Apr 20, 2015

Review: Three Orphan Kittens (1935)

I'll admit that I'm a full-on cat guy when it comes to pets. I got nothing against dogs or anything, but in terms of choosing either a cat or dog to be my companion at home I'll choose a cat every time. Every time I see a cat outside, I can't not try to see if it'll let me approach it so I can pat it. Everyone does that right? I guess that's what happens when you grow up in a household that had four cats all at once for a time (I know, it's crazy).

So you can definitely understand the position I was in before starting Three Orphan Kittens. Just the title alone gave me images of kittens in a sack being abandoned somewhere. I had a feeling that I was going to end up being "cute-ed out" by some poor little kittens. It looks like the members of the Academy were as well since Three Orphan Kittens went on to win Best Short Subject at the Academy Awards that year.


At a Glance

Genre: animation, comedy, short
Directed by: David Hand
Produced by: Walt Disney
Written by: Bill Cottrell
Music by: Frank Churchill
Running time: 9 minutes
Production company: Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by: United Artists
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Lillian Randolph



On a cold and snowy winter night, a car stops and dumps a sack with three squirming shapes. Inside are three kittens. The wind blows their sack away and the kittens are left without any kind of shelter. Huddled together, one of the kittens luckily spots an open basement window blowing in the wind and in they go.


Funny how my sack of abandoned kittens mental imagery ended up happening. I also predicted that I would be completely cute-ed out by this Walt Disney production and I was on the money once again. The three titular kittens in question are just so cute that it doesn't take a lot to feel bad for them in their current plight. There may not be any sort of character development or any real narrative to TOK, but that doesn't matter. This is all about cuteness and this is a short that has it in spades.

Even though the three kittens go inside the house and cause a whole bunch of mayhem that only kittens could, I was easily manipulated by all this cat cuteness. Who cares that they're making a big mess for the very stereotypical African-American housekeeper character to clean up? These are quite possibly the cutest kittens I've ever seen on film and I'd probably give them a pass even if they broke all my stuff. If Disney were to release a short film like this today, the internet might just break.

In all seriousness though, the most impressive scene of Three Orphan Kittens is a certain piano sequence. The kittens mess around with a piano in the house and are at times actually messed around with by the instrument. This is where the marriage of animation and music that defines the Silly Symphony series comes to the forefront. It's a scene that's very technically impressive and loads of fun all at the same time.

Is it possible to not fall under the spell of the three kitten characters of Three Orphan Kittens? I'm pretty doubtful of that. No, there isn't much of a story but who cares? It is however quite clear that the animators of TOK carefully studied the behaviour and movement of cats and adequately translated that to film. Empathy is also instantly created because of how cute those little guys are. If you're feeling down at all right now, I strongly advise you to watch this slice of cute-overload.



Related Reviews:

More Kittens (1936)

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