RVOD032 Kitty Cleans Up

(1949, Educational/Short, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Look kid, why don’t you just get a nice can of Lysol for a pet?

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

A little girl and her cat groom themselves for the pet show.


Come on.  We all know Kevin's a lot more hirsute than that.A little girl wakes up one morning to drag her cat into the bathroom with her. The bare-chested girl then sponge-bathes her entire upper body one small piece at a time while the cat follows along using its tongue as a washcloth. They finish up. The girl gets dressed, brushes her teeth and hair, and then they both have breakfast. Mom helps her stuff the cat into a box, which she carries to school. Kitty wins first prize as the school pet show because she’s just so darn clean.


I could easily make fun of this short for featuring a topless six-year-old girl. But, since it was made in 1949 without even the slightest whiff of an attempt to sexualize her, it isn’t really worthy of comment. Except for, you know, the above comment about how it’s not worthy of one.

After careful consideration, I decided that it is no longer 1949, and therefore I would not get away with posting a screenshot of the topless little girl.What is worthy of comment is the put-upon and frequently terrified cat. Judging by the changing texture of its fur, I’m guessing the filmmakers smeared it with various viscous substances to get it to lick itself in the right places at the right times. I have no idea what they did to get it to bare its teeth at the girl after the tooth-brushing sequence, but judging by its expression, it couldn’t have been pleasant. During the ending sequence, when every five-to-six-year-old at the school descends on it at once, you can just see the poor thing freeze with horror. I’m amazed it didn’t claw anyone. Or maybe it did, but the filmmakers edited that part out. I certainly hope that was the case.

Also worthy of comment: the horrible dubbing. The few lines of non-narrated dialog obviously weren’t even aimed at the characters’ lip movements, making it look worse than even the most poorly localized foreign films. Plus, the little girl’s cutesy voice sounds like someone’s mom trying to imitate Marilyn Monroe. Creepy.

Looking back at the preceding paragraphs, it seems to me that I haven’t made this thing sound funny enough. Much of this short film’s success has to do with the lines Mike, Bill and Kevin give to the cat to make it talk back to its owner. Also amusing are their comments about the OCD-ish qualities of the little girl’s meticulous and lengthy morning routine. While she washes her hands unceasingly, Bill calls her, “Little Tina MacBeth.” When she strips to the waist to wash each body part one at a time, Mike says, “Honey, there’s a tub and shower two steps away.” When we finally leave the bathroom only to watch her begin the hundred-strokes brushing of her pageboy hair, Kevin says, “The hygiene death march continues.” If you ever wanted to see an off-putting little girl with an adult woman’s voice washing herself and her pet half to death, then this is the film for you. The Rifftrax crew tweaks it only a little, but just enough and just in the right direction to make the whole thing hilarious.