Western Animation: Fritz the Cat
[in a Synagogue; referring to the Rabbis] Ralph Bakshi
Ralph the Pig: They all got long hair. They all got long clothes. Must be a hippie church!
's 1972 feature film adaptation of Robert Crumb
's comic strip Fritz the Cat
. Famous for being the first X-rated animation in the United States, it is an amalgamation of many plotlines from the comic into a feature film. It was more overt in its political and social commentary than the comics, which were largely light entertainment.
The movie follows Fritz as he roams New York
(and later takes a roadtrip to San Francisco
) in The Sixties
, ostensibly looking for a cause to join in. Over the course of the movie he spends time hanging out with stoners, talking to black people (represented by crows) in Harlem where he meets Duke, very briefly meeting with some Rabbis, going on a road trip with his girlfriend Winston, and ultimately meeting with extremists who blow up a power plant
. Unsurprisingly, he spends most of the movie running from the police (represented as, of course, pigs). Of course, his goal of finding himself always seems to take a back seat to more immediate gratification in the form of carnal pleasures
or good ol' fashioned weed
Though he had directed several TV shows previously, this was Bakshi's directorial debut for a full-length film. After coming across a Fritz
comic in a Manhattan book store, Bakshi went straight to author R. Crumb to ask for the rights to turn the comic into a movie. Although Crumb gave Bakshi a sketchbook of his to help him learn to draw Fritz, he was highly doubtful of the film's potential for success, and never agreed to sign over the rights to green-light the film. Producer Steve Krantz, however, struck a deal with Crumb's wife, allowing the film to begin production; Crumb was paid $50,000 for the film rights.
The movie harshly criticizes the hippie lifestyle and leftist views in general. When the movie finally premiered Robert Crumb expressed dismay over Bakshi's political choices in the film, calling the final part of the film "fascist." Crumb also found the rampant sexual themes of the movie to be offputting - saying of Bakshi, "It's like real repressed horniness; he's kind of letting it out compulsively." Which is a little bit odd, given that such things are ubiquitous in Crumb's work. Just read any of it.
Because of this film's politics, Crumb killed off the character in the comic "Fritz the Cat, Superstar". Later, Steve Krantz produced a sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
, released in 1974, which largely consists of scenarios in which Fritz repeatedly dies
- Accidental Murder: In a surprisingly sudden and sad turn of events, Duke is shot by a stray bullet while attempting to keep Fritz safe from the gunfire. However, he appears as a ghost playing pool in the sequel.
- All Men Are Perverts: Especially Fritz.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Winston Schwartz.
- Author Appeal
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted. When one of the pig cops is thrown through a church window (somehow lacking his pants and undergarments) you can clearly see his junk.
- Until he takes his shirt and coat off, Fritz is usually drawn with this.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals
- Camp Gay: The first crow to appear in the film.
- Carnivore Confusion: Winston and Fritz eat beef at a Howard Johnson's.
- Closed Circle: Averted; once Fritz gets into trouble for inciting a riot, he hightails it out of New York and never looks back.
- Covers Always Lie/Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: While Fritz appears pretty much as depicted in posters◊, the female cat (or catwoman if you will) never appears in the film.
- Crapsack World / The Big Rotten Apple: New York in the mid '60s. Not unusual for a Ralph Bakshi movie, however.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Both films contain one, though the second film uses it to show one of the ways Fritz dies.
- Drives Like Crazy: Fritz when he and Duke steal a car.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex
- Face Palm: Duke does this complete with "Aww MAN!" when Fritz says something bad to the bartender.
- Fantastic Racism/Space Jews: Somewhat. Crows stand in for black people in the movie, however the terms "crow" and "black/negro/colored" are used completely interchangeably.
- Femme Fatale: Winston Schwartz, as evidenced by the song which introduces her:
She makes men into boys
She makes giants into men
She'll have you feeling guilty
Before you can count to ten
- Follow the Leader: The film did so well, it made other studios to make cartoons for adults at the time. Even though most of them tried to copy Fritz.
- Funny Back Ground Event: When Fritz is preaching for revolt on top of the car in Harlem, someone in the crowd yells "Get the fuck off my car!"
- Furry Denial: Ralph Bakshi's reasoning for why the anthropomorphic characters in this film never act like animals is that it would ruin what he was trying to create, which was a more realistic and mature form of animation. This is specifically the reason why the scene where Duke the Crow saves Fritz was changed from R. Crumb's comic; Crumb had Duke flying Fritz away from a car crash, whereas he grabs a railing in the film. Bakshi admits that he wasn't entirely satisfied with the solution, but it kept him from using any "animal" behavior to further the plot.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pretty much everyone.
- Interspecies Romance: Fritz's girlfriend, Winston Schwartz, is a dog.
- Intellectual Animal
- Karma Houdini: The Sadistic Satanic Neo-Nazi Junkie Terrorists who made Fritz plant the bomb inside the power plant near the end of the movie and made it explode along with Fritz still in there, and beat poor Harriet pretty bad. We just never hear of them again.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Fritz tries and often succeeds at having sex with almost every female character in the film.
- Mature Animal Story
- One Steve Limit: Averted with two entirely different female companions of Fritz both named Winston. The first is a fox who engages in the orgies at the beginning and the end. The other, a dog named Winston Schwartz, goes on a road trip on Fritz but breaks up with him out of annoyance.
- Only Friend: Duke the Crow is the only male character in the entire movie to show any empathy to Fritz
- Playing Against Type: Fritz is voiced by Skip Hinnant, who at the same time was a cast member of The Electric Company.
- Police Are Useless: Oh so much.
What's a pervert?
- Photo Montage: The film ends with pictures with many different location spots from New York city. Including an area that was referenced in the beginning of the film.
- Product Placement: Fritz and Winston Schwartz at one point eat at Howard Johnson's.
- Random Events Plot
- Rape as Drama: Played straight.
- Remember the New Guy: Fritz's girlfriend, Winston Schwartz, isn't even mentioned until her appearance in the last third of the film. Her disappearance is just as abrupt.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Fritz's response to what the revolution was about.
Revolutionist: Me and you have been assigned to blow up the power plant. That's all I care about. The revolution. (Turns the radio on)
Fritz: (Turns the radio off) You're full of shit! All you care about is a reason to hurt, to destroy, to blow up! You don't know what a real revolution is! None of you sons of bitches do!
- Stoner Flick: A cartoon version of this trope, to boot.
- The Pornomancer: Fritz.
- The Sixties: Roughly 1966, considering that most of the comics by Crumb were written in the mid-60s, and we see a billboard advertising John Huston's film The Bible, which was released in 1966.
- Too Dumb to Live: The trainee cop repeatedly impedes the police hunt for Fritz. In one instance, his partner would have caught Fritz if not for the trainee pulling him in to dance the Horah with some Rabbis.
- Underground Comics
- Vapor Wear: Bertha and Harriet both wear no underwear and skirts too short to cover their butts.
- World of Funny Animals
- Your Cheating Heart: Fritz has sex with several women despite having a girlfriend.