THE THREE LIVES OF THOMASINA (1964)
Article 4386 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Don Chaffey
Featuring Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire, Laurence Naismith
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Fantasy drama
When a veterinarian (who lost his wife years ago) is forced to put his own daughter’s cat to sleep, he finds himself losing her love and affection, and must find within himself the strength to love again.
Despite the fact that the cat is the title character in the movie, she’s really more of a plot device than the main character. The main character is that of the veterinarian, who has lost much of his faith, compassion and ability to love due to the loss of his wife during a plague. In that sense, this is a story of redemption, and, being a soft touch for this type of story, it’s no surprise that I got caught up in it and enjoyed the movie tremendously. It helps that the veterinarian is played by Patrick McGoohan, who plays him with a real human complexity, and the movie often features characters making difficult choices. There’s also very good work from Susan Hampshire as a woman believed to be a witch who has the qualities the veterinarian lacks, Laurence Naismith as the reverend who serves as the veterinarian’s conscience, and Karen Dotrice as the inconsolable daughter. As for the movie’s fantastic content, I suppose it may be up for debate; the woman believed to be a witch is actually no such thing, and the possibility that Thomasina was actually dead and came back to life could be seen as ambiguous. However, since the story is told from the cat’s point of view, and there is a scene in which the cat visits the world of the afterlife (for cats), I’d say the fantastic content is substantial enough for inclusion here. I recommend this one, especially to animal lovers.