Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Infamous Kitty Kat

In the days before home video, there was "home movie". Aside from being able to make your own home movies with a 16mm or 8mm or Super 8 camera, there was a massive selection of pre-produced films you could buy for your projector.
In the 1920s-1940s, you could find many random prints of silent-era cartoons on 16mm being offered by a large number of distributors. While some were complete prints, more often than not you would find butchered clips in lengths all the day down to 1-minute (and less!). The most common length of 16mm silent cartoon clips was 100 feet, or approx. 3-4 minutes (depending on the FPS rate ones projector is set on.)
Anywhoo, it was somewhat common practice to take several different cat character cartoons and rename them "Kitty Kat" for convenience. However, this notion did not really skyrocket until the 1950s and 1960s with the growing popularity of 8mm.
As some of us history buffs might realize, post-WWII America was one hell of a prosperous place. War veterans bought little suburban houses, and their wives happily popped out 'Baby Boomers'. 8mm film was cheap, so this may explain the reason for home movies to boom in this period.
Considering these facts, there was again a need for cheap old content. The bootleggers and distributors found old 16mm Kitty Kat cartoons (among other things) and had their way with even more old films they discovered. This was the birth of the infamous Kitty Kat fiasco. Feast your eyes...but wear protective lenses.
Nota Bena: I've included the Alice boxes simply because Julius the Cat was sometimes thrown in the Kitty Kat mix :-D


Mike Matei said...

Hmm I actually like these. I mean some of the drawings of the cats are pretty bad. Like the one of the cats face where his mouth is a circle. But they have a charm that the shitty Kid Pics covers are lacking. They have a simple color palatte that I like. It reminds me of old four color comic books. Or maybe Big Little Books. I love Laurel and Hardy but I'm left wondering what they have to do with "Kitty Kat" So why are they on the box? Anyway, cool post Tom.

Marc Deckter said...

This is cool - thanks for the scans, Tom. Those box covers are awesome! I love these old cat cartoons.

Mark Kausler said...

Hi Tom,
How about providing an index to the "Kitty Kat" cartoons with the "Kitty Kat" title and the ORIGINAL title of the cartoon alongside it. That would be very useful to us collectors.

King of [Silent] Cartoons said...

Thanks Mike, Marc and Mark :-)
I just might do that...I'll need to round up everything I have (which can be a daunting task with such a small space) and make a list.

Craig D said...

Those scans are great! There are quite a few variants I hadn't seen before. KITTY KAT cartoons are perhaps the best value for your home movie dollar.

#1 They were MADE in the silent era, so there's no "missing soundtrack syndrome."

#2 The "KITTY KAT" umbrella covers so many different series! KRAZY KAT, FELIX, ALICE COMEDIES, whatever. If there was a cat in it it was fair game.

Thanks for a fun post!