Guest curator Pete Gowdy and Oddball Films present a screening of the feature film “Eye of the Cat”, the offbeat mod thriller made in San Francisco in 1969 from a screenplay penned by “Psycho” writer Joseph Steffano. Not available on VHS or DVD, this rarely seen film will be screened in 16mm along with several cat-starring shorts including the Donald Richie rarity “Boy With Cat”, Bill Cosby reading the children’s classic “Rich Cat, Poor Cat”, and a wacky anti-drug film entitled “The Cat Who Drank and Used Too Much” and more.
Date: Friday, January 9th, 2009 at 8:30PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco 94110
Admission: $10.00 RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Felines: Friends, Familiars… or Foes? There is a familiar “myth” that cats sometimes steal people’s breath while they sleep- many parents still keep cats out of a newborn’s room. "Cats may still presage evil, particularly if they are black; they may still, as has been widely held throughout the world, cause the death of a child by creeping upon it and sucking its breath. Furthermore, Lilith, the dark goddess of Hebrew mythology, changed herself into a vampire cat, El-Broosha, and in that form sucked the blood of her favorite prey, the newborn infant."
On Friday, January 9th, Guest Curator Pete Gowdy and Oddball Films present an evening of “crazy cat” films showcased by the 1969 rarity “Eye of the Cat”, a kitschy psychological thriller involving an army of cats guarding an old lady and her fortune from her scheming nephews and her personal cosmetologist. Cat-centric short films of the sweeter, more playful variety will warm up for the feature, whose lead character has Ailurophobia, the deathly fear of cats (stemming from his memory as a baby, in one of the film’s many great campy scenes, he recalls in vivid detail a cat creeping in to his crib to steal his breath). Showtime is 8:00PM and admission is $10.00. Seating is limited so RSVP is preferred to: email@example.com or 415-558-8117. Oddball Films is located at 275 Capp St.
“Eye of the Cat” (B+W, 1969) dir. David Lowell Rich, screenplay by Joseph Steffano. Starring Michael Sarrazin, Gayle Hunnicutt, Eleanor Parker, Tim Henry.
Set in San Francisco with some great location shots, the highly entertaining “Eye of the Cat” is an offbeat thriller written by Psycho writer Joseph Steffano about an eccentric old lady who plans to bequeath her fortune to her colony of cats. Her nephew gets wind of this and plies to re-instate himself as the sole heir, despite his ailurophobia (fear of cats) and his conspiring brother and auntie’s cosmetologist. Crazy cats, catfights, mod costumes by the ubiquitous Edith Head and an eerie score by the prolific Lalo Schiffrin (Bullit, Cool Hand Luke, et al.), make up for some over the top dialogue and the strange mix of psychological horror and melodrama. Interesting trivia: Gayle Hunnicutt, who plays Auntie’s cosmetologist is in real life married to David Hemmings, star of Blow Up (perhaps the most mod movie in history). Michael Sarrazin, who plays Auntie’s nephew Wylie also starred in the 1969 classic “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” opposite Jane Fonda, and the cult film “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud”. Fantastic location shooting around San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Lafayette Park and Sausalito.
“Boy With Cat” (B+W, 1966) dir. Donald Richie
Well known as the foremost Western Scholar of the Japanese cinema (in the forward of his book, A Hundred Years Of Japanese Film, Paul Schrader says: "Whatever we in the West know about Japanese film, and how we know it, we most likely owe to Donald Richie." He also directed numerous cult experimental and avant-garde films during the 1960s. “Boy With Cat” may be his most playful short film, as a young man’s self-pleasuring is continuously thwarted by his affectionate feline. Special thank you to Jenni Olsen for providing this print.
“The Cat Who Drank and Used Too Much” (Color, 1988)
Wacky anti-drug film about a alcohol and drug using cat.
“Rich Cat, Poor Cat” (Color, 1972)
With his typical sly aplomb, Bill Cosby reads the beloved 1963 children’s book Rich Cat, Poor Cat by Bernard Waber. Waber wrote and illustrated this tale of the well-cared-for house cat and the poor, homeless cat (named Scat).
Plus a surprise or two...
And!! Two rare Felix the Cat cartoons- “Felix Goes A-Hunting” (B+W, 1923) and “Felix ‘Hyps’ the Hippo” (B+W, 1924).
Otto Mesmer’s Felix the Cat was the first true movie cartoon star and in 1928 starred in the very first television broadcast (see below).
Felix Facts! Electronic TV Broadcasts Began in 1928 with Felix!
During the early days of television development it was necessary to monitor and adjust the quality of the transmitted picture in order to get the best definition. To do this, engineers required an 'actor' to constantly be under the burning studio lights as they tweaked and sharpened the image, and Felix fit the bill perfectly. He was the right color (black and white), impervious to the heat from the lights and worked cheaply (in fact a one-off payment was all that was required). RCA's first experimental television transmissions began in 1928 by station W2XBS (New York-Channel #1) in Van Cortlandt Park and then moved to the New Amsterdam Theater Building, transmitting 60 line pictures. The 13" Felix the Cat figure made of paper maché was placed on a record player turntable and was broadcast using a mechanical scanning disk to an electronic kinescope receiver. The image received was only 2 inches tall, and the broadcasts lasted about 2 hours per day. By 1931 the station became part of NBC and began to transmit from 42nd St. These early broadcasts consisted of objects like Felix the Cat or early test patterns and photographs. Felix remained on his turntable for almost a decade as the early experimenters strove towards the goal of a high definition picture.
Pete Gowdy (aka DJ Chas Gaudi) is host of San Francisco’s Shellac Shack, a weekly 78 rpm listening party and a DJ specializing in vintage soul, punk and new wave. A graduate of the Vassar College Film Program, he is an associate producer of Marc Huestis Presents, the long-running movie legend tributes at the Castro Theatre.