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Film / That Darn Cat!

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That Darn Cat! is a 1965 Walt Disney Productions film starring Hayley Mills and Dean Jones in a story about bank robbers, kidnapping, and a mischievous cat. It was based on the 1963 book 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. That Darn Cat! was the last of six films Hayley Mills made for the Disney Studios. The 1997 remake featured Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug with a cameo appearance by Jones.

While out one night, "DC" ("Darn Cat"), a mischievous Siamese cat, follows a bank robber to an apartment where he and his partner are holding a bank employee hostage. The desperate hostage starts to write "HELP" on her gold watch, but is forced to place it on DC and smuggle him out before she can finish. The next day, Patti, DC's owner, finds the watch on him and putting two and two together, calls the FBI. Hilarity Ensues.

Not to be confused with That Poor Cat.


  • Adaptational Jerkass: Gregory is less obnoxious and self-centered in the original novel.
  • Adapted Out: Patti and Ingrid's younger brother isn't carried over from the book.
  • Age Lift: In the book, Ingrid is sixteen, and Patti is a college graduate. In the film, Patti is in high school, and Ingrid is an adult.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Kelso follows DC to a drive-in theater, and the cat plops down in the vehicle where Patti and Canoe are. Kelso wants DC to get back on his regular route, so he gets Patti's attention and mouths "Throw him out". Not realizing that "him" means the cat, she points at Canoe in confusion with a "you seriously want me to toss my boyfriend out of the car?" look.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The MacDougalls seem to hate each other.
  • Blatant Lies: Patti saying she's terribly sick and weak - while using her full strength to shove the door into Canoe and push him out of the house. And then he sees her through the side window sprinting up the stairs.
  • Bound and Gagged: Margaret Miller is held tied to a chair and gagged for most of the movie by the robbers.
  • Brick Joke: During the opening credits, DC encounters a female cat in a window; her owner pulls down the shade as a way of telling DC to scram. At the end of the film, DC and that same cat go out on the prowl accompanied by their litter of kittens!
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Downplayed with Iggy, as it is clear that for all his ineptitude, he is not one to take chances with. However during the battle with the good guys, while the fight between his partner Dan and Zeke is played straight, the one between Iggy and Patti with DC is played primarily for laughs.
  • Canon Foreigner: Canoe Henderson doesn't appear in the original novel.
  • Carrying a Cake: Happens twice when Kelso is following DC through a drive-in theater. The first time, an employee carrying a tray of deserts in each hand trips over Kelso (who is crawling to avoid blocking the view for the patrons) and spills the food all over his boss. The second time, the same employee manages to deftly avoid both the cat and the agent, smiles in satisfaction, and then turns around and crashes right into his boss (who was trying to chase the Kelso out of the theater) getting the food all over the boss yet again.
  • Cats Are Mean: As Patti tells Zeke, DC is only really nice to people who give him food. Otherwise, he's aloof bordering on hostile.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: After DC steals Gregory's freshly-butchered duck, he threatens to "give him a pants full of buckshot! Nine times if necessary!"
  • Chase Scene: Several. There's one when the FBI agents first try to follow DC, which ends with them storming Patti and Ingrid's house, one at the Drive-In Theater, which ends with DC disrupting the movie, and one at the end when Zeke follows DC to the robbers, Patti follows Zeke, and Canoe follows Patti.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Zeke's allergy to cats, while providing some laughs, is what helps give away his bluff to the bank robbers that he is DC's owner.
  • The Chessmaster: Patti, especially when she manipulates a discouraged Zeke and the FBI into trying one more time to follow DC, by prodding reluctant jeweler Mr. Hofstedder to give them a false tip that the gold watch found on the cat indeed belonged to kidnap victim Mrs. Miller, as his store sold it to her. It works.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Canoe notices that DC is wearing a watch before Patti does, but all he takes away from the discovery is that it's past his bedtime.
    • Also, during an inspection of the bank robbers' apartment by their cranky landlady Mrs. Davis, a dollar bill from their loot which prior to her arrival, had been accidentally blown up to the ceiling by a fan, literally falls into her hands and she happily pockets it as rent money, without even stopping to consider where it came from.
  • Cranky Landlord: Landlady in this case, namely Mrs. Davis.
  • Crying Wolf: According to Ingrid, this is not the first time Patti has gone to the authorities with a premonition that someone is in trouble.
  • Damsel in Distress: Mrs. Miller, the bank employee, although she makes at least one attempt to be a Damsel out of Distress.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone, but special mention goes to Mr. MacDougall.
    • Mrs. Davis also, especially when her two male tenants try to give her an alibi about having a woman in their apartment.
    Mrs. Davis: I didn't come in from Stupidsville on last night's bus!
  • Denser and Wackier: The movie has far more slapstick and Sustained Misunderstandings than the book.
  • Detective Animal: DC.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Mr. MacDougall, after having to put up with his wife for the whole movie, finally gets his own back when he calls the police on her.
    • Mrs. Miller makes several desperate attempts to outwit her captors, but it is only thanks to the team of DC, Patti and Zeke that she survives.
  • Drive-In Theater: Canoe takes Patti to one. Then DC follows them, and Zeke follows him, and things go downhill from there.
  • Dumb Jock: Canoe. See Comically Missing the Point above.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Although Dan is the brains of the holdup duo, as well as the tougher one, he is not as keen on killing Mrs. Miller as Iggy is. It is only after she tries to set their apartment on fire, coupled with their nosy landlady's announcement that her sister is coming over for a visit, that he concurs with his partner that their hostage must be disposed of, and the sooner the better.
  • Evil Duo: Dan and Iggy, the bank robbers, though Dan is smoother, smarter, and tougher.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Iggy of all people, or at least he hates seeing blood. Even Dan finds that amusing.
  • Exact Words: Ingrid promises her sister that she won't take her suspicions to the police, but she doesn't say anything about the FBI.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Canoe sees DC is wearing a watch around his neck, he expresses surprise at the late time and then hurries off without giving it another thought.
  • FBI Agent: Zeke.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dan, until it becomes clear that being "nice" won't work.
  • Feet-First Introduction: As Iggy walks into a store to buy some salmon and DC starts following him, the first that's shown of him is his feet.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ingrid believes that she is the responsible sister and Patti is foolish.
  • The Ghost: Mrs. Davis' unnamed sister, who as she informs the bank robbers is coming over from Australia for an extended visit, and whom she implies is even crankier and more sensitive to noise than she is, being the matron of a women's prison. Although we never actually get to see this character, her imminent arrival drastically increases the thieves' need to dispose of their unwanted "guest", Mrs. Miller.
    • Gregory's mother to a lesser extent, as he often talks about her, especially when trying to seduce Ingrid.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Canoe grows ever jealous and suspicious while Patti works with Zeke, to the point where he follows her around in disguise.
  • Henpecked Husband: Mr. MacDougall.
  • Hot on His Own Trail: The FBI agents follow DC... to his own house, which they think is the kidnappers'. They promptly surround it, while keeping Zeke (who's in the house, along with Patti) informed by radio. He tells them to go in. They do.
    Zeke: [after the agents barge in and hold him at gun-point before they realise their mistake] What is this?
    Agent: The cat came in here, sir.
    Zeke: Are you nuts? There's no cat in - [sneezes]
    Patti: [checks under the bed and sees DC] DC!
    Zeke: That darn - [sneezes] cat!
  • Improvised Weapon: When Zeke and Patti are held at gunpoint by Dan while Patti is holding DC, Patti feigns that the cat is distressed by the situation so that she has an excuse to adjust her grip on DC without being suspicious - and then throws the cat in Dan's face, distracting him enough for Zeke to get the jump on him.
  • Invisible Parents: Patti and Ingrid's parents are apparently touring Europe at the time of the film, so Ingrid has a temporary Promotion to Parent.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Gregory is a pompous ass, but being a regular victim of DC's mischief, he has every right to hate the cat.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Curiously for all his murderous tendencies, Iggy does have a soft spot for cats.
    • Canoe also, he even shares his sandwich with DC.
  • Lost Food Grievance: Gregory is livid after DC steals his prized gadwall from the former's back yard.
    Gregory: Ooh! Where is that sneaky, miserable guttersnipe! He's got my duck!
  • Mickey Mousing: In the climactic fight, Patti kicks Iggy in the shins repeatedly, and her kicks are timed with the orchestra hits of the soundtrack - followed by a cut to Agent Kelso delivering a series of punches to Dan, that are also timed with the orchestra hits.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Canoe is understandably suspicious of Patti when he hears a man's voice upstairs after Patti abruptly cancels their date and won't let him in her house.
  • Momma's Boy: Gregory never stops talking about Mother Dearest when he's trying to seduce Ingrid.
  • Must Have Caffeine: In one scene, Ingrid tells an irate Gregory not to push her buttons because she hasn't had her coffee yet.
  • Nervous Wreck: Mrs. Miller, and who can blame her.
  • Nosy Neighbor: The MacDougalls. Or rather, Mrs. MacDougall; her husband tries to stop her being this, which culminates in him calling the police which she's out looking over people's walls.
    • As the thieves' meddlesome landlady Mrs. Davis lives downstairs from their apartment, this trope qualifies her as well.
  • Only Known by Initials: DC, which stands for "darn cat." Apparently, this name was given as an alternative to the "something much worse" Mr. Randall called him.
  • Phrase Catcher: Plenty of DC's victims call him "That darn cat!"
  • Pushy Gun-Toting Villain: Dan and Iggy take turns in this role throughout the film, and Dan's "don't do anything funny" speech to Mrs. Miller is a perfect example of this trope in action:
    Dan: I have ten lead-nosed friends in here, and they all run faster than you do.
  • Put on a Bus: Zeke's fellow field agents depart the story after a humorous sequence where it becomes clear that having lots of men following DC makes him retreat home.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The head of the FBI in the original believes Patty's story about her cat finding a kidnapped woman's wristwatch, and is willing to put a reasonable amount of time and resources into investigating. He also listens to Zeke's input when considering ending the investigation. This is less true in the remake.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dan calls Iggy out over his choice of a hideout.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dan and Iggy. While Dan is clearly the tougher of the two, he is less blood-thirsty, and very much the brains, while Iggy is a quirky little ferret who is all too eager to bump off their hostage, Mrs. Miller.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Mr. MacDougall, when his wife returns and threatens to murder him.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Gregory's mother has recently died in the book, but in the film, she's alive, albeit offscreen, and Gregory is a Momma's Boy.
  • The Stakeout
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Dan and Iggy, but downplayed and in a sinister way.
  • Title Drop: Done quite literally with a bulldog that gets outsmarted by DC, who barks the main title after DC gets away.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: For a film about the hijnx of a neighbourhood cat, the robbers, Dan and Iggy, play the part of hardened criminals frighteningly straight.
    Dan: Because I've got friends. Ten little, lead-nosed friends in here. And they all run faster than you do, Moms.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mrs. Miller is all but forgotten in the final battle and wrap-up scene; we don't even get to see her freed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Possibly, as the bank robbers consider Patti as an alternate hostage instead of Mrs. Miller, just before the final battle starts.


Video Example(s):


That Darn Cat! (1997)

Cats meow in tune to the second half of the music, and a dog is heard barking angrily at them at the end.

How well does it match the trope?

4.14 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / LogoJoke

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