Gay Purr-ee is an animated musical featuring cats as the main characters produced by United Productions of America and released by Warner Bros. in 1962. It features the voice talent of Judy Garland and was Garland's only animated voice role. According to the Production Notes on the DVD edition it was Garland who suggested that her Wizard of Oz songwriters Arlen and Yip Harburg should write the songs for Gay Purr-ee.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The story is set in turn-of-the-century France and takes place predominantly in Paris (sometime during the events of the 1952 film Moulin Rouge!). However, it begins on a farm in Provence ("Mewsette"), where the lovely cat Mewsette is bored with her beau (Jaune Tom, an accomplished but shy mouser). Inspired by Jeanette's stories of the glamour and sophistication of Paris ("Take my Hand, Paree"), Mewsette runs away to the big city via Orient Express, where at Gare Montparnasse she encounters the slick con-cat Meowrice. Taking advantage of the country kitty's naivete, he puts her in the care of the sultry Madame Reubens-Chatte, who promises to turn Mewsette into a dainty debutante. Unbeknownst to Mewsette, Meowrice is grooming her to be the mail-order bride of a rich American cat in Pittsburgh known as "Mr. Henry Phtt" ("The Money Cat"). Meanwhile, Jaune Tom and his sidekick Robespierre arrive in Paris, searching for Mewsette.
Training does not go well. Just as Mewsette is about to give up and return to the farm in Provence, Meowrice takes her out to see the cat side of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge and the Champs-Élysées as well as kissing in buggies ("The Horse Won't Talk"). Reinvigorated, she returns to her studies. Jaune Tom and Robespierre arrive just at that moment but Robespierre is sidetraked by Armond one of Meowrice's shadowy cat henchmen and barely escape drowning in Paris's famous labyrinthine sewers. By coincidence, Jaune Tom displays his incredible mouse-hunting skills in front of Meowrice, who sees a money-making opportunity consisting of 75 francs, takes them to the Moulin Rouge, gets them drunk by drinking champagne ("Bubbles"), and shanghais them as mousers to a stowaway on the SS City of New York bound for Alaska.
Mewsette finishes her training and is now lovely enough to impress even Meowrice, who commissions ten paintings of her by the most famous artists in Paris including Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso (an opportunity for the animators to indulge in some artistic parodies), so that he can send them to Mr. Phtt. Meowrice quietly writes a check to pay his sister, Madame. Reubens-Chatte (using disappearing ink, so that the check is worthless), and takes Mewsette to Notre Dame. There, he reveals his plan to ship her to America and tries to persuade her to enter a luggage crate, but Mewsette does not want to marry anybody but Jaune Tom and she manages to escape him. In the resulting chase scene, she leads Meowrice and his henchmen onto a bulldog, who wounds Meowrice badly enough to put him out of action for six weeks. Meanwhile, his sycophants (who are nowhere near as intelligent as he is) comb the city without success, searching for Mewsette.
On the New York, Robespierre consoles a depressed Jaune Tom, telling him that any problem, regardless of size, can be broken up into manageable pieces ("Little Drops of Rain"). He is right; not long after they reach Alaska (a howling wilderness of snow), they strike gold. Now wealthy, the two cats hurry back to Paris.
Disillusioned and homeless, Mewsette walks the city of Paris ("Paris is a Lonely Town.") Just as she is about to commit suicide by jumping into the Seine River from the Pont Saint-Michel bridge, Meowrice appears with his cats and captures her. When Armond informs Meowrice that Jaune Tom has arrived, Mewsette is taken to Gare de Lyon, en route RMS Empress of India to Pittsburgh, and all hope seems lost, until Jaune Tom and Robespierre arrive. They have been aided by Madame. Ruebens-Chatte, who is irritated that Meowrice double-crossed her. In a humorously over-the-top fight scene inside the boxcar of the Nord Express, Jaune Tom defeats Meowrice, but before he can throw him out the door, Robespierre spots the crate intended for Mewsette and packs him in, doubtless that this will be a nasty surprise for Mr. Phtt. The film concludes with Mewsette, Jaune Tom and Robespierre enjoying the high life in Paris that Mewsette was seeking when she left home ("Mewsette Finale").
- Judy Garland as Mewsette (voice)
- Robert Goulet as Jaune Tom (voice)
- Red Buttons as Robespierre (voice)
- Paul Frees as Meowrice (voice)
- Hermione Gingold as Mme. Rubens-Chatte (voice)
- Morey Amsterdam (voice)
- Mel Blanc (voice)
- The Judy Garland Online Discography "Gay Purr-ee" pages.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057093/ IMDB entry for Gay Purr-ee
- Gay Purr-ee Trailer