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Western Animation: Gay Purr-ee

Gay Purr-ee is an animated movie musical, made by United Productions of America and released by Warner Bros. in 1962, about the adventures of two French cats, Mewsette (voiced by Judy Garland) and Jaune Tom (voiced by Robert Goulet). Mewsette dreams of a better, more fabulous life while Jaune Tom, the sweet but simple love interest, is content to live out in the country. She leaves for Paris and discovers that she must be taught how to be suave and lady-like. Enter Meowrice (veteran voice actor Paul Frees): a con-man who promises to teach her how to become the belle of all Paris when he really just wants to sell her off as a bride to a Mr. Henry Phtt in America. Jaune Tom and his sidekick Robespierre (Red Buttons) come to Paris looking for her and adventure ensues.

The songs were written by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, the same team who did the songs in The Wizard of Oz in their last significant collaboration. The film was co-scripted by Chuck Jones and directed by one of his animators, Abe Levitow. Furthermore, since working on this film was in violation of his exclusive contract with Warner Brothers, Jones was fired. Whether this had anything to do with WB's animation department being closed the next year is unclear, but losing that genius certainly couldn't have helped.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Lilac: Mewsette looks white in the film but pink or light purple in the promotional art.
  • Animal Talk: Mostly cats, and one dog. The mice mostly squeak and the humans don't seem to understand anybody. There's also a song about kissing in carriages which mentions that "the horse says nothing 'cause the horse don't talk."
  • Alcohol Hic: Robespierre
  • Bad Ass: Jaune Tom when it comes to catching mice and beating up Mooks.
  • Break the Cutie: Mewsette. Doubles as Break the Haughty.
  • BSOD Song: "Paris is a Lonely Town"
  • The Cat Bites Back: After Meowrice cheats Mme. Rubens-Chatte, she's quite happy to help Jaune Tom track him down.
  • Cats Are Mean: Meowrice and his henchmen. Mewsette called Jaune Tom a "clumsy country clod" before deciding to go to Paris.
  • Cat Stereotypes: Jaune Tom (a yellow-orange male cat with orange stripes), Mewsette (an all-white female cat), and Meowrice (a villainous black and white tuxedo male cat).
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jaune Tom's champion mousing ability; he is able to sprint like a cheetah for about a hundred meters if he's chasing a mouse, or thinks he is. This comes in handy at the climax, where they pursue Meowrice to a train station moments after they depart on a train. Jaune Tom imagines Meowrice is a mouse, and is able to catch up to the 30-plus speeding train on foot.
  • Country Cat: Mewsette.
  • Cute Kitten: Robespierre.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "Bubbles", though most of the songs have moments of impossibly colorful visuals.
  • Distressed Damsel/Neutral Female: Mewsette, painfully so.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mewsette contemplates a leap into the Seine during "Paris is a Lonely Town."
    • She actually attempts it just after the song ends and Meowrice and his boys catch up to her, but she is caught in a sack before she can hit the water. Though she was probably aiming for the ice since it was thick enough she would have broken her neck on landing. She fails either way.
  • Dueling Shows: With The Aristocats (however they were made nearly a decade apart; they simply get confused by people who think All Animation Is Disney.)
  • Faux Affably Evil: Meowrice. Anyone but the naive Mewsette can tell he has nothing but bad intentions.
  • Final Love Duet: "Mewsette Finale"
  • French Jerk: Meowrice.
  • The Gay Nineties: Set in 1895.
  • Gay Paree: Most of the film takes place in Paris. Though it begins in Provence, and a scene occurs in Alaska.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In the title and used with abandon throughout.
    • "The Money Cat" has the line "We have dicks, politics and law / in the palm of our paw", where dicks is short for detectives.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Mme. Rubens-Chatte.
  • Heroic BSOD: Both Mewsette and Jaune-Tom nearly cross the Despair Event Horizon.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Mr. Henry Phtt.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: "Champs-Élysées? I wonder what they taste like."
    • Which is made even funnier later on when Mewsette suggests ordering it in a restaurant, and Meowrice doesn't correct her.
  • "I Want" Song: "Take My Hand, Paree".
  • Large Ham: Meowrice, Mme. Rubens-Chatte, Jaune-Tom at times.
  • Mail Order Bride: Meowrice's plan for Mewsette.
  • Malaproper: Mewsette doesn't really know what "plebian" and "feline" mean, but she tries to use them anyway.
  • Meaningful Name: "Jaune" is French for "Yellow".
    • It's also a homophone for "Jean," a common man's name in French speaking countries.
  • Mooks: Meowrice's shadowy hench-cats.
  • Mouse World: Alongside human Paris is a version for cats, including such delights as the Mewlon Rouge. Whether humans are aware of this is never mentioned.
  • Never Send an X to Do a Y's Job: After Meowrice's mooks have failed to recapture Mewsette: "Never send kittens to do a cat's job."
  • Punny Name: Mewsette, Meowrice, Jaune(Jean)-Tom.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Paris is a Lonely Town"
  • Sarcasm Mode: The fat cat Jaune-Tom asked for help.
    Jaune-Tom: Where is Paris? What is Paris?
    Fat cat: [perplexed] "What is Paris?" Are you mad?
    Jaune-Tom: I mean, I mean is it a school or something, for 'felines'?
    Fat cat: "A school for felines"?
    Jaune-Tom: No? Well... a village, maybe?
    Fat cat: Yes, that is what it is. A little village. A mile or two up the tracks.
    • Jaune-Tom remains blind to his sarcasm until he and Robespierre finally arrive in Paris almost a thousand kilometers later. (And even then, they wonder "How will we find Paris among all these buildings?"!)
  • Shout-Out: Paintings of Mewsette made by famous artists during the 1890s: Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso.
  • Sidekick: Robespierre
  • Something Else Also Rises: When Meowrice sees the new and improved Mewsette, his tail goes briefly rigid.
    Meowrice: Momentary weakness, my dear. Even cats are sometimes human.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: The film is an animated musical by UPA, and in it the two lead characters are voiced by Judy Garland and Robert Goulet. You'd better believe it suffers hard from this trope.
  • Theme Naming: Mewsette and Meowrice.
  • Vague Age: Robespierre is supposed to be a kitten, but he sounds and acts like an adult, and the other characters treat him as one.
  • Villain Ball: Meowrice pays Mme. Rubens-Chatte with a check written in disappearing ink. She's not amused:
    If the opportunity arose to do him a disservice, I might not be able to resist it.
  • Villain Song: "The Money Cat" (As with All Dogs Go to Heaven, don't ask what the cats want with money.)
  • Virginity Makes You Stupid: Mewsette at first.
  • The Voice: Humans are mostly heard.
  • Wealthy Ever After: Jaune-Tom and Mewsette, thanks to a lucky gold strike in Alaska.
  • A World Half Full: Paris loses all its glitter when Mewsette is lost and alone in it. All is well once Jaune-Tom returns, of course.

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alternative title(s): Gay Purr-ee
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