").
Near the end of the cartoon the other mice sing "We Did It Before And We Can Do It Again", a patriotic chant that was often used in American propaganda movies during the Second World War. That song was co-written in 1941 by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Charles Tobias (who also co-wrote the Merrie Melodies theme song some years earlier) as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Fifth-Column Mouse was released on the 1989 video cassette Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons and later on the 2008 DVD Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6. The cartoon is now in the public domain.
- Lambert, David (August 31, 2008). "The Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes Comedy Hour - Official, Complete Press Release for Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 6". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
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