That Darn Cat!
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|That Darn Cat!|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Produced by||Walt Disney
|Written by||Gordon Gordon
|Music by||Robert F. Brunner|
|Edited by||Cotton Warburton|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
That Darn Cat! is a 1965 American Walt Disney Productions thriller comedy film starring Hayley Mills (in her last of the six films she made for the Walt Disney Studios) and Dean Jones (starring in his first film for Disney) in a story about bank robbers, a kidnapping and a mischievous cat. The film was based on the 1963 novel Undercover Cat by Gordon and Mildred Gordon and was directed by Robert Stevenson. The title song was written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Bobby Darin. The 1997 remake includes a cameo appearance by Dean Jones.
"Darn Cat" or "DC" is a wily, adventurous Siamese tomcat who lives with two young women, suburbanite sisters Ingrid "Inkie" (Dorothy Provine) and Patricia "Patti" Randall (Hayley Mills), whose parents are traveling abroad at the time of the story.
One night, while making his rounds around town, teasing Blitzy the Bulldog as usual, DC from going to a delicatessen happens to stumble on and decides to follow Iggy (Frank Gorshin), a bank robber, to an apartment where he and his bank robber partner Dan (Neville Brand) are holding hostage a bank employee Miss Margaret Miller (Grayson Hall), whom they nickname "Moms". Without intention, the robbers let the cat in and he tries to eat on the food that caused him to follow Iggy. Regardless, only Iggy takes a somewhat sentimental liking to him and persuade Dan to letting him stay a while for that reason.
When Miss Miller is alone for a moment (but still under total eye surveillance of the robbers) being forced to cook the meal for them, she removes DC's collar to try and put her watch on him in place of it with a help inscription. In the process, she attempts to scratch the word "help" into the back of her watch (only managing to add "H,E" and only a partial "L", which only happens because of being interrupted by Iggy who asks what is keeping her from starting the steaks.) However forgetting to finish the inscription after being left alone again, she places it around the cat's neck, and releases him into the outdoors, which gets her in big trouble and makes her lose a huge chunk of her trust with the bank robbers of being turned loose inside.
Managing to make it home as usual, Patti discovers the watch, and gets a gut feeling that it belongs to the kidnapped woman and visits the FBI. She appeals to the looks of Agent Zeke Kelso (Dean Jones) and goes to him and tells him of her discovery. Through enough explanation, Kelso goes to Supervisor Newton (Richard Eastham) with it and assigns him to follow DC in hopes he will lead them back to the robbers' hideout.
Kelso sets up a headquarters in the Randalls' house and assigns a team to keep the cat under surveillance, but through a couple of careless moves, DC manages to elude them. Eventually a bugging device is implanted in DC's collar and the cat leads Kelso into a comical chase at a drive-in movie and several backyards. Through failed attempts getting anywhere and without hard evidence about the watch, Kelso through orders of Supervisor Newton shuts down the operation. Patti brings it back by disguising herself as a hippie merchant who pretends to be a niece to a jeweler she knows well, Mr. Hoffsteddar (Ed Wynn), and she calls the FBI through her pseudonym to persuade them through descriptions that the watch belonging to Miss Miller was indeed hard evidence after all, and after that, Supervisor Newton calls up Mr. Hoffsteddar himself to verify that the call wasn't a scam, who does agree and manage to let her pseudo call fool them into turning back on the case. By doing so, eventually, Patti and Kelso rescue Miss Miller and bring the robbers to justice.
Subplots involve a "romance" between Patti's sister Ingrid and Gregory Benson (Roddy McDowall) and a "romance" between Patti herself and a surf-obsessed slacker neighbor, Canoe Henderson (Tom Lowell) (which becomes dysfunctional when he comes to a misunderstanding thinking that she is dumping their relationship for another guy because of Kelso's car that he sees constantly parked outside her house), and the meddling of nosey neighbor Mrs. MacDougall (Elsa Lanchester) and her disapproving husband, Wilmer MacDougall (William Demarest). At the end, it is revealed that the gray cat in the opening sequence and D.C. have started a family. At the end, they are taking their kittens on a prowl.
- Hayley Mills as Patricia "Patti" Randall
- Dean Jones as FBI Agent Zeke Kelso
- Dorothy Provine as Ingrid Randall
- Roddy McDowall as Gregory Benson
- Neville Brand as Dan
- Frank Gorshin as Iggy
- Elsa Lanchester as Mrs. MacDougall
- William Demarest as Mr. Wilmer MacDougall
- Tom Lowell as Canoe Henderson
- Ed Wynn as Mr. Hofstedder the Jeweller
- Richard Eastham as FBI Supervisor Mr. Newton
- Liam Sullivan as Agent Graham
- Grayson Hall as Ms. Margaret Miller
- Iris Adrian as Mrs. Tabin the Landlady
- Richard Deacon as the drive-in theater manager
- Ben Lessy as Burton the drive-in concessionaire
Each of the Seal Point Siamese cats who collectively play the role of DC are so-called "traditional" or "old style" Siamese, as opposed to the more dainty, long and tubular modern Siamese show cats. One of the cats used for the movie belonged to a longtime cat breeder Edith Williams, a member of the Stud Book Fanciers Association. One of the feline actors also starred, along with two dogs, in Disney's 1963 film The Incredible Journey.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "The feline that plays the informant, as the F.B.I. puts it, is superb. Clark Gable at the peak of his performing never played a tom cat more winningly. This elegant, blue-eyed creature is a paragon of suavity and grace", and concluded, "...it's an entertaining picture. Even a king might profitably look at That Darn Cat."
Awards and nominations
The film's writers, Mildred Gordon, Gordon Gordon, and Bill Walsh, were nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Comedy. The film was also nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture, and a Golden Leaf nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Elsa Lanchester). Mills won the 1966 second place Golden Leaf award for Comedy Performance, Actress. The Sherman Brothers won the third place Golden Leaf award for Best Song.