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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 movie follows a sex crazed cat named Fritz, who is bored with his college life and 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 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 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 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.


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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, which was 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.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Bakshi has referred to Winston Schwartz as such.
  • 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.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of the cast. Though confusingly, the cops are shown both with and without shoes in various scenes.
  • Camp Gay: The first crow to appear in the film.
  • Chick Magnet: Fritz attracts five different women throughout the movie.
  • 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.
  • Crapsack World: New York in the mid '60s. Not unusual for a Ralph Bakshi movie, however.
  • 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 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
  • 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: 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.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Fritz later encounters a drug-addicted Neo-Nazi rabbit, Blue, who isn't that friendly to Fritz. The rabbit would later chain up, beat, and rape a horse.
  • 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.
  • 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 that is 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 movie to show any empathy to Fritz.
  • Police are Useless: The two pig cops in the movie 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 starts out with Fritz playing at 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 him raping her, but Fritz tries to prevent 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 the movie in which an act of sex is shown in a completely negative light. 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.
  • 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!
  • 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 synagog. 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 part 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 of the movie, was so dedicated to the film that he took his work home with him and worked on the film 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 part.

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