The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974)

R | 76-77 mins | Comedy | 26 June 1974

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HISTORY

A 30 Jan 1974 DV article stated that The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, budgeted at $1.5 million, was being made as an R-rated picture, instead of an X as Ralph Bakshi’s original film Fritz the Cat film (1972, see entry), due to a shift in the demand for X-rated material. Producer Steve Krantz was quoted as saying that the X rating was “dying a slow death,” partly due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, unspecified in the article but presumably the 1973 case, Miller v. California, which gave individual states the power to regulate “obscene material” and reaffirmed a 1957 Supreme Court ruling that such material was not protected by the First Amendment.
       A 12 Nov 1973 Box item announced that animator Robert Taylor would direct the sequel. According to the 30 Jan 1974 DV article, Steve Krantz was no longer collaborating with Ralph Bakshi but refused to discuss the fallout, saying only that he wouldn’t be working with Baskhi “anytime soon”: however, in a previous DV article from 29 Aug 1973, Krantz had stated that he would work with Bakshi again. Though a 7 Jan 1973 NYT brief announced that Cinemation Industries, Inc., the distributor of Fritz the Cat, was planning to release the film, Cinemation later sold the domestic distribution rights to the sequel for $200,000, according to a 29 Aug 1973 DV article that speculated Cinemation’s decision to cut ties with the project was simply based on financial troubles the studio was having at the time.
       During production, frequent changes were made to the script ... More Less

A 30 Jan 1974 DV article stated that The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, budgeted at $1.5 million, was being made as an R-rated picture, instead of an X as Ralph Bakshi’s original film Fritz the Cat film (1972, see entry), due to a shift in the demand for X-rated material. Producer Steve Krantz was quoted as saying that the X rating was “dying a slow death,” partly due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, unspecified in the article but presumably the 1973 case, Miller v. California, which gave individual states the power to regulate “obscene material” and reaffirmed a 1957 Supreme Court ruling that such material was not protected by the First Amendment.
       A 12 Nov 1973 Box item announced that animator Robert Taylor would direct the sequel. According to the 30 Jan 1974 DV article, Steve Krantz was no longer collaborating with Ralph Bakshi but refused to discuss the fallout, saying only that he wouldn’t be working with Baskhi “anytime soon”: however, in a previous DV article from 29 Aug 1973, Krantz had stated that he would work with Bakshi again. Though a 7 Jan 1973 NYT brief announced that Cinemation Industries, Inc., the distributor of Fritz the Cat, was planning to release the film, Cinemation later sold the domestic distribution rights to the sequel for $200,000, according to a 29 Aug 1973 DV article that speculated Cinemation’s decision to cut ties with the project was simply based on financial troubles the studio was having at the time.
       During production, frequent changes were made to the script as filmmakers continued to update the plot to depict recent news, namely developments in the Watergate scandal, as stated in the 30 Jan 1974 DV. A 27 Feb 1974 HR article elaborated on the rewrites, stating that Taylor rewrote forty to fifty percent of the film and said “I came in on this picture when it was more than one third done, and I threw all that away.” One of the changes made to update the story according to current events was the addition of the character “Rosemary Woodstock,” based on President Richard Nixon’s real-life secretary Rose Mary Woods. Woodstock was drawn with four extra arms to depict her ability to deal with “runaway tape,” a reference to an “18 minute erasure on a White House tape” for which Rose Mary Woods took partial blame.
       The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was the first-ever animated motion picture to be screened in “offical competition” there, according to a 16 Apr 1974 HR news item. Following Cannes, the film was released in Jun 1974 to largely negative reviews. In the Oct 1974 issue of Playboy, a critic stated that the sequel lacked Ralph Bakshi’s “mad genius” and that Krantz and Taylor preferred “toilet humor.” In a 28 Jun 1974 NYT review, Nora Sayre similarly stated that the filmmakers possessed “neither [Bakshi’s] talent for graphics nor an ounce of his brutal humor” and that a “real loathing of women” was conveyed. On 28 Jul 1974, Margaret Hinxman of the Sunday Telegraph stated, “Of the animated obscenity The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, I’d really rather not comment at all.”
       According to publicity materials found at AMPAS library, the film took in $379,367 at drive-in theaters in less than one week of release. Further box-office figures were not found as of 30 Jun 2012.
       The film marked Robert Taylor’s feature film directorial debut.

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Nov 1973.
---
Box Office
22 Jul 1974
p. 4708.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1973
p. 1, 7.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1974
p. 6.
Daily Variety
23 May 1974
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1973
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1974
p. 3, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1974
p. 3, 48.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jun 1974
Section IV, p. 16.
New York Times
7 Jan 1973.
---
New York Times
28 Jun 1974
p. 21.
Playboy
Oct 1974.
---
Sunday Telegraph
28 Jul 1974.
---
Time
12 Aug 1974.
---
Variety
22 May 1974
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Spec photog des
FILM EDITORS
Negative cutter
Asst ed
MUSIC
Mus comp, arr, and performed by
Mus editing
SOUND
Re-rec by, Goldwyn Studio Sound Department
Re-rec by, Goldwyn Studio Sound Department
Re-rec by, Goldwyn Studio Sound Department
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Col models
Col models
Col models
PRODUCTION MISC
Administrative affairs
Prod assoc
Researched by
Prod services by
ANIMATION
Backgrounds des by
Backgrounds styled by
New char des created by
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Backgrounds
Anim
Anim
Anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Asst anim
Supv, Checking
Checking
Checking
Checking
Supv, Ink & paint
Asst supv, Ink & paint
Final checker
Final checker
Final checker
Final checker
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
Inker & painter
SOURCES
SONGS
"Jumpback," lyrics by Dave Palmer
"In My Next Life," lyrics by Dave Palmer.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 June 1974
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival screening: 17 May 1974
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 June 1974
Production Date:
1 June 1973--early May 1974
Copyright Claimant:
American International Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 June 1974
Copyright Number:
LP44132
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Deluxe®
Animation
Duration(in mins):
76-77
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23975
SYNOPSIS

In his squalid apartment, Fritz, an unemployed cat who likes to smoke marijuana, evades questions from his “old lady” who wants him to find a job. As she taunts him with the news that she has cheated and their baby crawls around on the floor, Fritz mentally detaches and dreams that he has lived nine lives. In the first, Fritz happens upon his friend Juan on the street and asks permission to have sex with Juan’s sister. Though Juan resists, Fritz finds himself at her home, where he forces her to smoke marijuana. She enjoys it, and experiences hallucinations while two robbers watch through the window. Fritz and Juan’s sister have sex, but her father catches them and shoots Fritz dead. In the second life, Fritz talks to a drunkard who calls himself “God” and believes that work is evil. Fritz complains about his trouble with welfare workers, who believe he has relied on public assistance for too long. The drunkard rolls around in a trashcan, alternates between drinking alcohol and vomiting, and asks Fritz to be his assistant. When Fritz begins to tell a story about one of his past lives, the drunkard accidentally sets himself on fire. In another life, Fritz has sex with two girls at a Nazi headquarters, and is hired as Hitler’s orderly after being kicked out of the bedroom by two Nazi soldiers. When he first meets Hitler, Fritz suggests that the führer is only trying to get attention by attempting world domination. Hitler then sodomizes Fritz and later meets with his advisors to announce that he has lost his one remaining testicle. Later, after Fritz delivers a buxom woman to Hitler, a ... +


In his squalid apartment, Fritz, an unemployed cat who likes to smoke marijuana, evades questions from his “old lady” who wants him to find a job. As she taunts him with the news that she has cheated and their baby crawls around on the floor, Fritz mentally detaches and dreams that he has lived nine lives. In the first, Fritz happens upon his friend Juan on the street and asks permission to have sex with Juan’s sister. Though Juan resists, Fritz finds himself at her home, where he forces her to smoke marijuana. She enjoys it, and experiences hallucinations while two robbers watch through the window. Fritz and Juan’s sister have sex, but her father catches them and shoots Fritz dead. In the second life, Fritz talks to a drunkard who calls himself “God” and believes that work is evil. Fritz complains about his trouble with welfare workers, who believe he has relied on public assistance for too long. The drunkard rolls around in a trashcan, alternates between drinking alcohol and vomiting, and asks Fritz to be his assistant. When Fritz begins to tell a story about one of his past lives, the drunkard accidentally sets himself on fire. In another life, Fritz has sex with two girls at a Nazi headquarters, and is hired as Hitler’s orderly after being kicked out of the bedroom by two Nazi soldiers. When he first meets Hitler, Fritz suggests that the führer is only trying to get attention by attempting world domination. Hitler then sodomizes Fritz and later meets with his advisors to announce that he has lost his one remaining testicle. Later, after Fritz delivers a buxom woman to Hitler, a tank rolls over him and an American soldier shoots Fritz dead. In the fourth life, Fritz attempts to return a used condom to a shop owner named Nick and admits that he used it to sleep with Nick’s wife, Gina. Next, Fritz imagines he is trying to sell a toilet seat at a pawn shop, but, instead of paying for it, Morris, the pawnbroker, offers a useless object to Fritz in a trade and uses the toilet seat to go to the bathroom behind the counter. In a sixth life, Fritz is an astronaut preparing to launch into space. Before takeoff, he takes a female reporter into his rocket and has sex with her. Another life takes place in the future, at a time when all African American citizens have been sequestered in New Jersey, now an independent state called New Africa. Fritz is given orders by the President of the United States to deliver a message to the leader of New Africa, Supreme Jackson. In New Africa, Fritz sees a man dying from a stab wound on the street and tries to call for help, but the phone operator argues with Fritz when she suspects him of being a racist. That night, outside Supreme Jackson’s headquarters, two guards play dice and allow Fritz to enter the building without questioning him. Fritz delivers the message, which is an order to fake an assassination attempt on Supreme Jackson and blame it on a Communist leader. Jackson refuses to play along but his aide insists and shoots him multiple times. When rebel activists show up, the aide blames Fritz for the murder, calling him an “American spy.” New Africa declares war on the United States and eventually the U.S. surrenders and Fritz is executed. In his eighth life, Fritz smokes marijuana in the sewer and sees a self-proclaimed guru floating past in a bathtub. Fritz worries that Lucifer has come to take him when a bat with horns emerges from the sewage, but the bat speaks with a gentle voice and asks Fritz if he has seen an earring lying around. Back in his apartment, Fritz snaps out of his reverie as his wife continues to deride him, saying that he doesn’t spend enough time with their baby. She kicks him out of the apartment, and he tumbles down the stairs and onto the street, impressed that she actually followed through with her threats. Remembering his visions, Fritz declares that this is the “worst life” he has ever had. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.