The opening credits of Gay Purr-ee , a lushly animated 1962 musical comedy, hold the promise of a can’t-miss production: music by Harold Arlen (”Over the Rainbow”), the voices of Judy Garland, Robert Goulet, Red Buttons, Hermione Gingold, Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, and Morey Amsterdam. Nevertheless, the final product disappoints because the cast can’t overcome the odd blend of music and plot. Some of the songs are too sophisticated (and too long) for children, and the story’s too unsophisticated (and thus also too long) for adults. Call it gray puree.
Garland supplies the voice for Mewsette, a country cat who longs for the glamour and romance of Paris; Goulet is Jaune Tom, whose love for Mewsette is equaled only by his love for catching mice. Garland and Goulet are in top form, though none of the songs they sing is especially memorable.
Mewsette hitches a ride from Provence to Paris, where she falls under the spell of the devious Meowrice (cleverly brought to life by Frees). He introduces her to Mme. Rubens-Chatte, whose job it is to teach Mewsette about beauty, etiquette, and charm. Gingold is delightful giving voice to the feline version of Henry Higgins. Meow-rice plans to ship the transformed Mewsette to a rich bachelor in America; then Jaune Tom learns of the scheme.
The predictable ending may satisfy kids — if they’re still paying attention — but it will leave many grown-ups yawning, as Gay Purr-ee did in its theatrical release. Like the rest of the film, the climax is one part catnip, one part catnap. B-