Seriously, of all the Disney live action I’ve watched over two weeks, this is my favorite. It’s a solid mystery story that has a cat to keep kids interested, but never panders or plays down to its audience. Dean Jones is pretty solid as FBI Agent Zeke Kelso, Hayley Mills is wonderful as Patricia “Patti” Randall and Dorothy Provine as her sister Ingrid and Roddy McDowall as would-be suitor Gregory Benson are both perfect. Put them up against Neville Brand and Frank Gorshin as the duo who have kidnapped a woman* yet who are outwitted by a feline and you have a great movie.
Its writing crew was recognized for their work. Mildred Gordon, Gordon Gordon (the Gordons wrote the original book, Undercover Cat) and Bill Walsh, were nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Comedy and the movie was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture.
The real star is DC** — Darn Cat — a rare movie cat who acts exactly like a real cat. He’s pretty much rude and even dangerous to everyone outside his owners Patti and Ingrid. Plus, William Demarest made me laugh out loud every single moment he was on screen, which is the hallmark of a comedic actor.
One of the Seal Point Siamese cats in this film also appears in The Incredible Journey. Let’s hear it for movie animals who appeared in more than one role!
Also — I have a weakness for fake beatniks in kid movies. Witness Canoe, played here by Tom Lowell. He’s everything plus!
*Grayson Hall, Dr. Julia Hoffman from Dark Shadows!
**In France, he is known as P.V., which comes from the French translation Petit Voyou, or little delinquent.