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Pictured: Not Garfield. We mean it.

[in a Synagogue; referring to the Rabbis]
Ralph the Pig: They all got long hair. They all got long clothes. Must be a hippie church!
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Ralph Bakshi'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 streamlines three plotlines from the comic into a linear story, with more political and social commentary than what had previously been largely light entertainment.

The film follows a sex-crazed cat named Fritz who, bored with college life, decides to drop out and roam New York City (and later takes a roadtrip to San Francisco) in The '60s, ostensibly looking for a cause to join in. Over the course of the story, he spends time 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 Schwartz, 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.

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Though he had previously helped several TV shows, this was Bakshi's feature-length directorial debut. 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 film. 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 greenlight 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. It ended up as one of the highest grossing animated films of all time.

Although aired in 1080p on HDTV and MGM's streaming service in 2017, it has never been released on Blu-ray and the 2002 SD DVD edition is out of print and hard to find.

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Tropes:

  • The '60s: 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, released in 1966.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the original "Fritz the No-Good" comic, Fritz actually joins in Harriet's gang-rape. Here, he's appalled by it and tried to help her.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Granted, the rapist-looters in "Fritz the No-Good" were already highly villainous, but here, they're made significantly worse by being neo-Nazi anarchists who dynamite a power plant.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Poor, poor Harriet.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Especially Fritz, as every other scene is him ogling or sleeping with various women .
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Bakshi has referred to Winston Schwartz as such. As if the name weren't an indicator.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: 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.
  • Author Appeal: A big reason that Crum disliked the film was that Bakshi took what was ultimately apolitical light entertainment and used it as a basis for his own opinions of the hippie movement and race relations. There's also the many reflections on Bakshi's own Jewish upbringing, such as the scene in the synagogue invented for the movie and the gang of looters from "Fritz the No-Good" being changed to neo-Nazis.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: At least that's what Fritz thinks. He rallies up the black crows and gives a Karl Marx-esque speech towards them (he specifically uses the word "proletariat") that the police are enforcing the rule of the "bosses" (elite rich) and putting everyone else in a relatively weak position of power. But there is no evidence to support Fritz is telling the truth, at least not on-screen.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of the cast. Though confusingly, the cops are shown both with and without shoes in various scenes.
  • Blame Game: When Fritz rallies the crows to gang up on the pig cops, accusing them of keeping the bosses in power, the cops stupidly buy Fritz's speech themselves and blames the other one while denying that himself is to blame ("Fuck you!", "You first!")
  • Camp Gay: The first crow to appear in the film.
  • Chick Magnet: Fritz attracts five different women throughout the plot.
  • Closed Circle: Averted; once Fritz gets into trouble for inciting a riot, he hightails it out of New York and never looks back.
  • Condescending Compassion: The Establishing Character Moment for the three girls Fritz later bangs shows them with good intentions, but the crow is clearly annoyed by their Soapbox Sadie antics.
  • Covers Always Lie: While Fritz appears pretty much as depicted in posters, the female cat never appears in the film.
    • Though she does resemble the bespectacled, feline member of three girls Fritz engages in sexcapades with, so it's possible it's her, with a prototypical character design.
  • Crapsack World: New York in the mid '60s. Not unusual for a Bakshi film, however.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Fritz rallies the crows to overthrow the pig police force, the crows and pigs are engaged in battle. The pigs easily bulldoze over the crows with better technology (including Air Force fighter-jets) while the crows only manage to kill three pigs. Hundreds of crows die in the process, with Fritz having to run for it.
  • Depending on the Artist: There is no attempt whatsoever at uniformity when it comes to animation styles; there wasn't a high enough budget for it. On the plus side, this gives the film quite a bit of variety and allows each artist's style to be showcased more easily.
  • 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: And not just Fritz. Nearly every scene has him or some other character either engaging in intercourse or getting felt/feeling someone up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even a manipulative, perverted manchild like Fritz has zero tolerance for rape and is seen comforting Harriet after he fails to save her.
  • Face Palm: Duke does this complete with "Aww MAN!" when Fritz calls the crow bartender "boy".
  • Fantastic Racism: Somewhat. Crows stand in for black people in the film, 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
  • Funny Background 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: 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 the crow Duke 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.
  • Gender-Blender Name: A girl named Winston?
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Pretty much everyone.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Fritz later encounters a drug-addicted neo-Nazi rabbit, Blue, who isn't that friendly. The rabbit would later chain up, beat and rape a horse, his girlfriend, Harriet.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Fritz refers to a black bartender as "boy" immediately after telling Duke how much he understands race relations.
  • I Have a Family: Ralph tries to save himself and his partner from getting ripped to pieces by an ensuing mob by showing them a photo of his kids.
  • Improv: A few scenes, such as the opening on the construction site and the conversation among the patrons in the black bar, were voiced by New York City pedestrians whom Bakshi would approach at random and interview, paying them five dollars each and using audio of their candid conversations as dialogue.
  • Interspecies Romance: Fritz's girlfriend, Winston Schwartz, is a dog.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fritz himself. He's a self-righteous, entitled, immature pervert and can't seem to stay out of trouble. Despite this, he is horrified by Harriet being gang-raped and actually tries to comfort her after it. He also delivers a "Reason You Suck" Speech on the neo-Nazis later on.
  • 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.
  • Mature Animal Story: One of the earliest animated films that feature a cast if anthropomorphic animals geared towards adults and deals with heavy subject matter.
  • 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 film to show Fritz any empathy.
  • Police Are Useless: The two pig cops never successfully uphold the laws they intend to enforce.
  • 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.
  • The Pornomancer: Fritz is able to bed several strange women on charisma alone.
  • Precision F-Strike: Discussed.
    Pig Cop #1: (To his partner) "Now, you have the deeper voice so on three, you yell 'Open the fucking door.' Now, you've got to use the word 'fucking' because it makes you sound tough."
  • Product Placement: Fritz and Winston Schwartz at one point eat at Howard Johnson's.
  • Random Events Plot: The film opens with Fritz playing music at the park, then later visits Harlem where he starts a riot after getting drugged up by a female crow named Big Bertha, then finally encounters a neo-Nazi bunny named Blue.
  • Rape as Drama: Fritz sees Blue preparing to rape Harriet by hitting and tying her up her with metal chains. We don't see the rape; Fritz tries to stop him, only to get burned by the female lizard.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Harriet getting raped by her boyfriend is the only scene in which a sex act is shown in a completely negative light (along with said sex act not being shown). Even Fritz is horrified and tries to stop him.
  • 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.
  • Revolutionaries Who Don't Do Anything: Applies to a few characters, notably Fritz has some moments where he is one. This was more so the case in the comics.
  • 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!
  • Simpleton Voice: The unnamed pig-cop partnered with Ralph. Ironically, he seems to be the smarter of the two.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Somewhere between 3 and 4. It adapts three stories from the comic, the first two wholesale but the last only slightly, retrofitting it to make sense within the narrative, and is bookended by two completely original scenes.
    • The opening scenes of Fritz and his friends in Washington Square Park leading up to the bathtub orgy is adapted from the comic simply called "Fritz the Cat", adding the girls' being Innocently Insensitive to the crow, who originally ran off because Fritz lied to him about where he could get some drugs rather than left on his own accord, and the ending scene in the synagogue. The bear cops are also changed to pigs.
    • The bulk of the film is adapted from "Fritz Bugs Out" and only changes the beginning and the end. In the comic, Fritz's rant about wanting to see the world and live life to the fullest was the direct result of an encounter with a hippie girl he meets at a party, then goes back to her house and has sex with. Here, it begins in the dorm and his rant is depicted more as pretentious navel-gazing. Later, when he's stranded in the deserted, he train-hops his way back to New York and his dorm, promptly getting mugged on the way.
    • The last act is the loosest adaptation, "Fritz the No-Good". Originally, Fritz was a deadbeat husband and father who hooked up with Winston and, later, a gang of small-time crooks after getting kicked out by his wife, eventually winding up in jail. The only aspect that remains is the gang, here neo-Nazi anarchists. Also rather than try and stop them from raping Harriet, Fritz originally joined in.
  • Stoner Flick: A cartoon version of this trope to boot.
  • Teeny Weenie: Fritz is supposedly turned down for sex by Big Bertha (who he got high with) because of this (and is euphemistically described as "[not] black enough"), but as it turns out, she was just teasing.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Duke the Crow is one of the few genuinely nice characters who cares about Fritz's well–being. He gets killed during a shoot out, trying to get Fritz out of danger.
  • Underground Comics: This film is based on the Robert Crumb comic of the same name.
  • Vapor Wear: Bertha and Harriet both wear no underwear and skirts too short to cover their butts.
  • White Man's Burden: How Fritz sees the race relations problem in America. He strolls into a bar in Harlem not knowing much more than what he learned in an NYU class and immediately assumes it's enough to be accepted by the black community, which Duke makes no hesitation calling his bluff on. Even after spending more time socializing with black characters, he doesn't grow sympathetic to their plights so much as offended on their behalf, encouraging them to express their anger towards racism with riots. It gets all of them gunned down.
  • Working Through the Cold: Real-life example. Animator Ted Bonnicksen, who was gravely ill with leukemia during production, was so dedicated to the film that he took his work home with him and worked until his death.
  • World of Funny Animals: The entire film mostly takes place in this setting, except for the chickens.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Fritz has sex with several women despite having a girlfriend... who isn't mentioned until the third act. Actually, with all the sex he has, you'd have thought he was single.

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