The Fifth-Column Mouse

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The Fifth-Column Mouse
Merrie Melodies series
Directed by I. Freleng
Produced by Leon Schlesinger
Story by Michael Maltese
Voices by Mel Blanc
Michael Maltese
The Sportsmen Quartet(all uncredited)
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Animation by Ken Champin
Gerry Chiniquy
Manuel Perez
Studio Leon Schlesinger Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) March 6, 1943 (USA)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes
Language English

The Fifth-Column Mouse (later reissued as Fifth Column Mouse) is a 1943 Warner Bros. animated cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series. 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 – to the tune of “Ain't We Got Fun?” – 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 in return, promises a never-ending cheese supply. 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[edit]

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 mimics 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. The gray mouse represents the policy of appeasement, and the overall theme of the short is that the policy does not work against the Axis and will lead to ruin. 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"); also, when shaved four tufts of hair are left on the cat's back - three short and one long tuft - equivalent to the Morse Code dit-dit-dit-dah - which is the letter "V".

Near the end of the cartoon, the other mice sing “We did it before and We can do it again”, a patriotic chant that’s often used in American propaganda movies during World War II. 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 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.


The Fifth-Column Mouse was released on Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (1989), and later on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6 DVD set.[1] The cartoon is now in the public domain.

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