Ralph Bakshi Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The last third of Fritz the Cat, the first cartoon feature to be rated X, may be superb. I'll never know. Two-thirds was twice as much as I could stand. I wish I had been kinder to myself and left after the credits.

I mean to describe the very opening exactly as we see it. Three hardhats are eating lunch atop some New York steel construction. Then one of them stands, turns his back, and pees—a thick yellow stream, which falls all through the credits. Credits over, the thick stream reaches the street level, hits a young hippie on the head, and flattens him. And we're off to liberated Cartoonland.

All the characters are "played" by animals: policemen are pigs, black people are crows, students are cats, and so on. Greenwich Village and Harlem are the locales of the part I saw. Fritz is an NYU student who wants to swing (in the '60s), goes to a pot-sex orgy, a black bar, a black club. There is one fleetingly amusing sequence in a synagogue, with bloodhounds as old Jews; the rest is unbearably self-conscious "liberated" stuff without wit or point. The construction is moronic, the drawing dull, the dialogue corny, and the voices like the radio acting of the '30s on a bad night. I was going to mention the names of the people responsible for this mess, but I hope the reader has no interest.

Stanley Kauffmann, in his review of "Fritz the Cat" (reprinted by permission of Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents, Inc.; copyright © 1972 by Stanley Kauffmann), in The New Republic, Vol. 166, No. 21, May 20, 1972, p. 34.