Ralph Bakshi Vincent Canby - Essay

Vincent Canby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Understatement is not the method of "Fritz The Cat," which utilizes just about every four-letter word you've ever heard in any playground, and depicts Fritz's various sexual triumphs with what might be described as indelicate frenzy. However, the film is not to be confused with those soberly obscene comic books that used to feature Toots and Casper, Dick Tracy and Tillie The Toiler. It is often exuberantly vulgar, but rather less obscene than your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, R-rated Hollywood melodrama, probably because Fritz himself is essentially an innocent of the early Jack Lemmon mold. He's the kind of cat who can be rendered instantaneously impotent with guilt when a Harlem madam laughs at him and says something like: "Honey, you ain't black enough!" (pp. 1, 3)

I suspect there is something in "Fritz The Cat" to offend just about everyone over the age of 17—blacks, whites, Jews, gentiles, Catholics, radicals, conservatives. Ironically, people under 17, who won't be allowed to see the X-rated film, are probably most familiar with cartoonist [Robert] Crumb, whose work I've somehow missed. Thus I've no idea how faithful Mr. Bakshi, who wrote and directed the film …, [has] been to Mr. Crumb's original creations. Compared to something like "The Yellow Submarine," the visual style of "Fritz The Cat" is almost drab, or, to put it another way, it's spectacular Terrytoon. It doesn't exactly advance the fine art of animation, which is...

(The entire section is 492 words.)