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Pussyville has its “Follies” as well as Broadway. Its fads, foibles, frivolities are as brilliant and as mischevious as the Great White Way brand. And the feline version has a plot, categorically speaking.
—The films introduction
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Feline Follies is a 1919 Paramount Screen Magazine cartoon, produced by Pat Sullivan, and directed and singlehandedly animated by Otto Messmer. It is notable as the debut film of cartoon star Felix the Cat, who is referred to as Master Tom for this and its (lost) follow-up film, “The Musical Mews”, and the start of the classic Felix cartoons.

The film starts with Tom (who we will refer to as Felix from here on out for convenience) idling around outside a house, twisting his tail around in impossible ways and hopping about. He hears some meows from nearby, which catches his attention (and turns his tail into a question mark) and he runs off to find the source of the noise. Felix immediately finds another cat named Miss Kitty White, and they both hit it off immediately. He heads off and gets himself ready for his date, unaware that a group of six mice have invaded his owners house.

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Felix and Kitty meet up at a back fence in a thickly populated neighborhood, and flirt with each other. After an attempt at singing for her annoys the neighborhood, they split off and promise to meet up again at a local ash can. The night afterward, Felix and Kitty meet up again, with the former carrying a banjo. Kitty tells Felix to “Shoot something lively!”, and Felix begins playing a tune as she dances to it.

While all this is going on, the mice at Felix's house get hungry and form a mouse ladder to reach some turkey and a bottle of milk on a nearby shelf, gorging themselves on the stuff while making a mess.

Back at the ashcan, Felix decides to wrap things up, and makes four musical notes with his banjo, which he grabs out of thin air and turns into scooters for both him and Kitty to ride off in. Later that day, Felix arrives home and falls asleep, failing to notice that the mice have made a big mess of the kitchen he's in. Not along after, his houseowner arrives and notices the mess left behind—since Felix is sleeping at the scene of the crime, she assumes he made the mess, and gives Felix a rude awakening by grabbing his tail, tossing the confused cat out of her house and shooing him away by throwing a frying pan.

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Felix, now homeless, meets up with Kitty one more time, but takes notice that she's knitting a sock. Noticing that Felix is downtrodden, Kitty tries to give Felix some good news—it turns out that Kitty now has a litter of 17 kittens, and Felix's kits at that! Horrified at the idea of caring for a family, Felix runs off far away, eventually stopping at a pipe located near a gas drilling site. Feeling exasperated at his situation and with nothing else to live for, Felix sticks a hose onto the pipe, turns it on, and lays down to let the gas do him in.

The cartoon is in the Public Domain and can be seen online here.


Tropes:

  • A Dog Named "Dog":
    • Miss Kitty is a cat who is named Kitty.
    • Master Tom is a tomcat.
  • Big Eater: One of the mice that invades Felix's house drinks an entire milk bottle, turning his fur color from black to white. Amusingly, the head mouse only takes the drumsticks from the turkey and chucks aside the rest.
  • Breakout Character: Felix started off as a oneshot character in this cartoon, lumped in with two other cartoons on the Paramount Screen Magazine billing. It wasn't even intended as a series—the whole reason the cartoon got made was because another animator was late with his work for the Paramount Screen Magazine cartoons, so they needed another cartoon to fill in for it in a hurry, which Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan gladly provided. The result was a character that ended up so popular, that it immediately launched his own standalone cartoons series and a popular line of merchandise (which has lasted 99 years as of 2018), eventually established the standard rubberhose art style for the entire animation industry, and heavily influenced future series such as Mickey Mouse.
  • The Casanova: The narration implies that Felix is a womanizer and that Kitty White isn't the first cat that Felix has courted, and once he finds out she has his litter, he bails on the relationship on the spot.
  • Death Is Cheap: Despite committing suicide at the end of the cartoon, Felix is back no worse for wear in new cartoons soon after.
  • Downer Ending: Felix gets thrown out of his house for something he didn't do, and he finds out his girlfriend now has a huge litter of kittens to care for, so he runs off and commits suicide.
  • Dreadful Musician: Felix tries singing on a fence to impress Kitty White, but it annoys the patrons of buildings nearby, one of who throws a boot at him to shoo him off.
    "I've only got nine lives to live – an' I'll live them all for you!"
  • Driven to Suicide: Felix commits suicide at the end of the cartoon by sucking on an open gas pipe.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: To the point where other than the cartoon gags and art style, one would be surprised to know this is the beginning of the Felix the Cat series. Felix is named Master Tom in the cartoon. He looks and walks like a normal housecat instead of a Funny Animal, and his womanizing persona here is nothing like his jovial, altruistic personality from later cartoons. And Felix wasn't part of his own standalone series here, it was actually included with two other cartoons as part of the Paramount Screen Magazine program, so there are no ending titles. There is no Magic Bag of Tricks (which would be introduced 40 years later in the Trans-Lux TV series) or other major characters besides Kitty. And the ending has Felix killing himself!
  • Explosive Breeder: After just a couple days of dating Felix, Kitty ends up having a litter of 17 kittens to care for.
  • Get Out!: Played for Laughs. Felix's owner assumes he made the big mess the mice left behind, so she grabs him by his tail and throws him out the door, yelling at him to “Beat it!” and throwing a frying pan at him to scare him away from the house.
  • Mouse Ladder: The mice form this to get to the turkey and milk.
  • Karma Houdini: The mice who wreck the house and end up getting Felix booted out for it.
  • Love at First Sight: Felix immediately falls in love with Kitty White just seconds after meeting her.
    Narration: Master Tom, who scalps unwary mice and breaks feline hearts with equal assurance and dispatch meets Miss Kitty White and capitulates at sight.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While Felix is getting ready for his date, you can catch a glimpse of the mice popping their heads out of a hole In the kitchen.
  • Meaningful Name: Kitty White is presumably white-furred.
  • Mind Screw: In a rather creative gag, Felix makes four musical notes with his banjo, which he grabs out of thin air and turns into scooters for both him and Kitty to ride.
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: Tom is almost completely black aside from his muzzle, while Miss Kitty White is white-furred.
  • Punny Name: The name Master Tom is an obvious play on tomcat, a classic term for a male, domesticated cat.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Felix reacts this way when he sees his litter of kittens.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Tom's suicide is Played for Laughs.
  • Too Many Babies: Felix reacts with horror when he finds out Kitty has a litter of 17 kittens.
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